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water storage

Augason Farms One-Month Food KitDuring National Survival Month, we encouraged readers to identify a task they hoped to accomplish. We were slammed with work that month and getting ready for vacation, so I picked an easy task that had been on my list – create a menu to be used during the first month of a serious emergency and gather the needed recipes.

As I began the menu project, Phil reminded me that we had purchased a one-month food supply kit from Augason Farms. This kit contained 48 small cans of dehydrated and freeze dried ingredients and came with a recipe booklet with more than 50 recipes. Wow! Menu task accomplished! Well, not quite. But close.

From that easily accomplished goal we decided that after returning from vacation we’d set aside a week during which we would make some of the recipes and get a more realistic idea of what it would be like to live off of our long-term storage food supply.

Our original plan was to eat nothing but food from our long-term food storage, with a focus on the Augason Farms kit. After putting off our one week of survival food experiment several times, we realized that our original plan needed some tweaking. We realized that maintaining our normal schedule of work and ministry activities meant that it wasn’t practical for us to only eat survival food for that week. In an emergency, these commitments would be radically altered. We weren’t willing to make those adjustments for our experiment. Still, we were able to accomplish our goals by eating most meals from our long-term food storage while allowing the restaurant or fast food option when our schedule demanded.

Yes, we know that we’re not practicing true survival. We’re not forcing ourselves into simulated hardship. Instead, we’re practicing with and sampling our survival food. I’m OK with that for this experiment. So what were our goals?

Our goals for the week are to:

  • Taste the food. Do you remember the line from the movie Crocodile Dundee – “It tastes like crap, but you can live on it.” Were we going to be miserable eating what we’d bought? The Augason Farms kit has a wide variety of their staple products and recipes that could be made from them, so we’d be able to sample much of it. (And we’d have an idea of which foods we might want to purchase in larger quantities…and which we wouldn’t.)
  • Practice preparing the food. It’s never a good idea to wait until five minutes before you really need something to start learning how to use it. We want to practice preparing the food before we absolutely need to use it. Our one-month food kit is not a case of prepared entrees. It’s an ingredient-based kit that allows you to mix and match items to make a lot of recipes. There’s a big difference between reading the contents on the box and figuring out what you could make with it.
  • Evaluate what’s missing from our food storage plan. When we start living on survival food, what will we be craving that we don’t have? It might be fresh fruits and vegetables, or meat, or desserts, or salty snacks. But until we start using what we have stored, we won’t know what is lacking. We need to fill in the gaps now.
  • Evaluate how much water we’d be using when cooking primarily dehydrated and freeze-dried food. (As it turns out, the kit clearly specifies that it takes 23 gallons of water to prepare all of the included food. That’s 23 gallons of water for one person for one month for just food preparation. What does that do to your estimate of how much water you want for every person to include drinking and washing?)
  • Evaluate portion sizes. Would their claimed “makes 2 servings” really make 2 real world servings?
  • Share our findings with you.

With all that as a backdrop, we finally picked a week to start – last week as a matter of fact. Here are our first lessons and impressions from our week of survival food testing:

  • We have more food in our fridge at any given point than we realize. We were scheduled to begin sampling the survival food last week and immediately realized that we had enough food in our fridge that we needed to use before it spoiled to last us nearly a week. So the first five days were spent eating from our fridge with a little supplement from our pantry shelves. I was actually surprised at this because I don’t think of us having that much ready food on hand. I know we have a healthy-sized pantry, but didn’t realize that we had so much that needed to be eaten. I was really encouraged by this. I know that if an emergency takes out our fridge and freezer (which it likely would), that week would turn into “eat as much as you can in the next few days”. I’ll have more to share with others than I thought I would. (And no, we didn’t go out and do big shopping shortly before our survival food experiment was to begin. Quite the opposite. We had abstained from grocery shopping for about a week before that.)
  • With our on-hand “need to eat” food, our one week of survival food experiment has turned into two weeks of survival food. We’re five days into it and we tasted our first survival food today. (Yes, we’ve tasted many other products in the past, but today was the first in this experiment.)
  • There is a lot of variety in the Augason Farms one-month pack. You can do a lot with it. In addition to their recipe booklet, there are also recipes printed on each can’s label. Being who I am, I put them all into a spreadsheet and created a weeks’ worth of menus.
  • Along with the variety, there’s also a lot of repetition in the Augason Farms recipes. Chicken noodle soup, chicken noodle casserole, and chicken noodle vegetable casserole sound a lot alike to me! Still, having just tasted my first variation of potato soup (creamy potato soup with corn and chicken), I’m embracing the variations. (More on that in our next blog.)
  • I’m really looking forward to this!

