Water is an important resource, and winter is no time to run out. It’s easy to take water for granted, especially in the winter, but between cleaning cookware, keeping yourself clean, and staying hydrated, it becomes one of the highest priorities in any kind of emergency situation. Simply keeping 10 gallons of distilled water in your basement (and away from the sun) is a good place to start. Beyond that, water storage can actually become quite tricky. Exposure to sunlight or air can cause algae growth. Sitting for long periods of time can also cause water to go “flat,” or taste terrible, so change out water every six months or so. Be careful to not store water near chemicals such as fuels.

Tip: Liquid bleach can be used to purify water
Two drops purifies a liter of clear water; double for cloudy or tinted water.

So keep a quantity on hand. Bleach loses its potency over time, so mark the date on your “emergency” bottle and change it once a year. Only purify a two-day supply at a time, though: water left to sit longer may become re-contaminated. (Be sure to let treated water sit for 30 minutes before using).

Tip: Your water heater is a good source of emergency water
Shut off the power (or turn off the gas) to the water heater as soon as possible after a major emergency. Then, shut off the water intake valve so possibly contaminated water doesn’t enter the storage tank. Drain the water into containers from the valve at the bottom of the tank. If there’s sediment in the tank, let the drained water sit until the sediment has settled, and then siphon the clear water off the top, being careful not to disturb the sediment. Purify with bleach. (And again, let it sit for half an hour prior to use).