How Much Water Should We Store

For years, I have heard that we are suppose to store a minimum of one gallon per person for emergencies.  I have wondered where that figure came from for some time and have been doing research on the subject.  Here is a summary of what I have found.

Two-thirds of our body’s weight consists of water.  We need water for circulation, respiration and converting food to energy.  After oxygen, water is the body’s most important need.

We constantly lose water through sweat, urine and even breathing.  You must replace the water your body loses for your organs to continue to work properly.  Dehydration occurs when you don’t have enough water because you’re losing more water than you’re taking in. In extreme heat, an adult can lose almost half a gallon of water through sweat alone.

Without water, dehydration can set in within an hour in severe heat.  A combination of physical exercise and extreme heat and no water can lead to death in as little as several hours.

It’s also easy to become dehydrated in very cold environments.  Cold air does not hold much moisture, every breath you take dehydrates your body, even if you aren’t sweating.

About 80 percent of our daily water intake comes from beverages, and the remaining 20 percent comes from the foods we eat.  This figure is variable depending on the moisture contents of our foods.  Fresh foods will normally have higher water content than dried or preserved foods.

The average American uses 80 gallons to 100 gallons of water per day, including flushing the toilet, showering, and hand washing and cooking.

The Mayo Clinic states the following “So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day”.

Fema suggest a minimum of one gallon a day per person.  Of course, their recommendations are for only three days.  They figure this should give you a small amount of water for hygiene.

In the area in which I live, I plan to store at least two gallons of water per day.  If I lived in the desert, I would probably double that.  The reason for the extra water is twofold; one we would be using a lot of preserved foods and cooking with them would require more water.  Anytime you use water in cooking you will lose a percentage.

The second reason is hygiene, keeping ourselves, our dishes and our clothes clean will go a long way to helping us stay healthy.  So if you are planning on living with stored water for any period of time, store as much as you can, but at least two gallons a day per person.


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One Response to How Much Water Should We Store

  1. Jeff Gagne says:

    As it stands right now we use less than 40 gpd per person. We have a water reducing shower head, front loader washing machine and the kids were trained at a young age to not waste water. We could easily drop that usage with a few simple changes. Having been a water system operator, I know how quickly water can stop flowing from the tap and/or get easily contaminted. I am also a professional gardener and have several tanks/barrels/other containers to store water in (over 2000 gallons), which we get free from our stream. Thank you for pointing this out.

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