Des Moines Water Works’ goal is to provide an uninterrupted supply of quality drinking water even in the face of adversity; however, we also advocate preparedness. Water can quickly become a precious resource following many disasters. The following guidelines, adapted from www.ready.gov, can help you be prepared in case of an emergency.
How Much Water Should I Store for Emergency Use? It is recommended you store a three-day supply of water including at least one gallon per person per day. A normally active person needs at least one-half gallon of water daily just for drinking.
How Should Tap Water be Stored? It is recommended you purchase food-grade water storage containers from surplus or camping supply stores to use for water storage. Before filling with water, thoroughly clean the containers with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap. Follow directions below for filling the container with water.
If you choose to use recycled storage containers, choose two-liter plastic soft drink bottles – not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have contained milk or fruit juice. Milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them.
If storing water in plastic soda bottles, follow these steps: Thoroughly clean the bottles with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap. Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of one teaspoon of liquid household chlorine bleach such as Clorox® Regular Bleach to the water. (Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.) Swish the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse with clean water.
Filling the Containers: Fill the container with tap water. Des Moines Water Works’ water is treated with chlorine so you do not need to add anything to preserve it. If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of liquid household chlorine bleach such as Clorox® Regular Bleach to the water. (Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.) Tightly close the container using the original cap. Be careful not to contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your finger. Place a date on the outside of the container so you know when it was filled.
Where Should the Water be Stored? Water for emergency use should be stored in a cool, dark place with limited or preferably no exposure to sunlight. You may want to consider storing half of it in one place and half in another place to guard against all of the water being compromised by the disaster. Containers of water can also be stored in a freezer where the ice will help maintain the temperature of the freezer during power outages and provide emergency water as it melts. If water will be frozen, the containers should not be filled completely to allow room for expansion.
How Long Can the Water be Stored? Water stored in this way will last for many months. It is recommended that you inspect your stored water supply every three months and empty your containers, clean, and refill them approximately every six months.
Storing Bottled Water: Commercially bottled water can be used for emergency water storage. Keep bottled water in its original container and do not open until it is needed. Replace bottled water on the expiration or “use by” date.
More information on emergency water storage can be found at www.ready.gov.