Storing Emergency Water

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California has it all — mountains, beaches, deserts and forests. It also has earthquakes, storms, wildfires and power outages. Don’t let an emergency force you to go thirsty. Every resident in the Bay Area should have emergency water. Recovery of the public water system after an emergency may take much longer than a week. Your emergency supply should get you through the immediate aftermath so you can focus on other needs. You need at least two gallons per person per day for seven days minimum. Don't forget pets.

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Storage Rules


Follow container manufacturer instructions for storage and maintenance of your emergency water supply.

Use only BPA-free plastic. Single-use bottles are not designed for long-term storage and can leach plastic over time.

Store in a cool, dark place or a temperature-controlled environment; inside your home is best.

For drinking and food preparation, use ¼ teaspoon of bleach, chlorine or iodine per gallon, then boil to sterilize or consume.

Replace emergency water every six months.

Water Storage Myths

Myth —  I can use water from a pool or water heater for emergency drinking water.

Fact — Pool water may have bacteria or chemicals, and water heaters may have metals. Do not drink this water or use it for hygiene. You may use this water for other purposes, like to flush a toilet.

Myth — I have plastic one-gallon jugs of water. I don’t need other emergency water.

Fact — Plastic from everyday containers of water can leach into the water over time. This plastic isn’t made to withstand longer-term storage or variations in temperature. They can also leak. You’ll need storage grade plastic meant for long-term use.

Myth — Water goes bad.

Fact — Water doesn’t “expire.” However, over time, plastics or chemicals can leach into water if stored improperly. Bacteria can also grow if the water container isn’t sealed or is exposed to warm temperatures.