Water Tips

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Scientists predict that a major earthquake could damage the distribution system that provides much of the Bay Area with clean, fresh water. That’s why it’s important to collect and store enough water for drinking, washing, and possibly cooking. 

You’ll need one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. It’s preferable to have one week’s worth of water (seven gallons per person), but your ability to store this much may depend on how much space you have. Store slightly more water if your household includes children or people who are elderly, ill, pregnant, or nursing, and pets.

If you will be buying water to store for emergencies:

  • Purchase it in water in plastic containers (glass bottles may break)
  • Note the expiration date of the water in your calendar so you can replace it

Storing your own water is generally cheaper, but be sure to:

  • Buy food-grade containers (available online and at camping and surplus supplies stores)
  • Wash and rinse containers thoroughly before using them
  • Put a note in your calendar to replace the water every six months (use the water in your garden or for cooking)
  • You can also store water in 2-liter soda bottles. Directions for preparing those bottles are here:

If water mains break or are shut off, you will also need water to flush your toilet:

  • Plastic gallon milk jugs are great for this, but remember they contain milk residue that can breed bacteria that would render the water unsafe for drinking
  • You’ll pour the water into your toilet bowl when you’re ready to flush

Tips: To treat your water during an emergency, you also can use:

  • Filter straws, which clean the water as you sip  
  • Unscented bleach, which in small amounts can disinfect water supplies. See this chart to learn how much bleach you need

For more information, please see: