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Emergency Water Supplies

Photo of a man stacking bottled water on a shelfIn an emergency, having a supply of clean water for drinking, cooking, and hygiene is a top priority. If a natural or man-made disaster strikes your community, you might temporarily lose access to clean water. Take steps now to store emergency water supplies, and learn other useful tips for accessing water in an emergency to reduce the impact of a disaster on you and your family.

In an emergency, drink at least 2 quarts of water a day, 3 to 4 quarts a day if you are in a hot climate, pregnant, sick, or a child. If supplies run low, don't ration water. Drink the amount you need today and look for more tomorrow. Don't risk dehydration.

Water Storage

  • Store at least 1 gallon of water per person per day for a minimum 3-day supply. This means a family of 4 needs 12 gallons.
  • Be sure to account for pets; dogs and cats typically need 1 gallon each per day.
  • Store water in a cool, dark place in your home, office, or car.
  • Replace water every six months and be sure to check expiration dates on store-bought water.
  • If you use your own containers for storing water, make sure to sanitize them first. To sanitize:
    • Wash containers with dishwashing soap and rinse with water.
    • Sanitize by swishing a solution of 1 teaspoon of liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water on all interior surfaces of the container.
    • Rinse thoroughly with clean water before use.


Learn where the water intake valve to your home is. If you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines, you’ll need to shut off water to your house to avoid letting contaminated water enter your home. Listen to local warnings for more instructions.

Avoid re-using containers that have ever held a toxic substance, containers that can break, like glass, containers without a tight seal, or plastic milk bottles or cartons that can be difficult to clean and can break down over time. Use of food-grade water storage containers, such as those found at surplus or camping supply stores, is recommended if you prepare stored water yourself.

Making Water Safe in an Emergency

If you run out of safe drinking water in an emergency, there are steps you can take to make contaminated water safe to use. REMEMBER: untreated water can make you very sick. It may contain toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and germs that cause diseases like dysentery, typhoid, and hepatitis. Never drink flood water.

For ways to make water safe for drinking or cooking, visit CDC's Healthy Water website.

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