Water at the Ready

After a disaster, it’s critical that you have water on hand in case the water normally provided by Washington Water is unavailable.

How much water should you set aside for use in an emergency? Use these guidelines to decide.

  • As a general rule, you need at least one gallon of water per person per day (half a gallon for drinking; half a gallon for cooking and cleaning).
  • This amount will vary depending on age, activity, physical condition, and diet.
  • If it is hot, you will need more water — double the normal amount if it is very hot.
  • Children, nursing mothers, and sick people require more water.
  • Some additional water should be on hand for medical emergencies.

There are several ways you can make sure your emergency water supply stays fresh.

  • Purchase commercially bottled water, keep it sealed, and replace it after its “use by” date.
  • Purchase a food-grade water-storage container from a camping supply store, thoroughly clean and rinse it, and fill it with water in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Store your water in a cool, dry place. If you are not using commercially bottled water, replace it every six months.
  • Empty large plastic soft-drink bottles (not milk or juice containers, because they may promote bacterial growth), thoroughly clean and rinse them, sanitize them with household chlorine bleach (one teaspoon of non-scented bleach to a quart of water, swished in the bottle so it touches all surfaces), rinse thoroughly with warm water, and fill to the top with tap water. Add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach. Seal tightly using the original cap, being careful not to touch the inside with your fingers. Write the date on the outside of the bottle and store out of direct sunlight.

You can also stretch your stored drinking water supply by using it for drinking and cooking only. Water that is suitable for other uses can be found elsewhere. For example, water collected from your downspout can be used for bathing. It does not have to be of the same high quality as your drinking water. This water can also be treated, as noted above and be used for general housekeeping. It can also be used to refill toilet tanks. Water from springs, lakes and snow melt can also be useful. It is extremely important, however that you keep all gathered water that has not been purchased or piped to you away from your stored, potable drinking water supply.