Should You Stay?

The best lightning rod for your own protection is you own spine. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Having the right materials on hand is critical to surviving a disaster. And, with proper planning, you can even be comfortable. Your contingency preparations should be for a minimum of three to four days, and longer if your circumstances permit. In the event of a disaster, the following supplies are necessary to have on hand in order to make the decision to stay home. Let’s start with the essence of life…


Drinking (potable) water is a life-sustaining requirement. Under normal living conditions you get a lot of water from your food, but during a disaster you will not be consuming your normal diet. So when storing water, aim for half a gallon of drinking water per day/per person. And that’s just drinking water. You’ll also want water for cooking, bathing, washing dishes and maybe even some clothes. This adds another half-gallon per day, for a total of one and a half gallons per person/per day. Again, this is a minimum daily quantity to have on hand if you shelter-in-place. You may need more if your specific risks warrant it. It’s hard to store too much water!

Water Containers

Storing water is relatively easy. You can use any clean plastic, fiberglass or enamel-lined metal containers. You don’t need special containers – soda bottles work just fine, but plastic milk jugs are hard to clean; it’s best to avoid them. If you drink bottled water, you already have the perfect containers. Fill them from the tap instead of throwing them out or recycling them.

Never store water in a container that has held toxic materials because there is no way of knowing if all traces have been removed. Glass containers are fine but they are vulnerable to breakage and are much heavier to move than plastic.

Water Storage

Decide now where you are going to store your supply of water. A Cool, dark place is ideal but it should also be a place that is less susceptible to damage and that can be accessed easily. Don’t just think about how you will move it to storage now, but how you’ll retrieve it when you need it. Water is heavy; a gallon weighs around 8 pounds.

Ideally, water should be rotated or refilled every six months. Figure out an easy way to put a date on each container the day you fill it. (Dates written on tape with permanent markers can be removed and replaced after each refill.)

Next>> Month 6: Alternate Safe Water Sources