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Store at least one gallon of water per person, per day in a cool, dark place.

The average individual must drink at least two quarts of water every day. Children, nursing mothers, the elderly and people in warmer climates need more. Additional water should be reserved for personal hygiene and food preparation. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security encourages individuals to store enough water to last a minimum of three days - bearing in mind that water is needed for drinking as well as for personal hygiene. Water should be collected on days when it appears free of sediment or color. On certain days, particularly after a hard rain or heavy snowmelt, some tap water may have a brownish color and contain sediment.

Choose appropriate containers for water storage; disinfect before use.

Clear food-grade plastic containers, such as soft drink bottles, are ideal. Other options include fiberglass or enamel-lined metal containers. Never use a container that has previously held toxic substances. Containers for water should be rinsed with a diluted chlorine bleach solution (one part bleach to ten parts water) before use.  

If necessary, treat water with a chlorine bleach solution prior to storage to prevent buildup of harmful bacteria or pathogens. Replace water every six months.

If your water is treated commercially by a water utility, it is not necessary to treat water before storing it. If you have a well or public water that has not been treated, disinfect the water prior to storage using liquid household bleach containing 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented or color-safe bleaches or bleaches containing soaps. The American Red Cross and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency recommend the following procedure for treating water for storage:

* Add six drops (1/8 teaspoon) of unscented bleach per gallon of water.
* Stir and let stand for 30 minutes.
* If the water does not taste and smell of chlorine after 30 minutes, add another dose of 1/8 teaspoon and let stand another 15 minutes.
* Seal the containers and label with contents and date of preparation.

Identify additional sources of water.

In addition to stored water, other sources include melted ice cubes, water drained from the water heater faucet (if the water heater has not been damaged), water dipped from the flush tanks (not the bowls) of home toilets, and liquids from canned goods such as fruit and vegetable juices. Unsafe water sources include radiators, hot water boilers, waterbeds, and swimming pools and spas.

These tips are based on information provided by emergency preparedness experts from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross.