Ways To Quickly Store Water At Home During Disaster


When disaster strikes, begin storing water IMMEDIATELY!

Lack of clean water will ravage you and your family much quicker and more critically than any shortage of food.

If you do not have clean water for drinking, cleaning, food preparation, and for bathroom-sanitary purposes, dehydration and sickness could tear through your family — especially without the hope of prompt medical attention.

You MUST have enough water…

Crucially important upon recognition of a major and probable long-lasting disaster, every possible container needs to be filled with water RIGHT NOW!

There will be no such thing as having stored too much water.

If and when the power goes out and water pumps go down, what you have on-hand, right now (or in the period of time before the water pressure drops to nothing,) is all that you might have for a very long time.


Ways to store water in your home during an emergency

Empty soda-pop bottles (1-3 liter) are great for water storage.

Fill up the bathtub.

Fill up the washing machine.

There are probably 40 to 60 gallons of water in your hot water tank.

Fill up any kiddie pools.

5-gallon pails (any and all pails).

Plastic storage bins that might be around your home. Empty them of their contents and fill them with water.

Fill New Metal garbage cans lined with liner bags for water seal.

Clean out an existing garbage can and scrub it throughout with bleach, then put in a new garbage bag liner and fill it with water.

Sturdy boxes with bag liners.
Note: Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon!

Dresser drawers could be used with bag liners.
Note: Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon!

Choose wisely where you fill up garbage cans with water because they will not be easily moved after they’re full.


When disaster strikes…
Do not hesitate; fill up every possible container, RIGHT NOW!

Note: The context of this article is an ’emergency’ situation. Garbage bag liners and non-food-grade buckets of water will not kill you (unless you wrap them around your head ;) ). However you WILL die in about 3 days without any water, perhaps a few days longer if you are real lucky. Putting it out there that using a garbage bag to temporarily line a metal trash can or drawers from a dresser, etc., could prove to be life-saving for some people in an emergency. Being concerned about toxicity of the bag itself is something for long-term usage.

Note: How long to boil water for drinking

Note: Bleach-Water Ratio for Drinking Water

Here’s a nice prep item for emergency water storage:
waterBOB Emergency Drinking Water Storage (bathtub liner)


  1. This has been my number 1 concern/plan I have refined this over the years and also it has been revised to the current location where I reside. In Northern Nv, I am blessed to have a residence that has great water, and lots of it, in a “event sitution” I have a 250 gallon ‘supertanker upright plastic’ tank connected to the home supply. it also has its own insulated storage room. The camper has a 100 gallon water tank, Purchased water bobs for the bathtubs, and a 50 gallon plastic tank on a small harbor frieght 24″ by 24″ trailer which is towable with my ATV to any remote fallback areas. In this remote area we have several year round running springs in the high mountains here, and have prepositioned a few 50gal plastic water containers by them. People, doing simple planning AND EXECUTION now is a warm fuzzy that might make the situation so much easier later, so now is the time to “walk the walk”. I have and use both lifestraws and have started using the sawyer mini water filters (they are a small and wonderfull product and they do work) The sawyer mini filters are perfect for water bladders and inline use in campers or even with a water barrel.

    1. Also the water Bobs can be used for several back up options a small outdoor yard area can be dug out to hold a water bob or maybe a pickup bed with a board partition could easily hold 2 or 3 water bobs, love this product as they are cheap, durable (within limits of their use) Their uses are limited only by you, think of the Military water bladders that are flown in by airsupport water bobs have a similar application except due to their fraility you can only fill them in place or transport without a rigid container.

    2. If a power outage lasts 12 hours, fill up the bathtubs (use liners if at all possible). If it lasts 24 hours, fill up EVERYTHING. If anything, these time numbers should be lowered. At (or near) the end of summer, kiddy pools can be bought cheaply at discount stores. I prefer the ones with stiff (now plastic) sides to the inflatable type.

