I thought that, in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, my readers might like to hear a useful tip about keeping reserve water supplies. FEMA suggests keeping a minimum reserve supply of one gallon per person per day, for a minimum of three days. However, I regard that as far too little. It leaves nothing for personal hygiene, and precious little for cooking, cleaning, etc. I prefer to work on three gallons per person per day, and keep a minimum of one week’s water on hand at that rate – preferably two.
I use three sizes of storage container; 5-gallon, 6-gallon and 7-gallon (follow the links to see them at their respective suppliers). Their price and availability can vary widely from time to time, as demand waxes and wanes, so it might pay you to shop around, and wait for better prices if necessary. Also, if you’re limited in terms of physical strength or dexterity, these large containers are very heavy and awkward to handle when full. You might do better to purchase smaller containers (such as, for example, one of the many 2-gallon designs). I also try to keep half-a-dozen flats of drinking water bottles in stock, each with 24-28 16-20oz. bottles of water. We use them regularly, and replenish our stocks as needed.
Unfortunately, every aftermarket plastic water container I’ve ever used has tasted strongly of plastic – or, rather, the water in it has tasted of plastic. The only way I’ve found to reliably remove that taste is to follow these steps.
- Pour half a gallon of plain ordinary white vinegar into each container, fill it with water to the very brim, then put the cap on.
- Stand the container in the hottest place available (e.g. direct sunlight in a warm place, or next to a heater if it’s in the middle of winter – but don’t melt it!). Let it stand there for a couple of days.
- Dispose of the water/vinegar mixture, rinse out the container, and refill it to the brim with fresh water. Cap it, and repeat step 2.
- Empty the container and allow it to air-dry. That should remove most of the plastic taste from the next batch of water.
It’s important to use a potable water hose to fill the container. Ordinary garden hoses can have contaminants such as lead that will leach into water passing through them – something that you really, really don’t need! I also store an inline potable water filter with the hose, in case our local water supply becomes dirty or polluted. That will remove a lot of contaminants that you’d otherwise have to filter out, jug by jug, as you use the water for drinking and cooking. I add water treatment drops to each container prior to putting it away. They keep the contents fresh for up to four years. I have powdered “Pool Shock” chlorine bleach in my emergency supplies, so I can purify any water I get from unknown, untrustworthy sources (here’s how to use it); and I have a family-sized water filter as well.
Finally, we have in reserve a 100-gallon-capacity WaterBOB. Given even half an hour’s warning of an emergency, we can unfold this in a bathtub and fill it with water. With all our containers full, including the WaterBOB, we’ll have over 200 gallons available, plus (hopefully) the contents of our 50-gallon hot water heater. That should last Miss D. and I for up to a month or more, all being well; and even if we don’t have time to fill the WaterBOB, we’ll have enough water for two to three weeks. I sleep better at night, knowing that.
(I covered this subject in a lot more detail some years ago, if you’re interested.)