While we all hope the best days are ahead, making an emergency plan for unexpected disasters is a proactive way to protect those you love. Whether it is an evacuation, flood, earthquake, wildfire, power outage, financial or health event, water is a critical daily need for humans and pets. Storing drinking water in your home and knowing where you can access safe drinking water in times of need is crucial.
How much do I need?
Authorities commonly recommend three gallons of drinking water per person – enough for 72 hours. For a family of four, that’s 12 gallons. Those who live in hot climates, have health conditions, or are pregnant or nursing should consider a larger supply. And don’t forget about pets!
How do I store emergency drinking water?
- Safe water: Using fresh tap or other safe, filtered water is more environmentally-friendly than buying plastic water bottles that have an expiration date, contribute to the billions of bottles occupying landfills and pollute our waterways.
- Containers: The best containers have a lid, are not breakable, have a narrow opening to pour water, and are portable for easy evacuation.
- Container types: The CDC recommends using FDA-approved food-grade storage containers to store safe water, which can be found at camping stores or online – these containers will not leach toxic substances into the water they are holding. Alternatively, you can also use other cleaned plastic BPA-free containers like two-liter soda bottles.
- Cleaning and sanitizing: Before filling containers with safe water, be sure to clean and sanitize them, either with unscented antibacterial soap or a chlorine bleach solution.
- Storing: Label containers “drinking water” and store them in a cool (50-70°F) location out of direct sunlight and away from gasoline or pesticides. Authorities commonly recommend replacing your water supply every six months.
When do I use my supply?
Get ready! While disasters come in all shapes and sizes, Southern Californians are not strangers to wildfires. In the event of a wildfire evacuation order, it is important to leave as soon as possible – and bring your refillable bottles of water. If you have an evacuation warning or a shelter in place order, get your emergency kit ready – move your water supplies to a location where they can be easily accessed, or place them in your vehicle.
How do I use my supply?
- Use a scoop or cup: If you are unable to pour safe water out of the container, use a clean scoop each time and do not to touch the inside with your hands. Never scoop with your hands (CDC).
- Drink what you need: Never ration drinking water unless ordered to do so by authorities. Minimize the amount of water you need by reducing activity and staying cool (Ready.gov). Children ages 1-8 need one cup of water for each year of age (1-1, 2-2, 3-3 and so on). For kids ages 9 and older, it is at least eight cups of water a day.
- Use your emergency supply first: Listen to local authorities’ directions. If you do not have access to any other sources of water, follow the CDC’s guide to finding other sources of water and boil, disinfect or filter water so it is safe to use. Caffeinated beverages and alcohol do not substitute for water, as they dehydrate the body (Ready.gov).
You will never regret taking extra time and effort to ensure that you and your family are prepared for an emergency. Emergency preparedness can save lives and is always worth the effort. Do you have everything you need? Visit Ready.gov to learn what needs to be in your emergency kit.