Without trying to sound like a commercial, it seems like I should give more info about the Augason Farms one-month pack. This pack is advertised as providing almost 2,100 calories per day for one person for one month. Nutritional information is provided on each can. The only absolutely necessary ingredient that isn’t provided is water. Some of the recipes in the included recipe book include ingredients that you may not have available (sour cream or hard cheese, for example), but most do not.

The kit includes 21 different items in a total of 48 cans:

  • Beef, Chicken, and Bacon TVP (textured vegetable protein)
  • Cheesy broccoli soup mix
  • Creamy potato soup mix
  • Chicken noodle soup mix
  • Southwest chili mix
  • Broccoli (freeze dried)
  • Corn (freeze dried)
  • Potato dices (dehydrated)
  • Potato gems (for mashed potatoes)
  • Onions (chopped dehydrated)
  • White rice
  • Whole eggs (powdered)
  • Creamy wheat cereal
  • Buttermilk pancake mix
  • Strawberries (freeze dried slices)
  • Banana slices
  • Milk (powdered)
  • Chocolate milk (powdered)
  • Orange delight drink mix

Have you ever seen the cooking competition show called Chopped on the Food Network? Chefs are given a basket with four ingredients. Some of them are normal ingredients, some are very abnormal. The challenge is to make a tasty meal using all four ingredients, plus whatever else they have available. This kit is like playing Chopped. What kind of culinary wonders can you create with these ingredients and what’s in your pantry?

These aren’t the jumbo #10 cans that you normally see for long-term storage food. Those big boys hold almost a gallon each. The food in this kit all comes in the smaller #2.5 cans which only hold about a quart. The smaller size makes it practical and affordable to sample a lot of products. Besides, the big #10 cans aren’t always your best choice for every type of food storage, as blogger The Survival Mom points out in this excellent article.

The regular price of the kit is $256.99 (with free shipping as of this writing), but it is occasionally on sale. We paid at least $60 less for each of the packs we’ve purchased. (We purchased three kits at different times, so the price of each pack varied.) If you’re just getting started with prepping, or you’ve looked at the huge one-year food kits that many food storage vendors offer and found them to be way out of your budget or your prep plans, this one-month kit might be just the ticket for you. It’s way more affordable, takes up way less space, lets you sample a lot of products, and could be good as a starter pack for you or as a gift for someone else whom you wish was better prepared.

At the regular price, assuming 3 meals/day for 30 days, the price per meal is less than $2.63. That seems pretty darn reasonable. At the prices we paid for our one-month packs, our cost went down to $2.18. And when the meals are stretched with rice or pasta, the price goes even lower. Of course one of our purposes in this experiment is to find the things we like most and purchase those items in larger cans at a better price. But considering the convenience of the smaller cans with menus provided, I’m a happy camper.

Assuming the food is good. Assuming it truly is 30 days’ worth of food. That story comes next…

Emergency ChecklistIn my previous National Preparedness Month blog, I encouraged you to review what preps you’ve made in the past year and consider strategic purchases to improve your preparedness position. Some of you know off the top of the head what your highest prepping priorities are, but for most of us, I’m guessing a more directed approach to evaluating your preps would be helpful. We’re here to help. Use the Preparedness Check and Challenge checklist below to evaluate where you are now and where you want to be.

There are more areas in which we need to prepare – communications, transportation, and medical, to name just a few. But our readers tend to be beginners in prepping, so we’ll stick with these basic topics for today’s blog.

