Water is a finite resource. It’s also one of the most essential resources for human survival. In an emergency situation, few things are more important than being able to access safe, clean drinking water. That leads us to two very important questions: how much water should you store for an emergency? And what type of container should you use for emergency water storage? Keep reading to find out.
Choosing an Emergency Water Storage Container
A quick scan of the interwebs will reveal a variety of containers intended for emergency water storage. Needless to say, they aren’t all created equal. A few things come into play when choosing containers for emergency water storage:
- Material: Most water storage containers are made of food-grade plastic, which is lightweight, inexpensive, and fairly strong. The most important thing to look for is plastic that is BPA-free.
- Durability: The way a container is constructed, as well as the thickness and quality of the container are very important. It needs to be strong enough to hold water over the long haul, and should be resistant to cracking and abrasion.
- Leak Resistance: You need one that has tight seals and will not leak. It’s as simple as that.
It’s also important that you consider the size and capacity of your storage containers. This depends largely on how many people you need to provide water for, and for how long. A good rule is one gallon of water, per person, per day. You can get away with less, but as long as you’re planning ahead, why not play it safe? Be sure to also consider how portable your containers are, in case you need to relocate in an emergency.
Best Emergency Water Storage Containers
There is no single best water storage container. Depending on your situation and needs, you may choose any of the containers on this list. You may also want to choose more than one, in order to be better prepared for a wide range of circumstances. In any case, these are some of the best water storage containers on the market today:
Saratoga Farms 5-Gallon Stackables
These are among the most versatile and convenient for water storage. These containers from Saratoga Farms are great for most people in most situations. Their space-saving design allows you to store more water in a smaller area. Each is light enough that you can carry it if you need to. But, they combine to give you a large storage capacity.
Saratoga Farms are made in the U.S. using 100% non-toxic food grade plastic. Flat bottoms and tops allow them to be stacked easily, and they have handles, so you can pick them up and go. Stackables are available in a pack of 12, which hold 60 total gallons.
Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container
A little bigger and tougher than the stackables, the 7-gallon Aqua-Tainer is rugged enough for outdoor and emergency situations. Each one weighs close to 60 pounds when full (the container on its own weighs 2 pounds). So they’re hefty, but still luggable for most folks.
These containers also have handles, and improved screw-on vents and hideaway spigots for easy pouring. The downside is that they don’t stack quite as neatly, but they’re more affordable in terms of price per gallon of storage. Each container comes with a 5-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects.
RomoTech 50 Gallon Plastic Storage Tank
There are a lot of reasons to recommend this storage tank as a larger, semi-permanent water container. It holds a significant amount of water, and is also made of sturdy BPA-free plastic. It is semi-transparent, and has molded-in graduation marks in both gallons and liters. That makes it easy to see exactly how much water is inside.
Is it portable? Sort of. The tank weighs 25 pounds, and of course, 50 gallons of water is pretty heavy. Two guys could heft it up into the bed of a truck if they had to, but you’ll be happier if you lift it first, and then fill it with water afterwards. This unit also has molded-in channels for saddle straps, so you can strap it down for secure transport.
WaterStorageCube BPA-Free Collapsible Water Container
The container from WaterStorageCube has an innovative design that makes it one of the most convenient and portable water containers in the 5-gallon range. They are made of soft, flexible plastic that folds down into a flat, compact square when not in use. When you’re ready to fill it up, you can pop it open into a 5.3-gallon cube.
This container is reusable, and easy to dry out and fold away for re-use. The only downside is that they aren’t quite as strong as some others. They’re said to be able to withstand a four-foot drop, but you wouldn’t want to test one with a drop much higher than that. On the plus side, with no BPA PVC or DEHP, they’re environmentally friendly, safe, and don’t affect the taste or odor of your water.
Augason Farms 55-Gallon Water Filtration and Storage Kit
An excellent choice for long-term water storage, this water filtration and storage kit is ideal for home use or in an emergency shelter. The main feature is the 55-gallon drum, which is made to meet strict EPA guidelines with BPA-free, food-grade polyethylene plastic. It’s durable, and great for long-term water storage and emergency situations.
