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Storing Water in Small Spaces

January 31, 2020

Young boy filling water container at the kitchen sink

Experts recommend that residents of the Pacific Northwest store at least 14 gallons of water per person in your house, in case an earthquake or other disaster strikes. That's enough water for one person's drinking, cooking and sanitation needs for two weeks.

If you live in a small space, finding room for all that water can be a challenge.

Here are some not-so-obvious places you can store water:

  • Under the bed
  • Back of the closet
  • Under the bathroom and kitchen sinks
  • In the refrigerator

A good rule of thumb is to store water in several spots around your home or apartment—you don't necessarily need to keep all your supplies in one place. Just be sure your storage spots are cool and dark, and to check your supply frequently to make water containers haven't started to leak.  

Container options

You can purchase bottled water from the store, or fill your own containers from the tap. If you choose to store water in your own container, make sure that it has a tight seal, is made of food-grade plastic or steel that is designed to hold water, and is properly sanitized before you fill it with tap water. Two-liter soda bottles can also be reused to store water, but avoid using glass bottles or previously used milk or juice bottles.

Jerry cans make good containers for small spaces because they are narrow enough to slide into a cupboard or closet. Brick-style stacking containers also work well in tight spaces.  

It's also a good idea to keep a portable water filter, such as those used for camping and backpacking, with your emergency supplies. If a natural disaster disrupts the public water supply, your stored water will be your go-to source for drinking and cooking. But if your stored water supply runs out, you may need a way to purify other sources of water. Portable filters such as those used for camping and backpacking are small and easy to store. 

Just be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for the water filter you intend to use. After filtering, add a disinfectant such as iodine, chlorine, or chlorine dioxide to the filtered water to kill any viruses and remaining bacteria. 

The bottom line is to plan ahead for an emergency and store water wherever you can in your home or apartment. Start by storing a few gallons and slowly add to your supply over time.  

Get more emergency preparedness tips, and join EWEB's Pledge to Prepare program to get started on your 2-week emergency kit.