We’re still working on every area (of course), but we’re making progress. My personal challenge for September is to complete a 3-day and a 1-month food plan with recipes. As I was writing this blog and explaining my alternate approach to evaluating my stored food, I realized that I can easily look at my pantry and evaluate if I have the necessary food to meet my immediate and short-term needs. Today, that is. That wouldn’t be the case in an emergency. You see, cooking is a weakness for me. Phil can grab ingredients and make good food. I can’t. I used to become paralyzed in video rental stores – there were just too many options. I also become paralyzed when faced with an immediate need to make food if I don’t have a plan.

So, by the end of September, I hope to have several written menus for the first three day s and first month of an emergency, and make sure that we keep all the ingredients on hand to make those meals. If we don’t have the ingredients in stock, the menu plan isn’t worth anything.

Let me urge you – spend a few minutes reading this brief checklist, then challenge yourself in one area. Set a specific goal of what you want to accomplish before the end of September (National Preparedness Month). That’s only two weeks away, so be reasonable about what you might be able to do, but don’t be too easy on yourself. The harder you work now, the easier you’ll have it when you need it.

Water

  • Recommendation: The government recommends 1 gallon per person (and pet) per day for drinking and cooking. We say more is better, but 1 gallon is a minimum place to start. Oh, and if you want to keep yourself and your things clean, plan on needing more water.
  • How much water do you need/want to store:
    ____ (Number of people/pets) x ____ (number of days) x 1 gallon
  • How much water do you have stored: ________
  • What are you going to do to upgrade your water storage and/or purification capabilities?

Food

  • Recommendation: The average adult intake is about 2000 calories/day under normal conditions. In an emergency, you’re likely to be burning more calories than that, so if you can plan for 3000 calories/day, that’s a good thing.
  • How much food do you want/need to store:
    ____ (Number of people) x ____ (number of days) x _____ (number of calories)
  • How much food do you have stored: ________
  • Don’t forget pets. If you have pets, how much do they eat each day? Multiply that by the number of days and you know how much pet food you need to have stored.

An Alternate Approach — Having just given you the formula, let me tell you that I don’t use the formula any more. I did at first, as I was developing my plan and understanding of long-term food storage. Now I take a different approach. I consider my preps in three stages: immediate, short-term and long-term. I approach my evaluation according to these three stages:

  • Immediate: How many meals can I make with little or no preparation in the first 72 hours? My goal is 3 meals per day for 6 people. I can easily look at my pantry and determine if I am at that goal.
  • Short-Term: How many meals can I make from my pantry with minimal dipping into my long-term storage food during the first month? My goal is 3 meals per day for 8 people, with some desserts added to help keep up morale. Again, I’m going to visually inspect my pantry to determine if my goal is met.
  • Long-Term: How much long-term food do I have? Phil and I met our one-year plan for the two of us last year, so now we look at how many other people can we help.

Cooking

  • If the power grid is down, do you have the capability to cook the food you have? What key purchase would allow you to say “yes” in response to that question? Consider a propane camping stove (don’t forget to store some propane), an outdoor fire pit with grill, a rocket stove and/or a solar oven. (I have plans for a DIY solar oven that I can’t wait to try. Oh if there were just enough hours in the day!)
  • Do you know how to cook the food you have with the cooking method(s) available?

Shelter/Heat

  • If for any reason your current shelter is no longer available, do you have a backup plan? Where will you go and how will you get there? What kind of challenges are you likely to face in getting there? What will you take with you? What do you need to be able to make the trip? How quickly can you be on the road?
  • In a no-power-grid situation (whether it’s from a snow storm, a tornado, a hurricane, or a power-grid failure) do you have a plan to keep you family warm? Start with buying extra clothes and blankets. Add to it by developing an alternate heat source.

Security

  • Is your home an easy target for being broken into? What can you do to “harden” your home? (Think about things like upgrading your entry doors or planting thorny bushes under first floor windows.)
  • Are you prepared to protect your family? What do you need to do to become more prepared and better trained?

Documentation

  • How’s your prepper notebook coming? Read more about it here. People tend to put off gathering important documents and creating a prepper notebook. If this is the one thing you do during National Preparedness Month, you will have done a good thing.

What’s your Preparedness Check and Challenge goal for this National Preparedness Month?

