According to redcross.org every household should consider storing enough food and water for two weeks supply even if it is unlikely that an emergency would last that long. I do know that in our area, there have been power outages for up to ten days after an ice storm.
Store at least one gallon of drinkable water per person per day - absolutely no less than that and more if you can. Also take into account how much you need for your animals. Have you ever seen one of your houseplants looking pretty droopy and you water it and it perks right up? People get pretty droopy too without adequate water!
I've been watching how much water our animals drink daily. Our dog has been drinking, on average, three cups of water daily. Our chickens have been drinking, on average, three gallons of water daily. Our cows drink from a spring that naturally flows on our property so I do not need to worry about that unless there was a severe drought in our area. Armed with this knowledge, how much water should I store for us to be prepared this winter?
Here are my calculations:
5 people x 1 gallon per day x 14 days = 70 gallons
1 Dog x 3 cups per day x 14 days = 42 cups (to convert to gallons divide by 16) = 2.6 gallons
Chickens x 3 gallons per day x 14 days = 42 gallons
That is a total of 114.6 gallons at a minimum.....that will require A LOT of space!
Our local grocery store sells gallon jugs of water for 0.87 cents so purchasing is an option - pick up a couple every time you go to the store and find places to store them. Your pantry, your freezer, the bottom of your closet, inside suitcases you are not currently using...really anywhere you can find will be helpful.
I also propose using your canning jars that are not currently being filled with the fruits of your garden labors. After emptying one of your jars, wash thoroughly and fill with your own tap water. To keep the water from growing organisms, add 2 drops of unscented household bleach. Stir well and let the water sit for 30 minutes. If you can still smell the bleach, place a new lid on the jar and screw on the ring. Don't forget to date the jar and be sure to use within six months to be safe. If after 30 minutes you cannot smell the bleach, add 2 more drops, stir, wait 15 minutes and sniff again. If you can smell the bleach, add the lid and screw on the ring. If you cannot smell the bleach, I would not consider this as a reasonable alternative to buying water. Reference: http://water.epa.gov/drink/emerprep/emergencydisinfection.cfm
According to Storey's Basic Country Skills, you can also can water to preserve it for emergencies. Fill quart size canning jars with water, use new lids and process in a pressure canner for 10 minutes at 15 pounds pressure. Store in a cool, dark place just as you would your other canned goods.
There are many resources to teach you about using water filters, storing water and using "hidden" sources of water in emergencies (like your ice maker or water heater) on one of my favorite reference sites: thesurvivalmom.com I hope this post will help you conduct your own research on this basic skill of country living and preparing for emergencies.
Don't risk your health by being unprepared with your water storage. Water-borne illnesses can be life threatening and in an emergency situation even more so. Be safe and plan ahead!
Water is the driving force of all nature - Leonardo da Vinci
Peace be with you,