How Much Water do I Need?
Estimates vary regarding how much water should be stored for emergencies. Our usage of water in a short term emergency, three days or less, we may be reduced temporarily from our normal use. However, many variables may increase how much water is needed including climate and individual physiology. With longer interruptions our ability to conserve water becomes more difficult and unsafe. So when we consider how much water is needed we need to remember that water is required not only for drinking but for hygiene and cooking as well. Not only that, we need to consider that the likelihood of a prolonged interruption in our water supply is increasing.
FEMA and the American Red Cross, in the publication Food and Water in an Emergency, say that “Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in an emergency” and that we should “Store at least one gallon per person, per day.” They also say that we should “Consider storing at least a two-week supply of water for each member of your family.” The World Health Organization recommends, in their publication How much water is needed in an emergency, between 2 and 4 gallons of water per day to meet basic needs in an emergency.
While emergency experts don’t always agree on how much water should be stored they all agree that having water on hand is essential in an emergency. We believe that for a short interruption in service one gallon, or even less, may be appropriate since some activities can be avoided but longer interruptions require more water on a daily basis. A minimum of 1 gallon per day per family member is essential but 2 gallons is better.
The table below indicates water needs based on the number of family members in the household:
(1) “Family Members” is the number of individuals in the household. If including pets, a medium or large dog requires as much water as an individual and a small dog or cat requires about ½ as much.