  2. we live in area thats about 3 miles from one of the great lakes and that has a LOT of streams and ponds our problem isnt so much about GETTING water as is about filtering it we have a life straw and i have learned aLOT about filtering it over the years

  3. Thanks for the reminder. Now I need to pick up a big roll of clear plastic. At any given time, we usually have around 1000 gallons of rainwater from roof runoff which is used for watering the inside garden when it doesn’t rain for awhile. Although we have lots of water down here, most of it is polluted. We currently filter everything we drink. Guess I better get busy and build a couple large passive solar stills to use after SHTF.

  4. I am still working on this area. I have the device to put in the tub to fill up and some other buckets/containers. I also have ample filtration equipment….but I don’t have a large storage container on site….and in a bad grid down scenario I would be able to store enough water for about 1 month (human use only) and then we are up a creek. I need to get an above ground container as well. On the to do list.

  5. When a storm hit me and took out the power for a week a few years ago, I saved water using 3 gallons a day for me and my 3 dogs at that time. Having an artesian well nearby made it convenient when power to the pumps in the county were all out. I also had access to 6 hand pumps and a solar pump at the campgrounds near me. Nothing new since I spent my summers at a cabin most my young days without running water and had to haul it from the lake in buckets and used an outhouse. When you do the labor, you find ways to save every drop.

  6. We hope to get our rain barrel hooked up with-in the next two weeks. We are surrounded by water, but I hope to avoid any real need to haul from the pond or stream.

  7. Have a lifestraw for each member of fam.

    A water BOB also.

    The RV water tank.

    Some gal of water stored.

    Two 55 gal rain water catch tanks off garage gutters.

    Still feel it isn’t enough and am working on more ideas. The ideas here are good and am looking forward to hearing ideas from others.

  8. Would those boxes that wine comes in be a good storage option? After the wine is either consumed or dumped (per personal preference), of course. :)

    1. You made me laugh! You just reminded me of our sailboat cruise to Mexico. White wine in Mexico used to be pretty poor quality. We had 4″ access ports on our water tanks for periodic cleaning and were able to stuff about 20 gallons of those partially emptied plastic wine bags into one of our water tanks. So to answer your question, yes the bags are food grade. They can be used to store water in but they might have a slightly off taste. If you have a neighborhood bar or restaurant that serves wine you might ask them about used boxes as the wine is also available in larger boxes. It is frequently served as the “house” wine. If I recall they were 20 liter boxes.

  9. Thanks Ken. Just bought a WaterBob, as well as a couple more collapsible storage containers. Also bought a couple of life straws to add to our other water filtering tools. Thanks for the thought starters on re-purposing every possible container and using plastic trash can liners in an emergency. I would not have thought of it, but containers with Christmas ornaments, wrapping paper, and winter clothes could be emptied, lined and filled in a big hurry. Great ideas!!!

    1. Maybe keep an extra bag or two in each one, JIC? That way you won’t be hunting for bags when you need them.

      1. @Lauren, good idea… in a rush (especially if it’s dark out) having the bag(s) already in the container means no scrambling around for bags in a rush (or possibly in the dark). The collapsible containers will be under the kitchen sink, water bob near the only tub in the house, anything that will make it easier/faster to collect as much water as possible before it stops running. Thanks!

  10. We live at our BOL…our farm. I have mentioned this before but here it is again. Since we don’t have a lot of water we have a 9000 gal cistern under our basement that is filled from the roof & topped off from the well just before winter sets in. Our well is a shallow one with an electric pump but we have a back up hand pump on site. From the well we have an underground line that go to an area near the garden shed for washing veg. before they come to the house & another line that goes to the garden. These lines have to be blown out in the fall as they are not below the frost line. We also have 2 dugouts one of which is only used by the neighbour’s cattle that come to our pasture in the spring. The other one is near the house & can be used if needed. We also have 3 – 18 l. jugs which we fill at the local grocery store as our water doesn’t make great coffee. If that no longer is available, I also have a Britta & 5 filters stored. I think we are fairly well covered. Of course we also get a lot of snow in the winter which in the long past was our main supply with a 45 gal barrel sitting by the wood heater & we had kids to fill it in those days.

