How To Store Water in Small Spaces

Clean water is the #1 preparedness supply. Along with non-perishable food, an ample supply of clean drinking water is the backbone of any survival stockpile.

How much should you have set aside in case of an emergency?

Generally, one gallon per person per day is the recommended amount to cover basic hydration, cooking, and sanitation needs. It’s recommended you store a 2-week supply, so 14 gallons of water per person.

At minimum, store at least one gallon per person per day for 3 days. Then you can work up to storing more.

The tricky part is, water’s heavy and takes up a lot of space. Storing enough to make you water secure can be a tight squeeze, especially if you don’t have a lot of space to work with. From types of containers to space-saving (and space-creating) hacks, here are 7 tips to help you store water in small spaces.

1. Use every nook and cranny of available space.

This one’s kind of a no brainer, but if your home or apartment is small, you have to work with what minimal space you’ve got. Slip some cases of water bottles under the couch, under the bed, or on top of the refrigerator. Stash a gallon in your nightstand. Do a walkthrough of your home, tape measure in hand, and take note of any vacant spaces where you can shoehorn some water. Just make sure it’s not crammed so tight it affects the structural integrity of the container.

2. Invest in a storage sofa.

We can’t vouch firsthand for how comfortable they are, but couches with built-in storage are the perfect small-space solution when you don’t have a lot of square footage to work with. As an added bonus, your water will be hidden…and safe from sticky fingers if SHTF.

3. Think vertically to minimize your supply’s footprint and use stackable WaterBricks.

If your house or apartment is small, stacking your water will reduce the amount of real estate it takes up in your home. WaterBricks are a great stackable solution:

They’re also thin, so they’re easy to slip single file into a skinny pantry. Thanks to the handles, they’re also easy to transport in case you need bug out. And unlike bulky buckets, WaterBrick’s slim design allows you to walk with two at once without them hitting your legs.

4. Use a water barrel draped with fabric as a coffee or end table.

Water barrels are one of the best ways to store a lot of water at once. A common size is 55 gallons, so in one fell swoop you can pretty much have a family of four’s emergency water needs covered for two weeks (as per above, the ideal recommendation is a gallon per person per day for 14 days, and with a 55-gallon drum, a four-member household would each get 13.75 gallons).

Throw a tablecloth on top and have a study bistro table in your kitchen. Or cover it in fabric and use it as an end table. You could do the same with your stack of water bricks

5. Opt for narrow jerry cans to maximize storage density.

Originally used by Germans in WWII to carry fuel, jerry cans feature a narrow design that makes them a practical water storage solution (as long as they’re unused). They’re often made of food-grade stainless steel, but many modern versions are made of food-grade plastic. Either variety is a safe bet to store your water.

6. Keep “Expand-A-Jug” water carriers in your car.

If your living space is small, it’s time to think outside the box (or house). Your car is a valuable storage unit on wheels. It’s smart to keep water in your car anyway in case of a roadside emergency. If you have the trunk space, it’s a good spot to store some extra water. Bear in mind that the water stored in your car will have to withstand temperature extremes, and you should rotate your car stash sooner than water stored in a temperature-controlled environment.

Another tip for thinking beyond the home – go underground. If you live in a small cabin with some land, or even a city apartment with a decent-sized yard, you can opt to get an underground water tank.  They’re pricey but your peace of mind prevails.

7. Have canning jars in your cabinet? Fill them with water.

Glass isn’t the best long-term water storage option since it’s fragile. That said, if you have a bunch of mason jars sitting in your cabinet, filling them with water is an easy way to have extra water on hand that takes up no additional space since they’d be sitting there anyway.

Just make sure to sterilize them first so not a speck of food or bacteria remains behind before filling.

Final Word on Water Storage

Remember to rotate your water supply. Although water itself has an indefinite shelf life, rotating your supply can keep it tasting the freshest. Plus, if you’re storing water in plastic, over time some of the plastic will leech into the water. A good timeline is to swap out stored water for fresh water every 6-12 months.

The bottom line is, even if you’re tight on space, having a personal supply of safe drinking water set aside for an emergency is a must. Try a few of the ideas on this list to maximize the amount of water you’re storing even when space is limited. 

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