How To Store Water Long Term

The most popular reason for wanting to store water long-term is for emergency use- and for more and more people in the US, that’s simply becoming common sense.

Any number of scenarios can emerge that can leave you cut off from the water supply for days or weeks, not all of them beyond living memory.

How To Store Water Long Term?

In these cases, it’s good to know your family won’t be kept without.

It is generally accepted that one gallon of water is needed for a single person for one day; half of this is to be drunk, the other half will be used for hygiene purposes.

Depending on factors such as climate, activity, illness or conditions such as pregnancy, this number may be higher.

FEMA recommends storing at least three days’ worth of water, to outlast any potential disruptions to the water supply.

Many preppers believe however that the amount should be significantly higher- natural disasters, social unrest and severe weather can cause disruptions which last a lot longer.

These preppers agree that, on balance with the amount of feasible space available you should aim to have about two weeks of water stored away: for a standard nuclear family of four, that’s about 56 gallons.

You may wish to build this storage over time, as the cost of all the equipment can quickly become quite high very quickly.

Below, we look at some of the easiest solutions to storing water long-term.

Long-Term Water Storage Solutions

Obviously the first and major concern with storing water safely is making sure that the water remains free from bacteria until it is consumed.

There are a number of methods of collecting stored water with this goal in mind:

Bottled Water

This is by far the simplest method of building a store of water.

In the US and the EU, bottled water is guaranteed to be sanitary, and can be purchased in high volumes in large containers in a variety of materials.

The labels of these bottles should be certified by a veritable body, such as the BWA (International Bottled Water Association), NSF (National Sanitation Foundation), or UL (Underwriters Laboratories) which demonstrate that the water and bottling process met sanitation standards.

Water Barrels

If the space is available and you want to store an almost industrial amount of safe water, then 55-gallon water barrels can be filled safely with purified water and then stored.

These are made from a plastic which is safe to consume from (food-grade containers), and are designed to be sealed tightly so that you can be sure that your water will remain uncontaminated.

These barrels are free from BPA and are resistant to UV radiation, and a family of four could live for an entire month off of two filled to the brim.

These aren’t a reasonable solution if you don’t have a basement or appropriate area for storage- so if you live in the city or a smaller house they just won’t be feasible.

They can also become a prohibitively expensive solution- the barrels themselves aren’t cheap, and then they require specialised hoses designed for providing drinking water, and pumps to fill them up in the first place.

Also, once you fill them up, there’s no moving them until they’re empty again- a fully-filled barrel will weigh upwards of 440 lbs.



A more modern solution- you’ve probably heard urban survival guide tips on the breeze about filling a bathtub with water should some sort of disaster appear to be looming.

This was also popularised in an excerpt from Cormac McCarthy’s classic dystopian book ‘The Road’, in which a character realises the onset of the nuclear holocaust and begins filling up his tub before the water supply drops out.

In reality, this isn’t a particularly sanitary solution.

You’re not likely to have just finished cleaning the tub when the world ends, and even so, you’re not going to appreciate the taste of whatever cleaner you used permeating every sip.

Secondly, this pool of water in the house, as large as it is, isn’t sealed.

Especially as it’s in the bathroom anyway, it’s sure to become contaminated instantly.

With that in mind, the waterBOB is a bathtub-sized industrial bag, designed to sit in the tub and be filled from the faucet as the bombs fall or whatever.

This is a great way of saving space, and so long as you have fast reactions, you should be able to get it all filled up before the supply drops off.

Back-Up Water Solutions

If you’re getting more invested in being prepared should the worst ever happen, there are several other steps you can take to make sure that you have a clean and safe supply of water- even after your home supply runs out.

Water obviously exists almost everywhere in nature; but rainfall, rivers or bodies of water can only be safely drunk once they have been purified in one form.

Preppers recommend having three forms of water purification in your so-called Bug-Out kit.

  • Filter – There are many different types of water filter- some are replenishable, others single use. They’re not considered a long-term solution to water purification because of the nature of the disposability of filters, but they are popular amongst survivalists all the same.
  • Chemical – Purification tablets are another common survival kit staple. Made from Sodium Chloride or Iodine usually, they kill off common bacteria and parasites present in wild water, leaving it safe to drink. The taste can be masked with a flavor additive if you have any to hand in the apocalypse.
  • Heat – Boiling water for a number of minutes will successfully kill off most life present within it, the longer the better. To re-oxidize the water after boiling it, pour it between two cups so that it regains that smooth taste you’re used to.
Mike Noren