  11. Very sound advice. I must admit didn’t think about using a few of them. Thanks for the info Ken.

  12. I’m hoping that this snow will finish filling my tanks. :) We’ll see. That will be an extra 500 gallons (750 if I ever get the third tank set up). I have a water-bob stored near the bathtub and we have a pass-through water heater for extra storage. Not to mention the milk jugs stored in every conceivable location. Nowhere near enough, but a good start.

    Will a water-bob work vertically? Like in a shower? They seem too flexible for that, but with a couple of child-gates across the face of the shower it might work.

    1. @ Lauren
      “Will a water-bob work vertically? Like in a shower?”
      Probably not, water is extremely heavy and would probably burst the Water-Bob once it reaches a certain fill level. The Bob must be supported to hold ALL the weight.

  13. “Water Water everywhere and not a drop to drink.”

    Good reminder on water storage Ken, a very important subject. Three days and your toast, one day with poison/bad water and your again toast.

    BUT, one must KNOW with no uncertainty the stored water is safe to drink or cook with. Filtration, boiling and chemical treatment is a MUST!!
    Stored water can and will turn after some period of time, so if you have large storages of water, filter it and chem treat it. Better to be safe that sick during an emergency.

    I like most of you have quite a bit stored and cycle it out quite often, using it on the garden and such. I do use a Big Berkey Filter for drinking/cooking and have an extra set of filters, plus Sawyer Mini’s in all Bags and Vehicles. FYI, that Big Berkey is FANTASTIC!!!!!

    Regarding the “lined” containers such as trash cans or barrels, use those for the non-consumed water, toilet, watering, and so-on or make dang sure to treat it before consuming.

    Also don’t forget about water/mini-sawyer in the vehicle you’re driving, get stuck away from home and you’ll still need a LOT of water to get home.

  14. Water wells are not only a source of water but also deep storage of water.
    Well water may be all that is not contaminated if surface water is radiated.
    If your water well is to deep to use a handle water pump, and is between 40′ and 300′ deep, you can make a water bailer as seen on several Youtube videos. Most hardwares carry pvc pipe. A 3″ bailer fits a 4″ well casing and costs about $25.00 to make a 4′ section that can bail about 3-5 gallons per pull. Also, for those in suburban areas with a well, this may be a business to sell water with little investment or for charity. Build out takes no more than l hour. Work great. Just pull well cap and guts inside casing. Guts can be pulled with chain fall or vehicle if necessary due to weight. Highly recommend building at least one if you or your neighbor has a well that can not be pumped by hand.

  15. We have several large storage tanks for potable water the problem is getting in to the house. Three tanks set below the grade level of the home, 2 of these are for fire protection as the water comes off of a composition roof, the main tank set beside the well. The next tank is level with the home and the final tank sets above the home(gravity feed) but the lines were designed to come down the the garage level not back up where the home sets.

    We purchased 55 gallon food grade barrels as fire protection before we acquired the 2/5,000 gallon tanks. The white barrels will be used now for watering the decorative trees, our 255 gallon tank will be for the fruit trees. It keeps us from pulling the well down during the time of less water production.

    I store water in vinegar bottles, juice bottles(thoroughly cleaned), soda pop bottles liter size, if it holds water I use it(but not milk cartons).

    We have gone up to 10 days without power. Water storage has become an important item on our list, it is just getting it into the home that has been the problem.
    This matter is on the “to do” list.

    1. Might consider a ram pump for the tank below house grade. Cost little. Run 24 hours a day on no electricity. Easy to make. See Youtube videos.

  16. If you can spare a food cooler, they make a great water container also. I have one that roughly holds 25 gallons and has wheels which makes it easier to move, and a water spick it at the bottom which makes emptying ice water during its normal use.

  17. On the 275 gallon containers they are referred to as ‘IBC totes’. If you are on the east coast you have a greater access to them at a lower price than the west coast. Out here they are charging 185.00 and up. If you are lucky enough to find them below $50.00 they make wonder water storage.

    You can find the pvc conversion valve which will let you hook them up to American standard size fittings on Amazon. Be sure you are purchasing Food Grade IBC totes.

    1. @ antique collector
      Ebay, $149 reconditioned, Shipping may be the killer though.

