PACK YOUR BAG! Day 5: Water, water everywhere

Earthquakes can happen any time, anywhere. Thirty years ago tomorrow, a 5.3-magnitude quake rattled people in upstate New York – not what you might think of when you think “earthquake country.” Here, we KNOW we are in quake country, so there’s no excuse not to have at least a little disaster preparedness happening in your home.

That’s the premise behind what we’re doing all month – Washington State Disaster Preparedness Month – here on WSB, with the help of Cindi Barker from West Seattle Be Prepared: Putting together a “go bag.” Today is Day 5 of adding an item a day – but don’t be put off if you’re just getting going – you can catch up in a big hurry OR go start at day 1 and take it from there. Here’s Cindi’s item du jour –

Today we’ll start storing water. Set aside 2 gallons of water per person. You can store tap water in cleaned one litre soda bottles, in which case you would store 4 litres per person. Here is a good guide on how to clean soda bottles and label them for the tap water – go here.

Otherwise, you can just buy the gallon containers at the grocery store.

Advance hint: If you don’t want to drag the collection of water out, fill a total of 7 gallons (14 litres) for each person today and you’ll be completely done with the water needed for your kit. The Red Cross does recommend a bigger stash than I’m suggesting right now, they suggest having a 3-day supply for evacuation and a 2-week supply for home. So if you have lots of room (a 4 person family would have 68 gallons of water to stash!), go for it. But I’m taking a more achievable path and suggesting you store one week’s worth per person, and if you have to evacuate, grab the 3 gallons you would need for those first 3 days. You’re right, it won’t all fit in the kit; start thinking about a place where you can store the kit and the water together. When we get to the end, we’ll talk about the best place to store all this.

Next item, tomorrow – again, don’t feel overwhelmed, do what you can, when you can – the “item a day” plan is intended to be a manageable way to get you from unprepared to somewhat prepared! Catch up by seeing the stories in the WSB “preparedness” archive.

12 Replies to "PACK YOUR BAG! Day 5: Water, water everywhere"

  • karen October 6, 2013 (5:58 pm)

    Another suggestion, if you have a large freezer, is to fill water bottles 1/2 to 3/4 full and freeze them. Then when the power goes out you have not only a water supply but some extra cooling power.

    Plus, a water jug makes a great safe lantern. Fill it with water and then put a headlamp around it, with the light facing in, or put a couple of glow sticks in in.

    • WSB October 6, 2013 (6:01 pm)

      Thanks! Pondering this topic, I was hit with a memory that hasn’t resurfaced in years … living in the San Fernando Valley at the time of the famous 1971 Sylmar quake. Safety concerns led to a huge run on bottled water, which wasn’t as ubiquitous an item back then as it is now … I remember the empty store shelves. – TR

  • miws October 6, 2013 (7:24 pm)

    I stopped by Thriftway on Friday, and one of the items I was going to pick up was a gallon of distilled water. The shelf was completely emptied of the distilled, which is unusual.


    My first thought is there had been a run on it, because of people buying it for the emergency kits they’re building from these daily hints on WSB. Although, it would seem odd that so many would pick distilled, over regular.



  • Bee October 6, 2013 (7:32 pm)

    Where can pre-made emergency kits be purchased around here? Does Red Cross have them? Thanks.

  • Cindi Barker October 6, 2013 (8:00 pm)

    Bee, yes, Red Cross does have them

    The City of Seattle has an entire page of emergency equipment and services vendors, that link is

    And there is a local South Park business on that vendor list who has come out to several West Seattle Emergency Preparedness events and they have a nice selection (and you get to shop local) Their information is

    Emergency Preparedness Services
    309 S Cloverdale, Suite B10, Seattle WA 98108
    206-626-0889 or 888-626-0889

  • kg October 6, 2013 (8:43 pm)

    Pre made kits are great if you want a one stop shop. However, if you are on a budget you can take the list of what is in a pre made kit and purchase those items from separate vendors to save a bit of money.

  • G October 6, 2013 (10:50 pm)

    Here in Encino, I’ve yet to experience a California earthquake, hoping it will be a while. Good advice to have an emergency ration of water.

  • Boy October 6, 2013 (11:19 pm)

    Don’t forget to make sure your water heater is straped realy well. Because this is a source of fifty gallons of potable water. That is alot more then 7 or 8 gallons.

  • Pibal October 6, 2013 (11:38 pm)

    I don’t think this is adding up…

    QUOTE: Set aside 2 gallons of water per person. You can store tap water in cleaned one litre soda bottles, in which case you would store 4 litres per person.
    Graphic: 4 liters per person per day… UNQUOTE

    (WARNING: Public math follows…)

    2 gallons however is 8 quarts. 8 quarts is 8.448 liters.

    So either the 2 gallons reference is incorrect OR the graphic and the 4 liters per person references are incorrect.


  • Cindi Barker October 7, 2013 (9:59 am)

    I should have known someone would test the conversion between gallons and liters. Red Cross numbers are usually in gallons. But if you want to clean out soda bottles, they are universally in liter bottles. So I did the math for gallons, and just substituted 2 liter bottles for 1 gallon, knowing that it is not a perfect conversion. I will bring up this on the day we finish water storage, thank you for doing the math for me!

  • mbanana October 7, 2013 (10:45 am)

    Do you have recommendations for how much water to have on hand for pets? What about nursing mothers with infants? How much extra water is needed?

    Thank you for providing this daily suggestion. It makes putting together a kit much more acheivable.

  • Jordan October 7, 2013 (1:00 pm)

    Yeah, the 7 gallons = 14 liters got me too. It is actually a bit over 26 liters. If you want a quick way to do the conversion for something like this that isn’t that specific, just equate liters to quarts. They are close to equal (a quart is actually .95 liters).

    The other option for the hikers/campers is to have water purification equipment. Then you can use it to purify whatever water you need. We keep both water and a purifier together to cover any amount of time needed.

Sorry, comment time is over.