In case you haven’t seen the emails or heard the news, allow me to let you in on a secret — September is National Preparedness Month. That brings several questions to my mind:

  • Am I more prepared today than I was at this time last year? In the light of the very long list of things I could (and want to) be doing to be better prepared, it’s often easy for me to be discouraged by this question. That’s when I say “STOP! Take a deep breath and let’s get specific.” When I made a specific list of things I have done this year to become more prepared, it turned my discouragement around. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed. Stop. Take a deep breath and encourage yourself before you move on. (Having trouble identifying what you’ve done to improve your preps this year? Maybe reading our list will help. It’s at the end of this article. We’re providing it just to help you jumpstart your list of things you’ve done.)
  • How can I take advantage of National Preparedness Month? One obvious answer is to take advantage of the sales that most preparedness vendors are having this month. It’s a great time to make some very strategic purchases. The definition of “strategic purchases” will be different for everyone, so before you make those purchases, now is a great time to evaluate your preparedness – otherwise, how can the purchases you make be strategic? While we generally have the perspective that buying more food is always a good thing, our cash available for purchases isn’t unlimited (not even close to it). That means that we have to balance our spending and fill in some of the gaps in our preparedness plan. So, as good as the food sales might be, perhaps the most strategic purchase would be a sun oven or a rocket stove to help you cook some of that food if your normal energy sources aren’t available. Maybe it will be a solar energy kit. We can’t know that until we take a step back and evaluate where we are. Don’t let your “wants” leave you with a long list of “needs.”
  • How can we help our readers take advantage of National Preparedness Month? We are all at different places in our preparedness. Those of you who have been prepping for a while undoubtedly have a list of “next steps” or “wish list” items, many of which will require making some purchases. Later in this article we’re including a list of some of our favorite vendors. You’ll also find ads from some of them in the sidebars of the various pages of our site. Let me offer a bit of help to those who are new to prepping. The question we get asked most often is “How do I get started?” If you’re in that category, stick around! In a month or two, we’ll be starting a “Prepper 101 Club” (or something like that). It will help you get started in prepping with a logical and easy to follow approach. In the meantime, what can you do this month? A great place to start is by reading our article, Getting Started with Prepping. After that, start with the most basic stuff – water and food. Below you’ll find some links to other articles that will help you get started.

Water comes first. How adequate is your water supply? (Hint: You need more than you think.) How do you go about collecting and storing water? Check out these blogs:

Storing Water – How Much is Enough?

Water Storage – a Primer

Our Three-Layered Approach to Prepping – This blog is a good intro about to our approach to prepping in general (short term, medium term, and longer term), and we use water storage as our example, so it gives you an idea about how to plan for your water storage needs.

Food is next. We recommend starting with our two-part Food Storage 101 series:

Food Storage 101: What Types of Food Can I Store for an Emergency?

Food Storage 101: What Types of Food Should I Store for an Emergency?

Once you’re past that pre-school stage, browse our site for other articles on food storage, preservation, gardening, and more.

Now food and water are just the beginning, but everyone has to start somewhere and we don’t want to overwhelm anyone. Wandering around our site will help you understand prepping more and will help you identify where you should spend your money and time this month.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite vendors:

Emergency Essentials
TheReadyStore.com
Both of these vendors are preparedness superstores. They’re best known for their food products, but they both offer a wide range of preparedness products. Both of them have frequent sales.

AugasonFarms.com
Augason Farms is almost exclusively a food vendor. They also run great sales, especially on their large pails of staples. When they put stuff on sale, their prices generally can’t be beat.

Amazon.com
We buy a lot of stuff from Amazon. So much so that we have a membership to Amazon Prime, which gives us free 2nd-day shipping on most items.

SpicesForLess.com
One of the most overlooked area of food storage is spices. All of those buckets of beans, rice, and wheat are going to taste pretty bland without a good supply of spices. Spices For Less sells a wide range of spices and seasonings in any quantity you want, with good discounts applied to larger quantities.