      1. NRP
        Thanks for the heads up.

        We lucked out an purchased them back in 2004-5 before they became popular at $50.00 each, IBC totes and the 55 gallon plastic drums 2 @ 10.00 all food grade.

    2. I got a 1000 liter IBC for $100, delivered. Trouble is it came from a candy factory so it was coated inside with glycerin and probably HFCS too. It took several washing cycles to get most of it out. A nice big green tarp from Horror Freight and it worked out very well.

  18. I’ve seen the bed of pick up truck lined and filled with water before too.
    Also, we fill the deep utility sink in the laundry room before a storm that might cause power outage.
    And of course, wagons or wheelbarrows could be lined and filled.
    Always have bleach and good filters nearby too.
    We have 2 home made water distillers too for purifying.
    The only thing with that is, you’ll need a lot of wood or other alternative heat source other than electric. (propane, butane, etc.)
    The sun can distill the water too but I would imagine that would take quite a while!

  19. Never thought of using the washing machine to store water. They also make 6 gal water jugs, they look like gas cans. I let mine sit full with a small amount of chlorine for 24 hrs, and then washed it out with some liquid dish wash soap.

  20. waterbeds used to be all the rage.

    if you still had one, guess that would source of water.

    also, could keep your eyes peeled for a waterbed bladder – free/cheap,
    hold a fair bit.

  21. I have a pretty good sized pond, with fish & turtles (and once an alligator, who didn’t last long once discovered), so I’m good for water.
    Hauling out, filtering, and purifying will be a job!

  22. Late on the post. I read a few earlier, but don’t have the time to read all. The relevancy of this topic really depends on where you live. For my rural situation… If you have a well, please find a way to access it w/o power. My way is a very cheap Flo Jack. A few hundred dollars, and i don’t need to worry about this anymore. Combine this with my whole house water filter, which can be adapted to filter other water, the life straws for each family member and vehicles, the 3/4 acre pond, the stream, the 200+ gallons in rain barrels, the 150+ gallons in the water lines/tanks, and the other 100 gallons in stored water, and we are good for awhile.

  23. How should A/C condensation be treated? I use one of those four foot cubed plastic containers in a metal cage to catch water from the A/C for the birds and dogs. They seem to do well with it untreated.
    I’ve never seen this addressed before.

    1. AC Condensate is formed the same way as rain water. Seems to me it should be rather clean from a microbial standpoint. A single pass through a filter should catch any airborne particulates.

  24. Hey all. Another option is an above ground pool.Intex makes an easy set up pool that has no frame.it has an air filled ring on top and stands up on its own as it gets fuller and fuller.Most of them come with a pool cover and a pump(for circulating/cleaning.)Mine holds about 5,000 gallons.I bought it after summer was over on clearance at a K Mart store for under a $100.Might be an issue during the cold months but is great water storage otherwise.People don’t think much about an above ground pool in your yard(the clueless sheep)but having 4 or five thousand gallons is great insurance for emergencies.The vinyl pool cover keeps debris/bugs,critters out and helps keep down the evaporation from the sun.Throw in a little bleach to keep it from turning green and your good.It just has to be on pretty level ground.
    BTW, you need to flush your water heater regularly if you want the water to be clean. the hose bib on the bottom is for that purpose.the sediment that builds up at the bottom of water heaters can be pretty rusty/dirty.That hose bib is how you will get water out when there is no power.(gravity flow)You will also have to open the pressure release valve so the water will flow out easily.(air being pulled in thru the valve to replace the water going out. You can also loosen the hot or cold water lines on top of the water heater too so air is drawn in. Just make sure you turn off the electric breaker to the water heater first. that way if power is restored the water heater doesn’t burn out the elements because there is no water or not enough water covering the elements.

