What does enough water for 72 hours look like?

Richard Maida
By Richard Maida January 9, 2017 22:08

What does enough water for 72 hours look like?

The Seven Sisters of Urban Survival (Part 1)


What does enough water for 72 hours look like?

For 2 adults, at the maximum standard of 1 gallon per day, per person, for all purposes, it’s 12 – 2 Lt. soda bottles thoroughly cleaned out and refilled with tap water (through a filter if you have one), and bleach added according to the chart below. Cost to you will be near zero. Storage space needed: The bottom of a typical closet.

Or you could get two cases of 24 .5 liter bottles to drink and use 6 2 liter bottles filled for other purposes such as cooking, cleaning, etc. Cost: $10 or less. Or just get 4 cases for $20 or under.  Storage space needed: The cases can slide under a bed. The advantage is that they are easier for drinking and storage, but are a pain to cook with or for cleaning, which is why some go with the mix of both.

A third option is the 3-gallon size water cooler jugs. You don’t need the cooler to use these. In some places, you buy the empty jugs and fill them from your tap. Generally, they are economical enough to buy pre-filled. They are also light enough to lift at about 24 pounds to put on a kitchen or bathroom counter top. You will need a hand-operated pump to use them easier, but that can be gotten from Lowe’s or any number of sources on eBay for $10 or so. You can get 4 (12gal.) for all your 72 hr. needs, but a mix of small bottles, jugs and 2 Lt.’s may fit your storage space and budget better. Storage space needed: If you are going for all 4 jugs, the bottom of an average closet will do.

If you want to go beyond 72, you can also add 5-gallon jugs of water, again using a pump to avoid the need for a water cooler. There are also inexpensive racks for storing two 5 gallon jugs at a time. Three such jugs will give you a week’s worth of water for 2 people.

Remember that you may have milk, juices, energy drinks and sodas on hand you can also drink. But consider them an extra and NOT part of your prepping supply.

One other option is available for those with tubs and not a shower stall. If the event is foreseeable, such as a hurricane or storm, you can cover the drain on the tub with a dollar store rubber cover and seal it with melted candle wax. That will let you fill the tub with water useable for flushing the toilet and to boil for cleaning up with. It can also be used to drink after being boiled and treated with bleach as a precaution. If you have the money there is a liner that fits a tub and can be filled with water and comes with its own hand pump.

One minor note about toilet flushing. Keep a pail and extra 2-liter bottles of water. Bail out half the water in the toilet’s tank before the first flush into the pail. Flush once a day if possible. If doable under you conditions, collect rainwater from a drainpipe to use for flushing. This will be covered in more depth in another article covering sanitation/toilets.


As a former biochemical lab tech, one of the things I learned was when it comes to adding bleach to water for purification purposes, bleach is bleach. As long as the bleach has no additives such as scents, perfumes, or anything else (Oxyclean, etc.) the basic component is the same, 5% Sodium Hypochlorite.  This means the dollar store brand is as good to use for that purpose as the higher name brands. The amounts to use are given as:

1 quart/1 Lt.      2 drops

½ gal/ 2 Lt.        4 drops

1 gal/ 4 Lt.         8 drops

5 gal/ 20 Lt.        ½ teaspoon, or 20 drops

(if the water is cloudy, use double the amount of bleach shown here.)

Remember, once the container is opened, the chlorine level drops, so get the smaller 1 qt. bottles to store for this purpose if possible.

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Richard Maida
By Richard Maida January 9, 2017 22:08
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