Storing Water for an Emergency Course: Lesson 3 – Red Cross Recommendations for Storing Water

NEXT: Lesson 4 (or click here for the Table of Contents)

In this video we are going to be looking at the Red Cross Recommendations for Storing Water. The Red Cross recommendations are good, but they are overly simplified. This is not a criticism of the Red Cross, because their job is to communicate this complicated subject in only a couple paragraphs, which is as much as most people will read. We are obviously going to cover this issue in more depth, but this information is a good starting point.

The Red Cross recommendations are incorporated into our free ebook that we provide to everyone, so if you want to share this ebook with people, simple tell them to send an email to and the book will automatically be sent to them.

The transcript of this video is below for your reference.


Hello this is Glenn Meder and I want to welcome you to this class. Today we’re going to be talking about Red Cross recommendations for storing water. The Red Cross recommendations are a good starting point to understand this. We’re going to be referencing this pamphlet, “Food and Water in an Emergency.” It’s a very good pamphlet.

We are including this pamphlet in the eBook that is included with this course so I do recommend that you print the eBook out store it in a safe place. This booklet by the Red Cross is a valuable resource, but it is overly simplified. And I’m not being critical of the Red Cross by saying this. They have a very difficult job to do. They are trying to communicate a very complicated issue to a lot of people. So what they do is they take this complicated issue and they have maybe four paragraphs that they are trying to communicate all of this information into. So it is very overly simplified, but it is a good starting point. So let’s get started.

First of all they say, “It is recommended to purchase food-grade water storage containers from surplus or camping supply stores to use for water storage. If you decide to re-use storage containers, choose two-liter, plastic soft drink bottles, not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. The reason is that milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them.”

Now let me do a little editorial here. I agree with everything they’re saying here except the use of the two-litter plastic soft drink bottles. I have concerns about that for the same reason. The sugars that were in the in the water and in the bottle, are also a good source of food for the bacteria, and I’m not sure that it can be adequately cleaned. So I don’t feel comfortable that this is a great option for storing water.

So just continue on with what they say: “Cardboard containers leak easily and are not designed for long-term storage of liquids. Also do not use glass containers because they are heavy and may break.” And I agree with that. “Thoroughly clean the bottles with dishwashing soap and water and rinse completely so there is no residual soap.” So an important point to make here is to distinguish between whether you are doing this before an emergency or after an emergency. If you’re storing water before an emergency happens in the tap water is still safe in the infrastructure is still working fine, then you can rely on tap water to a large degree. So cleaning up the bottles with tap water is okay. If you are storing water after an emergency, all rules change. You can’t rely on tap water at all, so don’t clean out the bottles with tap water. You’re going to have to take extra precautions with that.

“Additionally for plastic soft drink bottles, sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Swish the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.”

“Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If your water utility company treats tap water with chlorine, you do not need to add anything else to the water to keep it clean.” And I will say I don’t agree this. First of all, tap water is not the same everywhere you go. It varies quite a bit around the country. Also it can change from the day to day. It can have some bacteria in it. Chlorine levels can be lower. So tap water might be safe to drink right now, but if you store tap water the bacteria that’s in the tap water. even if it’s just a little bit, can grow and multiply and you can have some serious problems. I do think there is additional purification needed, and I do think that you need to add residual chlorine to every bottle after bottling it.

So they go on to say, “If the water you are using comes from a well water or water sources not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquied household chlorine bleach to each gallon of water. And I would do this as a minimum anyway, even if you’re using tap water.

“Tightly closed container using the original cap. Be careful not to contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your fingers. Write the date on the outside of the container so that you know when you filled it. Store in a cool, dark place. Replace the water every six months if you’re not using commercially bottled water.”

So that’s the extent of the Red Cross recommendations. And like I said, it’s a good starting point, but there’s a lot more to know. So I do recommend that you go beyond the Red Cross recommendations, which is the entire purpose of this course. First, we’re going to explain this issue at a deeper level, because you need to understand what’s going on at every step of the process. One of the first things that you need to think about is that there are two types of stored water. You also need to know more about how to purify the water properly. You need to understand more about the containers and there are many other issues that need to understand.

In the next video I want to tell you about the two different types of stored water why is important not to confuse the two.

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