  25. I like the bladders in the truck bed idea. – The town that I live in has a gravity fed reservoir. on the east side of the continental divide, and a huge pump/water station/well on the west side of the divide. They built the reservoir in the late 1800’s. I just learned this recently. Also, I have a spring that runs along the property, and a separate little pond in the back yard that is fed from the gutters… Gold fish, dragon flies, bees, frogs, birds, etc love the little pond. I still worry a ‘little’ about water.
    gravity fed Reverse osmosis is in the kitchen. I plan on buying Berkey or Aqua Rain filters, and making my own filteration system with a couple of 5 gallon buckets. I need to tap into that spring… :)

  26. Best to have gutters on the house and a few spare 55 gal barrels or trash cans available. If you have 6 weeks of water stored prior to an incident you can plan on at least 1″ of rain during that time and you need to be prepared to take advantage. ymmv on rain depending on your location.

  27. have water, I have been thinking about frozen, exploding containers when I don’t have enough heat, such as in a warm room or for example a tent set up in doors. This could turn into a real mess.

    1. just read an article on survival blog archives about Sawyer and other filters such as the big Berkey with ceramic filters that might be compromised once used and freeze with water in the filters. I can’t believe nobody has responded to my question!
      You can’t drink ice off of a kitchen floor in an emergency. Just thinking of all the possibilities.

      1. @Randy
        If the filter has water in it and freezes, in WILL crack and become inefficient and NOT work properly…

  28. Many places have laws against collecting rain water runoff from the roof. I live in one of them and would do it anyway if needed and I don’t know how long it would take before someone actually noticed. months? years?

  29. Many places also have guidelines that they pretend are laws. Look it up and make sure it’s a law. Anyway, there can be no law that says it’s illegal to have IBC totes in your yard, and if you have all the pieces of the system (set it up and test it first) then when it’s really needed they’ll probably have other things to be concerned about than enforcing asinine rules.

    1. There are websites that lists be each state what your “allowed” to do. Type in something like ‘rainwater collection by state’. As far as I’m concerned if it falls on my property it’s mine. : )

      1. You have to look carefully at the wording. Words like “recommended,” “required,” “must.” I found that the documents were worded very carefully, making it LOOK like you weren’t allowed to collect rainwater (or whatever else) but in reality the state/city had just made a ruling in advance of any law and stated it in such a way that most people assume there’s a law behind it.

        The state did make a law against rainwater collection, but lost in court. Most people aren’t aware of that. They didn’t exactly publicize it. Subsequently they put out “guidelines” encouraging people to collect rainwater but only up to a pre-set amount, beyond which they are “required” to register with the state. The law requiring them to register with the state isn’t for rainwater collection but for water rights, and it’s been in place for generations. But people don’t read the small print.

  30. Have seen in the news, over past few yrs, some cases of folks being charged for collecting rainwater, on their own property. Did a quick google..

    “Oregon Man Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail — for Collecting Rainwater on His Property

    By Kendra Alleyne | July 26, 2012 | 8:58 PM EDT

    (CNSNews.com) – A rural Oregon man was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail and over $1,500 in fines because he had three reservoirs on his property to collect and use rainwater

    conviction in Jackson County (Ore.) Circuit Court on nine misdemeanor charges under a 1925 law for having what state water managers called “three illegal reservoirs” on his property – and for filling the reservoirs with rainwater and snow runoff.”


    1. anon that is the case that I had in mind. But I wasn’t able to find what he was actually doing. I got the idea that maybe he was blocking a stream or something? yes, no?

      1. aka

        I just googled something like

        I hunted up some other articles on same..
        I think he was ONLY collecting and storing rain/snow.

        “It all started back in 2002, when Harrington was attacked for having three “reservoirs” – ponds – on his large 170 acres of land.

        But the state claims that collecting water requires a permit from the state.

        One of these “reservoirs” – ponds – had been on his land for 37 years. He applied for the permit, which he saw as ridiculous. But the state first approved him in 2003, then denied him – reversing the previous decision.

        Tom Paul, the administrator of the Oregon Water Resources Department, says that the law doesn’t need to ban collecting rain water, because all of the water in the state is “public water,” which doesn’t actually mean the water belongs to the public, it means the government has claimed ownership of it.

        “The law that he is actually violating is not the 1925 provision, but it’s Oregon law that says all of the water in the state of Oregon is public water and if you want to use that water, either to divert it or to store it, you have to acquire a water right from the state of Oregon before doing that activity.”

