Liquid Lifesavers: The Role of Emergency Water Tanks in Crisis Preparedness

Water is the essence of life. It sustains and nurtures all living beings, from the smallest cells to the largest ecosystems. Access to clean, potable water is often taken for granted in our daily lives. We turn on the tap and expect water to flow out. However, in times of crisis, this essential resource can become scarce or contaminated, posing a significant threat to health and survival. This is where emergency water tanks come into play, acting as literal lifesavers in the midst of disaster. This blog explores the critical role of these tanks in crisis preparedness, providing insights into their benefits, the best practices for how to store emergency water, and tips for maintaining your water supply during emergencies.

The Importance of Water in Crisis Situations

During emergencies such as natural disasters, pandemics, or infrastructure failures, the normal supply of water can be disrupted. Floods can contaminate water sources with debris and pathogens, earthquakes can damage pipelines, and power outages can halt water treatment facilities. In such scenarios, having a reliable source of clean water is vital.

Water is necessary for drinking, cooking, sanitation, and even for medical needs. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), each person needs at least one gallon of water per day for drinking and sanitation. Therefore, a three-day emergency supply would amount to 12 gallons of water for a family of four. However, in more severe situations, a longer-term supply might be necessary.

What are Emergency Water Tanks?

Emergency water tanks are specialized containers designed to store large quantities of potable water for use during emergencies. These tanks come in various sizes and materials, catering to different needs and circumstances. They are typically made from durable, food-grade plastic, ensuring the water remains safe for consumption over extended periods.

Types of Emergency Water Tanks

  1. Small Portable Containers: These are ideal for short-term use and easy transport. They usually range from 1 to 5 gallons in capacity and are perfect for personal or small family needs.
  2. Medium-Sized Drums: Often seen in sizes like 55-gallon barrels, these are suitable for households or small groups. They are relatively easy to store and manage while providing substantial water.
  3. Large Stationary Tanks: These can hold anywhere from hundreds to thousands of gallons and are designed for long-term use and larger groups or facilities. They are typically installed in a fixed location and require a more permanent setup.
  4. Collapsible Tanks: These are versatile and can be stored compactly when not in use. They are particularly useful in scenarios where storage space is limited and can be expanded to hold several gallons of water as needed.

How to Store Emergency Water

Storing emergency water correctly is crucial to ensure it remains safe and usable when needed. Here are some key steps and considerations for effective water storage:

Choosing the Right Container

  • Material: Use food-grade containers to prevent any chemicals from leaching into the water. Plastic containers marked with a recycling symbol and the numbers 1, 2, 4, or 7 are generally safe.
  • Size: Consider the amount of water you need and the storage space available. For larger households, a combination of small, medium, and large containers might be the best approach.
  • Sealing: Ensure the container has a tight seal to prevent contamination. Containers with screw-on lids are often more secure.

Preparing the Water for Storage

  • Cleaning: Thoroughly clean and sanitize the containers before filling them with water. Use a mild bleach solution (1 teaspoon of unscented liquid household chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water) to disinfect.
  • Water Source: Use tap water from a municipal source, as it is already treated. If using well water or other sources, treat it with household bleach (8 drops per gallon of water) to ensure its safety.
  • Labeling: Clearly label the containers with the date of storage. This helps track the water’s age and ensures timely rotation.

Storing the Water

  • Environment: Store water in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Excessive heat and light can degrade the plastic containers and the water quality.
  • Rotation: Rotate your water supply every six months to ensure freshness. Even treated and stored water can develop an off taste or potentially harbor bacteria over time.
  • Accessibility: Ensure the stored water is easily accessible in an emergency. Don’t bury it under heavy items or store it in hard-to-reach places.

Benefits of Emergency Water Tanks

Immediate Access to Safe Drinking Water

One of the primary benefits of having emergency water tanks is the immediate access to safe drinking water. Securing clean water can be challenging during a crisis, and having a stored supply ensures that you and your family have enough to drink, cook, and maintain hygiene.

Peace of Mind

Knowing that you have a reliable water supply can significantly reduce stress during an emergency. It allows you to focus on other critical aspects of crisis management, such as shelter, food, and communication.

Versatility and Adaptability

Emergency water tanks are versatile and can be adapted to various needs. Whether you need a small portable container for quick evacuation or a large tank for sheltering in place, there is an option to suit your circumstances.


Investing in emergency water storage can be more cost-effective than buying bottled water or other emergency water supplies. Over time, the initial investment pays off, especially if you live in an area prone to natural disasters or other emergencies.

Maintenance and Care of Emergency Water Tanks

Proper maintenance of your emergency water tanks is crucial to ensure the water remains safe and usable. Here are some tips for maintaining your water storage:

Regular Inspection

  • Check for Leaks: Regularly inspect containers for any signs of leaks or damage. Replace any containers that show wear and tear.
  • Seals and Lids: Ensure seals and lids remain secure and intact. A loose lid can compromise the water quality.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

  • Routine Cleaning: Even if the water looks clean, periodically empty, clean, and sanitize your containers. This prevents the buildup of bacteria and other contaminants.
  • Using Bleach: After cleaning, use a bleach solution to sanitize the containers before refilling them.

Water Quality Testing

  • Testing Kits: Consider using water quality testing kits to check for contaminants periodically. This ensures your stored water remains safe for consumption.
  • Professional Testing: Professional testing might be warranted for large tanks to ensure the water meets safety standards.


In conclusion, emergency water tanks are indispensable tools in crisis preparedness. They provide a reliable and accessible source of clean water, ensuring that you and your family can stay hydrated, healthy, and safe during emergencies. Understanding how to properly store emergency water is key to maintaining its quality and ensuring availability when you need it most.

Investing in suitable containers, preparing and storing water correctly, and maintaining your water storage system can build a robust emergency water supply that offers peace of mind and security in uncertain times. Water is not just a necessity; it becomes a lifeline in emergencies. Make sure you are prepared with your own liquid lifesavers, ready to sustain you through any crisis.

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