Unfortunately, one of the most important things you need to survive can be one of the hardest to store in any large quantities: clean drinking water. Just for drinking alone, a person needs 2 quarts each day. More if you are doing a lot of manual or physical labour.
That doesn’t include having water for washing yourself or cooking. If you are planning for a long-term emergency (longer than a 14 days), that’s a heck of a lot of water to store. Having bottled water as part of your emergency supplies is definitely a good idea, but its not practical to have hundreds of gallons of water in storage. It just takes up too much space and is extremely heavy.
Having several gallons of store-bought bottled water is still a smart idea for your emergency stores, just be prepared to purify your own water once that has been depleted. Depending on your location, there is usually some sort of natural water available such as rainwater, melted snow, or ponds and streams. You can make use of that.
Boiling water is usually the first idea people have when it comes to making clean drinking water. It’s a good move, but it can use up a lot of fuel and time, especially given the quantities of water you need for you and your family. Still, you should know how to do it properly. First, filter any dirt or sediment out of the water first, with paper towels, paper coffee filters or a few layers of cheesecloth. Then boil it at a full rolling boil for at least 1 minute (yes, that’s all it needs). You also need to be sure the container you are putting the boiled water is also as clean as possible.
Another option is using bleach in your drinking water. It’s quite safe if you know the right amounts to use. Filter out any solid dirt and then add:
1 quart of water – 3 drops bleach
1 gallon of water – 1/8 tsp bleach
5 gallons of water – ½ tsp of bleach
After you add the bleach, give it a stir or shake through, and then let it sit for at least half an hour, or up to an hour if the water is really cold or still cloudy. Your water will have a slight bleach smell and taste to it, but it should not be overwhelming. If you can’t taste or smell it at all, you probably didn’t add enough.
Having bleach on hand is also a good way to sterilize your water containers, even if you are using the boiling method for the water itself.
So be ready to manage a water supply with bleach, coffee filters, buckets or barrels for collecting rainwater and empty containers like pop bottles.