Biblica.com
It’s no secret that The Approaching Day Prepper is a site that has Christian beliefs and values at its core. We believe that God sometimes gives warnings of approaching calamities and that when He does, He expects people to prepare themselves for those events. We also believe that if a prolong period of hardship were to come upon our nation, people who have never given much thought to spiritual matters will seek God. Part of our preps is a stockpile of inexpensive Bibles and New Testaments that we’ve purchased from Biblica.com. We want to be ready to lead a network of home Bible studies and we recognize that in today’s culture, not every home has a Bible. Ours now has dozens of very affordable Bibles that can be given out freely to anyone who will use one.

Here’s what we’ve done to improve our preparedness this year. We still have LOTS more to do. But perhaps reading our list will help you identify your own progress since last September.

  • We’ve started making and storing meals in jars. (Watch for a future blog on this topic!).
  • We expanded our garden by 50% this year and we learned tons more about gardening that we didn’t have time to implement this year. That’s OK. Learning comes before doing, then doing enhances the learning. We’re making plans for next year’s garden right now, applying some of our “lessons learned” during this growing season, so that we’ll be able to increase the size of our garden next year.
  • We rotated our water and increased our water reserves. This included buying a food-grade water barrel, a rain barrel for the garden, and a Katadyn water filter that can process thousands of gallons of water.
  • We’ve bought an ammo reloading press, dies, components, and supplies.
  • Bought a new rifle that could be used for both hunting and home defense.
  • We’ve picked out a pellet stove that we’ll be buying next week. Watch for an article on that purchase decision to come soon. We know buying a pellet stove doesn’t make sense to many people from a true preparedness point of view, but we decided that it was our best option.
  • We’ve added storage racks and begun to reorganize our long-term food storage.
  • We increased our inventory of long shelf-life food.
  • We’ve purchased many non-food survival items – paper products (at last count we have about 300 rolls of toilet paper, enough facial tissue to last a year, and plenty of paper towels) and miscellaneous supplies like tarps and tape.
  • I learned a lot about essential oils and use them regularly.

We’re making progress. It’s a continual process – one that sometimes gets interrupted by the necessities of work and family, but is never abandoned. We hope that you will take advantage of the sales offered by some of the vendors represented on this site during National Preparedness Month, and that you will become more prepared tomorrow than you are today. Also, watch our Facebook page as we’ll put notices there about sales we find interesting.

Our 3-Layer Approach to PreppingIn just about every area of prepping, we like to use a three-layered approach, moving from simple and easily available preps to more serious long-term solutions. This approach keeps us from being overwhelmed by the enormity of purchases we need to make or knowledge and skills that we need to acquire. It also moves us forward in our preps in a logical and balanced way.

Our three-layered approach maps out like this:

  • Preps for immediate use
  • Preps for medium to long-term use
  • Preps for when things really get bad

Preps for Immediate Use. Usually, the things that fall into the immediate use category are also the easiest to purchase and least expensive. For the most part, these first-level preps are the things that we are already using in our everyday lives. The only difference is that we have more of them on hand than what our current daily needs would require. For example, in the area of water, our immediate use water is store-bought bottled water. We use some bottled water on a routine basis, but we have a bit more than we really use stacked up under a work table in our basement for when special needs arise. You can easily build up this kind of water supply by purchasing a few cases when you go shopping over the next couple of months. We’re in the process of building up to about a week’s supply of water in bottled water.

In an emergency or any unusual situation, this first layer of prepping buys you time to evaluate and adjust to your situation before you have to begin living in a way that you are not so familiar with. In a true emergency, everything changes. Anything you can do to add normalcy to your life brings a level of calm to your world. Grabbing a bottle of water is something we do every day. Having extra bottled water stored away allows me to continue living as I have been while I figure out how to live in a new way — and I don’t have to run out and buy anything because I already have it on hand.

5-gallon-stackable-water-containersPreps for Medium to Long-term Use. This second level of preps are things that you don’t typically use every day under normal circumstances, but they can help you sustain a normal lifestyle when your normal lifestyle becomes disrupted for more than a few days. These types of prep generally require a bit of thought and planning to determine what your needs are and what your best approach is to meeting those needs, and they usually cost a little more than the things you buy for day-to-day use.

This is the level where prepping really starts to become an intentional lifestyle. Buying extra bottled water is a no-brainer for someone who typically uses bottled water as a convenience product, but this second level of prepping is where you start to acquire things that you won’t be using on a routine basis. These are things that you will have on hand in the event that you find yourself in a situation in which your normal way of life is disrupted and the stuff you keep in your cupboard isn’t enough to get you through it.

