How much water should you store for emergencies?

Frequently you’ll hear that you should prepare for an emergency with a gallon of water per person for several days. That’s a good start, but do you really think that is adequate? A gallon will only take care of drinking and basic cleaning needs. Storing the right amount of water for a disaster will make the difference between an inconvenience and real hardship. 

Daily requirements

Under normal conditions the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the average family uses 300 gallons per day. Use this form at to learn how much water you may typically use.

Water is used to brush your teeth, make your coffee, wash your dishes and clothes, rinse your vegetables – the list goes on. In a disaster, let's say we stop flushing the toilet, running the dishwasher, the washing machine, and showering. That should cut out a lot of water. But just how far are you willing to go without washing your face and brushing your teeth. Drinking and cooking are big consumers of water. Dried foods like noodles and rice need lots of water to prepare. Pots, pans, and cooking utensils all need to be cleaned after every meal.

When we lived in California we always talked about storing water for an earthquake. My family never got around to buying water jugs. At best we would pick up a gallon at the store before a big storm. It wasn’t until we moved to Florida and realized that during a hurricane we could truly be cut off from services for days, if not weeks. That was when we finally committed to buying a couple water jugs. It’s really not hard, water has an excellent shelf life, costs nearly nothing, and can make your life miserable without it, or downright comfortable with it. This is a luxury you can afford to splurge on.

Here’s a chart to help you think how much water you should store to be prepared for a family of four.