The kit also includes a barrel opener, Aquamira water treatment bottles, 2-inch barrel plug fittings and a 6-foot siphon hose with hand pump. Water stored in the 55-gallon drum has an expected shelf life of 4 years, though this depends on where you store it. A dark, dry place between 55°F and 70°F is ideal.
AQUATANK2 Water Storage Bladder (15 Gallon)
With an innovative space-saving design, the AQUATANK2 Water Storage Bladder is a unique water storage solution. Made with a soft, flexible and puncture-resistant nylon shell over a food-grade, BPA-free polyurethane inner lining, the AQUATANK2 is thinner and lighter than any rubber bladder. It’s not completely immune to punctures—you’ll want to keep it way from sharp objects—but it’s very resistant to tears and abrasions.
The 15-gallon version of the AQUATANK2 Water Storage Bladder is ideal in terms of being portable, but additional sizes are available, ranging all the way up to a massive 300 gallon water storage bladder for longer-term use. These are designed with RV water storage in mind, so their great for travel. You can fill it and empty it through the convenient garden hose-threaded fitting.
LCI Plastic Water Can 5 Gallon
The LCI Plastic Water Can is about as rugged and durable as a water storage container gets. This thing is made of heavy-duty military grade plastic (it is, in fact, designed for military use) which can really take a lot of punishment without splitting, cracking or leaking. It’s a little more pricey than your average 5-gallon container, but it’s seriously tough.
The plastic is also BPA-free, and doesn’t affect the taste of the water contained within. The LCI Plastic Water Can has a well-designed handle, and also an extra-large screw-on cap, with a 4-inch opening that makes the container very easy to fill. It also has a smaller venting cap (sort of like a cap-within-a-cap) to make precise pouring easy.
WaterPrepared 320 Gallon Capacity Emergency Water Storage Tanks
The largest emergency water storage option on our list, the WaterPrepared 320 Gallon Emergency Water Storage Tank is actually two tanks. Each has a capacity of 160 gallons, and they can be stacked and locked together to create one giant water storage system. They’re great for an emergency, but also perfect for storing extra water in your home, garage or backyard.
The WaterPrepared tanks are made of rugged blue BPA-free plastic that’s resistant to UV radiation, which makes them ideal for outdoor use. Each tank includes two standard garden spigots, and is reinforced to withstand the pressure of holding hundreds of gallons of water for years, or potentially decades.
Good Ideas Rain Wizard 50 Gallon Plastic Rain Barrel
In an emergency, a system for gathering water could be just as important as a system for storing it. The Good Ideas Rain Wizard 50 Gallon Plastic Rain Barrel is both. It shouldn’t be your only water storage option, because the rain it collects will be off your roof and need to be treated in some way to make it potable, but it’s a great addition to your overall water storage system.
The barrel is made of UV-resistant polyethylene plastic that resists mold, mildew and algae. It’s molded to mimic a classic wood barrel, and has a brass spigot near the bottom to easily dispense water. It holds 50 gallons, and has a screen filter to catch large particles before they get into the water. Many people use the Rain Wizard to catch rainwater for their lawn and garden. It can also be a great backup plan in an emergency.
WaterBOB Bathtub Storage Emergency Drinking Water Container
This is designed for quick emergency water storage in a natural disaster, such as hurricane or severe storm. This is a flexible plastic bladder, which can transform any bathtub into a safe storage space for clean drinking water. It’s available in 100, 200 and 300-gallon sizes.
When the time comes, unfold the WaterBOB container and lay it in your bathtub. Connect the included fill stock to your faucet, and turn it on to fill the container. It’s designed to keep water safe for drinking and other uses for up to 16 weeks. It also comes with a pump for filling smaller containers. The only downside is that you need a source of clean water for this system to be effective. For instance, a water faucet.