Sticking with water as our example, we have purchased a set of five-gallon, food-grade, stackable water containers that we fill and rotate regularly. We don’t drink from them during normal times. That’s not what we bought them for. These containers required a little more investment than the cases of water and it takes some time to fill them, but if we find ourselves in a second-level situation that requires more than just a couple of spare cases of bottled water to get us through it, we’ll be glad that we have this on hand ready to meet our hydration needs.

Katadyn_Combi_water_filterPreps for When Things Really Get Bad. Then there’s the third layer of preps – those we make for when things really get bad. Those preps are the ones that will sustain you for a longer time. In the area of water, we recently invested in a small, portable Katadyn water filtration device that can purify up to 13,000 gallons of water to safe drinking standards. We’re talking about water from a stream or pond or rain barrel. This device is about the size of a tall thermos jug and could be easily carried in a backpack. 13,000 gallons of drinking water is enough to meet our needs for a great long while. We have plans for installing a rain barrel system on our house this coming spring that will provide free water for watering our garden and could help supply drinking water in the event of a level-three emergency.

I Love It When I Get To Use My Preps!
We recently experienced a boil alert in our community. The city put up signs at intersections in our neighborhood that told us they were working on the water lines and that we would need to boil our water to make it safe for drinking. That was an understatement if there ever was one! The stuff coming out of our pipes (I’m not sure I’d call it water) was brown and nasty looking. How brown was it? Think strong iced tea. Yeah, that kind of brown. Phil left for work shortly after we learned of the alert and noticed the alarming color of the water coming out of our tap. That left me home to deal with living with no water.

Intrepid prepper that I’ve become, my first reaction was to wonder what in the world was I going to do for water over the next indefinite period of time. All of a sudden, I wanted water. I don’t drink nearly as much of it as I should on a regular basis, but knowing I couldn’t have any really increased my desire for it. I mean I couldn’t drink Diet Coke exclusively for the next few days, so what was I going to do? Tea was my next option, but the water was so yucky I really didn’t want to drink any of it even if I had boiled it! Boiling this stuff wasn’t really going to make it clean and safe — just hot.

Yeah, I’m still new at this. My prepper instincts didn’t kick in right away.

But it wasn’t long before my newly minted prepper training kicked in. I remembered those cases of bottled water we have stored under the work table in our basement. For the three days that our water was questionable, I had all the water I could ever want available in those cases of bottled water. And if it went longer than those three day, I could refill the bottles of water from our five-gallon jugs. And if we started to run low on that, we could refill the five-gallon containers with water from our Katadyn water filter.

I went from being a bit worried to totally confident we could take care of ourselves. No running out to the store hoping they still had bottled water on the shelves. No rationing here. (Obviously, in a true emergency there would be rationing.)

This short-term inconvenience allowed me to use some of my first-level preps in a real-life (albeit non-emergency) situation. And it reinforced one of the main reasons we prep – so that we can take the “emergency” out of the emergency. My emotional state changed from nervous to totally calm and even confident – simply because I had stored water.

In a true emergency, knowing that you have what you need to survive allows you to remain calm and puts you in a position to help others. That’s why we prep.

Clean water may not be available in an emergency. Storing water now assures your survival because people can only live a few days without pure, clean water for drinking, cooking and hygiene. Knowing how much to store is the first step. You’ll find the answer here. But knowing how much to store and actually storing it are two different things.

