Although it is difficult and impractical to store water in large quantities, experts recommend that a two-week emergency water supply be kept. Store at least fourteen gallons per person -- seven for drinking and seven for other uses. Store even more if there is a baby to care for.

When choosing a water storage container, remember that water weighs 8 pounds per gallon. Store water in thoroughly washed, clean containers, preferably of heavy plastic (not lightweight plastic that milk and water come in) with tight fitting caps. Plastic containers have the advantage of being shatterproof and lighter in weight than glass jugs or bottles.  One to five-gallon containers of rigid plastic are best for water storage. Glass jugs or bottles with screw tops are fine, but are heavier and break more easily. Metal containers tend to impart an unpleasant taste to the water after long storage. Bleach bottles are not appropriate for storing water for drinking or cooking, but are good for storing water for other uses. Water beds can be used for water storage for non-drinking purposes, but an algicide that is food-approved must be used.

Check containers every few months for leaks. At the same time check the water for cloudiness or undesirable appearance or taste. If undesirable appearances or tastes have developed, the water should be discarded.

When stored in clean containers, away from sunlight, and when free from bacteria at the time of storage, water will remain safe. Most disease organisms tend to die during long storage. Generally, the longer the water is stored, the safer it will become bacteriologically.

If the purity of water is in question, purify it with any of the following methods:

FILTRATION Use ceramic, glass fiber, or compressed paper filters to filter particulate matter, bacteria and protozoa. Use carbon filters to reduce chemicals, poor taste, odors and pollutants. Water purifiers are necessary to remove or kill viruses.

CHEMICAL - All water purification chemicals should be rotated to ensure their activity. 1) Halazone tablets may be used according to package directions. 2) Iodine may be used in small amounts. Add three drops of 2% tincture of iodine to each quart of clear water, six drops for cloudy water. Stir thoroughly. 3) Household bleach that contains hypochlorite as its only active ingredient will purify water also. For clear water, add 2 drops per quart, 8 drops per gallon, or 1/2 teaspoon per 5 gallons. For cloudy water, add 4 drops per quart, 16 drops per gallon, or 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons. Stir and allow to stand 30 minutes. The water should have a chlorine odor. If it doesn't, add another dose and let stand 15 minutes. The smell of chlorine in the water is a sign of safety, so it is important NOT to use scented chlorine bleach. Bleach begins to lose its purifying strength after 6 months of storage, so be sure to rotate stored bleach.

BOILING - Boil water for 3-5 minutes. A higher elevation requires longer boiling to compensate for a lower boiling temperature. Add 1 minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level.