Dr. Landon Beales has written an article for The Journal of Civil Defense on Water: The Absolute Basic on storage and purification of water.
Storing water is as easy as turning on the faucet—as long as you store it before an emergency arises! If you wait until it’s critical, then both frustration and costs increase – in direct proportion to the water’s availability! The following are some basic recommenda-
tions to guide you in this fairly simple storage project.
Recommendation #1: Store water from the source you are currently drinking.
Family members are accustomed to its taste and mineral content, so adjustment to “new” water won’t be necessary. There are enough other challenges during emergencies without being frustrated by your water supply.Recommendation #2: Store your water reserves in new, thoroughly cleaned, heavy duty, plastic containers with tight-fitting lids.
Heavy, plastic containers have the major advantage of being shatterproof and lighter than glass bottles or jugs.
The federal government, through the Department of Transportation, has developed a rigid burst test and handling standard (DOT #34) for plastic containers utilized in the interstate hauling industry. Plastic containers in this classification are designed to specifications for strength and transportability when filled with liquids. Plastic containers meeting DOT #34 are available in many sizes, ranging from 5-gallon to 55-gallon models. Water weighs eight pounds per gallon, so the 5-gallon container (at 40 lbs.) is about the maximum weight most people can carry – and just the right size for water storage. The 5-gallon container is designed for tacking to conserve space and is easy to handle for rotating your water supply.
If you don’t have a storage space problem, the larger containers are better for consolidating and organizing water storage. If your storage space is fairly limited, smaller storage containers facilitate stacking and moving them more often. Shipping-grade water containers, when filled with water, are capable of withstanding both hot and cold outdoor temperatures. This is important if some of your volume of water must be stored outside the protected environment of your living space.
There is always a great temptation to “keep it cheap” and store water in used containers. The difference in price of acquiring and preparing used containers is comparable to acquiring new equipment, all things considered. It’s not worth risking loss of your water supply by using containers of unknown origin and quality.
New containers should be sanitized. Rinse the new container with drinking water from a new, dedicated ‘drinking water safe’ hose (such as those used in campers). Rinse 55-gallon containers with a 50% solution of water and bleach. Wear rubber gloves and eye protection. Leave the bung filler cap slightly loose. Swish and roll the container so the bleach solution reaches all areas of the container. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Pour the solution back into a clean bucket and use it for the next container. Repeat the process. Pour out the solution before filling with clean tap water. The remaining bleach will ‘shock’ the drinking water. You may wish to add 1⁄4 c. bleach per 55-
gallon drum of water before tightly replacing the cap on the bung. Wash off the outside of the drum with clean water so as not to damage clothing or nearby items with bleach. Bleach residue is dangerous to your health. Filter water at point of use…(continues)