Getting Started

An easy way to get started is by making a commitment to keeping a couple of cases of bottled water in your house. It may only be enough to last you a couple of days, but it’s to purchase and it’s easy to use. It’s something you can probably do within the next week. Making the commitment to have extra bottled water on hand

According to the FDAs website:

Bottled water is considered to have an indefinite safety shelf life if it is produced in accordance with CGMP and quality standard regulations and is stored in an unopened, properly sealed container. Therefore, FDA does not require an expiration date for bottled water. However, long-term storage of bottled water may result in aesthetic defects, such as off-odor and taste. Bottlers may voluntarily put expiration dates on their labels. (www.fda.gov/food/foodsafety/product-specificinformation/bottledwatercarbonatedsoftdrinks/ucm077079.htm)

So you really can consider your bottled water a part of your water storage plan. But somehow I don’t feel as good about it as I do my true long-term storage water. So I am more diligent about rotating my supply of bottled water. I don’t drink a lot of bottled water. (Phil and I have done blind taste tests and found that we like tap water as our favorite most of the time!) But I keep several cases on hand and every now and then grab a bottle as I’m leaving the house. That causes a natural attrition to my stored water and as one case gets about half empty I buy another. Easy-peasy start to any water storage plan.

Long-Term Water Storage

What do I store it in? For true long-term water storage, the best option is to food-grade quality containers that have been made for storing water. (OK, I admit it – until a year ago I didn’t know they had such things!) Phil did some research and price checking and we bought ours from TheReadyStore.com.

Prepper Tip 1:  Be sure to buy spigots for your containers. They come with screw-top lids, but they don’t come with spigots that make it easy to dispense the water. They only cost a couple of bucks each and you don’t have to have one for every container. Just one for every container that you’re currently serving from and maybe one or two as back-up units. We didn’t think to add them to our container order and then had to pay separate shipping costs for the spigots. I learned the value of having a spigot when we had a water outage during Super Storm Sandy. Phil was out of town, and I stared at stacks of 5-gallon containers of water with no easy access to their contents. Needless to say I was thankful for my bottled water collection for those couple of days.

Prepper Tip 2:  Phil added this tip when he edited my article about how much water to store – “Large water barrels and tanks are great, but for the sake of mobility, a 5-gallon container is the largest size that most people can move or carry without excessive strain.” You can buy water storage drums and tanks of varying sizes. The Ready Store has tanks up to 500 gallons (if you want to shell out almost $1,300 for one). That’s a lot of water, but you aren’t ever going to be able to move it.

How do I store water? Our containers came with instructions about how to prepare them for use, which was really nice simply because it meant we didn’t have to find that info (even though it’s all over the internet). Basically, you’ll want to wash, sanitize and rinse the containers with warm soapy water and unscented bleach.

  • Wash the container with the warm soapy water, rinse it thoroughly – you’re done.
  • Sanitize the container by adding 1 teaspoon of liquid bleach to 1 quart of water. Pour it in, shake the container vigorously, let it sit for a minute or so, then empty the container.
  • Either let the container air dry or rinse it thoroughly with clean water.

Fill the containers and LABEL them. Be sure to put either the date you filled them or the “expiration date” (or both). That takes us back to our discussion from the FDA. Technically, water doesn’t have an expiration date. But everybody seems to say that you should rotate your water every 6 months. OK. I’ll repeat what the experts say and I’ll even try to follow that rule. But if my water was older than 6 months, I’d still drink it in an emergency. (Don’t tell anyone I said that, OK?) I’d probably purify it first. (See below.)

Prepper Tip 3:  Store unscented liquid bleach near your water to use in purifying it if necessary.

Where do I store water? A cool dry place. Think basement. It’s not so much for the sake of the water as it is for the protection of the plastic container that the water is kept in.

Other storage options: If buying containers is out of your price range, you can store water in any food-grade plastic container (like 2-liter soda bottles) that can be sealed. If you are using containers not purchased for the purpose of storing water, be sure the containers you use:

  • Can be tightly sealed.
  • Are not made of glass (they break too easily and they’re too heavy).
  • Have never held a toxic substance (if you’re not sure, don’t use it).
  • Are not milk cartons or bottles (they’re too difficult to get clean and they may not seal tightly).
  • Do not have a #7 recycling symbol (these bottles are made with polycarbonate plastics and should not be used for water storage).
  • Are not used pre-packaged water bottles (these bottles are made for one-time use).

In the realm of prepping, storing water is not only the most important, but also the easiest and least expensive part of your emergency preparations. Set aside a few dollars and a few hours and you’ll be able to store enough water for you and your family for most emergencies you’ll face. In the future, we’ll blog about more intense water storage, but this will get you started.

Click here for an article on finding water in and around your house.

Click here for an article on purifying water.