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Your car should be an essential part of your disaster plan. It can be your means of escape during a fast-moving storm or wildfire. Or we might encounter an emergency – such as blizzard conditions or flooded roadways – that could keep us stuck in our vehicle for many hours, like the thousands of drivers who were stuck in their cars during a snowstorm in Virginia.
You may already have a bag of emergency supplies stowed in your trunk for just such a scenario. But the chances are good that you don’t have enough water. Many of us tend to focus on food and survival gear rather than the main thing upon which our lives depend: water.
Although you can survive for several weeks without food, the average person can survive for only about three days without water. All of our bodily processes depend on hydration. Water controls body temperature, breathing, digestion, brain activity, cardiovascular function, and waste removal.
But water is heavy and bulky. How much do you need, and how do you protect your supply for hot and cold temperatures inside your vehicle? This article will offer some tips on how to store emergency water in your car.
1. Avoid Plastic Bottles
Not only are plastic bottles of water bad for the environment, they are also unsuitable for long-term storage in your car – especially in warm climates.
When temperatures rise, the BPAs in plastic water bottles can leach into your water, essentially poisoning it. The integrity of the bottle also is compromised, making leaks a very real possibility.
2. Use Stainless Steel Bottles and BPA-free Plastic Containers
Glass containers are also an option, although you’ll need to cushion them to avoid breakage and fill them only about three-fourths of the way to allow for freezing.
3. Keep a Cooler in Your Car
A cooler can serve as a protective and insulating layer against the heat and cold for your emergency water supply. Another idea is to wrap a survival blanket or sleeping pad around your water containers as a form of insulation.
4. Try Boxed Water
You can purchase boxed water, which is packaged in recyclable packaging that is easy to stack and store. You’ll want to avoid storing boxed water under the seat or anywhere it can get crushed. However, it fits nicely inside a cooler or in a trunk storage bin.
Here are a couple of boxed water options available on Amazon:
5. Consider Canned Water
Canned water is another option for storing water in your car. The Blue Can brand comes in a case of 24 cans made of corrosion-resistant aluminum. The brand boasts a 50-year shelf life for its product. Another option is Drink Weird.
6. Use Bagged Water
Bagged emergency water is also worth considering. These small, flexible pouches are designed to carry and store easily and withstand temperature fluctuations. Here are some options on Amazon to check out:
- Mainstay emergency water, 60-pack
- Datrex Emergency Survival Water Pouch, 64-pack
- SOS Emergency Water, 15-pack
7. Try Hydration Packs
Also known as bladder packs, hydration packs are the flexible reservoirs that fit into your backpacks. For emergencies, consider storing one 100-ounce pack per person. Quality hydration packs offer some protection from freezing and UV rays. Here are a few products to check out:
- WACOOL BPA-Free EVA Hydration Pack Bladder
- MARCHWAY BPA-Free Water Reservoir Bag
- Platypus Hoser Ultralight Taste-Free Water Reservoir
8. Fill Portable Water Containers
BPA-free plastic water containers – often called water cubes – are another idea for storing emergency water in your car. These containers usually have a spout that makes filling personal water bottles convenient.
Here are some choices:
- Scepter BPA-Free 5-Gallon Portable Water Storage Container, two-pack
- UST Five-Gallon Water Carrier Cube
- Water Storage Cube, 1.3/2.6/5.3 gallon
- ITRAZ Collapsible Water Carrier Jug, 5.3 gallon
- Reliance Aqua-Tainer Water Container, 7 gallon
- WaterBrick Stackable Water Storage Container, 3.5 Gallon
FAQs About Storing Water in Your Car
Do I need to rotate the water stored in my vehicle?
How long the water remains fresh and safe to drink depends on the container and the conditions inside your vehicle. Assuming the water and the container were both clean at the time of storage, the water should remain safe to drink for six months.
At a minimum, you’ll want to check your water containers every six months for any signs of leaking or deterioration in the container or packaging. If you need to rotate out your supply, you can use the water you’re replacing to water your plants.
How much water should I keep in my car?
The Red Cross recommends storing one gallon per person per day. This amount is based on the idea that we need a minimum of a half-gallon for drinking and another half-gallon for hygiene and cooking. A three-day supply (more if you have room) is a good idea for your car.
Where should I keep my car’s water supply?
Obviously, the most accessible place is inside the cabin of your car. However, under-the-seat storage can interfere with car electronics, and if you have a large family or a small vehicle, you may not have much space inside the car for more than personal water bottles.
The trunk is the most likely spot for your emergency supply. An advantage is a trunk tends to be more insulated from the heat and cold than the cabin. Of course, the exception is when you are running heat or air conditioning in the cabin.
What if I run out of water?
For more information on storing water for emergency purposes, here are a few resources:
- Preparing an Emergency Food Supply, Storing Water Supplies
- How to Keep Emergency Water in Your Vehicle Unfrozen
- New Ideas & Strategies For Storing Water For Emergencies