Emergency Preparedness

Be Prepared for an Emergency

View water storage tips (PDF).

How Much Water You Need

You should have at least a three-day supply of water and you should store at least one gallon of water per person per day. A two-week supply is recommended. A normally active person needs at least one-half gallon of water daily just for drinking. Don't forget your pets. Additionally, in determining adequate quantities, take the following into account:

  • Children, nursing mothers, and ill people need more water.
  • Individual needs vary, depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate.
  • A medical emergency might require additional water.
  • Very hot temperatures can double the amount of water needed.

How You Should Store Water

To prepare the safest and most reliable emergency supply of water, it is recommended you purchase commercially bottled water. Keep bottled water in its original container and do not open it until you need to use it. Rotate bottled water according to the expiration or "use by" date.

Preparing Your Own Containers of Water

It is recommended you purchase food-grade water storage containers from surplus or camping supplies 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 on filling the container with water.

Storage Containers

If you choose to use your own storage containers, choose two-liter plastic soft drink bottles - not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. 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. Cardboard containers also leak easily and are not designed for long-term storage of liquids. Also, do not use glass containers, because they can break and are heavy.

Plastic Soda Bottles

If storing water in plastic soda bottles, follow these steps:

  1. Thoroughly clean the bottles with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap
  2. Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water
  3. Swish the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces
  4. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.
  5. Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If the tap water has been commercially treated from a water utility with chlorine, you do not need to add anything else to the water to keep it clean. If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water.
  6. Tightly close the container using the original cap. Be careful not to contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your finger. 
  7. Place a date on the outside of the container so that you know when you filled it. 
  8. Store in a cool, dark place. 
  9. Replace the water every six months if not using commercially bottled water.

Other Tips

  • Have an evacuation and communication plan to reach your family. Where will you meet if an emergency happens? What if all phone service is down? Have a back-up plan.
  • Know how to shut off your gas and water lines and have the tools next to the valves.
  • Store extra canned foods, medication, and other non-perishable items.
  • Keep the gas tank in your vehicle more than half-full at all times.

Learn more at Ready.gov