        1. sorry, forgot to fill in
          I googled something like

          charged for collecting rainwater

          This however, was on snopes..no idea if they are reliable

          “Harrington stored and used water illegally by placing dams across channels on his property and preventing the flow of water out of these artificial reservoirs without obtaining a water right permit. The height of each dam varies; two dams stand about ten feet tall and the third stands about 20 feet tall. The total amount of water collected behind these dams totals about 40 acre feet; enough to fill almost 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools. These man-made reservoirs feature boat docks, boats, and were stocked by Harrington with trout and Bluegill for recreational fishing.”

        2. I googled some more

          illegal to collect rainwater

          and this was in the Washington Post

          “It is actually illegal in Colorado to collect the rain that falls on your home​

          Do you live in Colorado? Does it rain on your house? Do the drops patter off the roof, compose romantic puddles on your porch?

          Guess what: That water isn’t yours. You can’t have it. And you most certainly cannot set out a tank to catch what falls from the sky, you thief.

          Water laws are so strict in Colorado that rainwater collection is virtually prohibited. The doctrine is written into the state’s Constitution. All the rain is already spoken for. It belongs to someone, and that someone probably isn’t you. So don’t you touch it.

          “The rain barrel is the bong of the Colorado garden,” local columnist Dave Philipps wrote in 2007. “It’s legal to sell one. It’s legal to own one. It’s just not legal to use it for its intended purpose.”

        3. If the SHTF… I seriously doubt someone in “Authority” would attempt to enforce that law. They would have more serious issues to worry about…..
          The same goes for all the BS gun laws at the same time….

      1. Lauren

        speaking of Beavers

        have you heard the news reports, that some researches feel the best way to build back up the water stores/ground water stores in parched California and similar places…….is to…

        import Beavers, re establish Beavers and leave them to do what Beavers do…build dams and build up water…

        I keep wondering (and we keep laughing), do any of these geniuses suggesting this, realise that Beavers build dams/ water reservoirs by knawing down trees…? Beavers most likely do not understand (grin) that all the tree crops are off limits (fruit/nut/etc). I can hardly wait for the first Beaver purchase…(okay okay…get your minds out of the gutter…grin)

  31. If he actually stopped the water from going on downstream I can see where that would be a problem (unless it started on his property). But, did he really do that or did the state trump up some charge….not that they would do that (humor)

    1. aka

      yes, agree with all

      I googled similar terms for the United States and Canada (now)
      and all I seem to come up with is that one story

      however, pretty sure a year or two back, I had read several incidents

      if true, it smacks to me of the town who hides the reduce speed sign behind a tree and then hands out tickets

      1. @ anon
        “I googled similar terms for the United States and Canada (now)
        and all I seem to come up with is that one story”

        Do a search for Andy Johnson in Fort Bridger, Wyoming vs EPA Re: his man-made pond on his own land.

  32. A few months ago I bought a manual well pump for my well and I plan on installing it this summer. The pump kit required me to buy some PVC pipe and a few other things and I have finally purchased everything I need to get it up and running. The whole thing cost me less than $400. My plan is to install it, make sure everything works, and then cover it up (for security reasons). As an added bonus, if I ever have to move I can easily pull the whole thing out and take it with me. This may be one of the best prep investments I have ever made.

  33. DO NOT let beavers in you drinking water !!! There are some VERY NASTY intestonal problems you can pick up from these critters that will make you wish you had heeded this warning. I do not remember the name of these “bio-nastys”, but you will get VERY SICK if they get inside you. !!! BOIL, or better yet, DISTILL any “BEAVER POND” water !!!

    1. CQueen,

      If you’re pressed for time, or on a tight budget, any Wally World, hardware store, building center carry plastic sheeting in differing thickness. Even the lightweight plastic drop cloths 10×25 foot roll would line at least 3, maybe as many as 5 standard tubs for less than $20 bucks, and work in a pinch.(p.s.-that role takes up very tiny space in storage)

  34. The waterbob (tub liner) is essentially a massive plastic bag that fits in the tub. I’ve seen them at grocery stores, I got mine at Emergency Essentials. They run about 40ish online.

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