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Since water is one of life's necessities, having it around in case of emergencies is often recommended. Once the decision has been made to store water, the next question centers on how to do it. In determining the best way to store water there are several things to consider: quantity, container type, container sanitization, and water treatment.
When storing water, the amount of water to be stored should be considered as this could impact how and where you store it. One gallon (about 3.8 liters) of water is generally said to be sufficient per person for three days. This gallon (about 3.8 liters) is expected to be split about evenly for drinking on the one hand, and food preparation and sanitation on the other. While these are general guidelines, specific individual needs should be considered. For example, children and the elderly often require more water as well as individuals with certain medical conditions.
There are a variety of types of containers that can be used to store water. Glass containers can be used but these have the added disadvantages of being heavier and more fragile. Food grade plastic containers are often the best option. Containers can be purchased at a variety of places including camping or surplus stores. Re-purposing containers to store water is also an option. Soft drink containers are often best. Milk and juice containers can also be used, but since it can be difficult to remove the proteins and sugars left behind, they're typically not recommended.
Regardless of the type of container being used, the container itself will need to be properly cleaned and sanitized before being filled with water. Plastic and glass containers that are purchased specifically for storing water will normally come with cleaning instructions. Directions for properly cleaning re-purposed containers vary. The US federal government suggests cleaning the container with dishwashing soap and water, and then rinsing the container thoroughly. Next, the clean containers should be properly sanitized with a mixture of bleach and water — about 1 tablespoon (about 15 milliliters) of chlorine bleach per gallon (about 3.8 liters) of water.
Once properly cleaned and sanitized, the containers can be filled with tap water if the water has been treated with unscented chlorine. Untreated water, like well water, can be treated by adding a small amount of chlorine bleach. The amount of chlorine to be used varies on the strength of the chlorine and the amount of water being treated. The chlorine will help guard against bacteria or viruses in the water. Boiling water is another way to treat water.
While water can be stored for long periods of time, dating the water will help ensure the best quality. Water stored at room temperature, should be kept away from direct sunlight and hazardous chemicals such as pesticides, kerosene, and gasoline. Water can also be frozen for storage purposes. It is often recommended to rotate stored water every six months with regular drinking water. Rotation will offer the opportunity to better gauge how much water is consumed and will also help protect against bacteria growth.
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