Where Should You Store Your Emergency Water If You Live in an Apartment

Preparing for SHTF

It’s not as easy as it may sound either. Water weighs approximately 8.5 pounds per gallon, which means that you have to choose where you store your water carefully. It would not be hard to imagine a shelf collapsing under the weight. Five one gallon jugs of water would weigh slightly over 40 pounds, and a shelf already loaded down with canned goods would be under considerable strain.  

Avoid Using the Following Containers to Store Safe Water

  • Containers that cannot be sealed tightly
  • Containers that can break, such as glass bottles
  • Containers that have ever been used for any toxic solid or liquid chemicals (includes old bleach containers)
  • Plastic or cardboard bottles, jugs, and containers used for milk or fruit juices

It is all about the packaging material when it comes to storing water. You can of course repurpose containers that previously had stored water or certain other foods. According to the CDC, however, water not commercially bottled should be discarded after six months. A previous article had discussed the safe bottling of water at home, and it detailed how to properly sanitize water storage containers (CDC, 2015).

A major obstacle if you want to call it that would be where to store water because of its weight. A 50 gallon container of water would weigh over 400 pounds, and 50 gallons of water would not last a family of four very long if you consider each person would need between 3 and 5 gallons per day for hydration, cooking, area sanitation/cleanup, and personal hygiene.

If you live in an apartment building on the upper floors, weight may become a concern, not to mention space. Older buildings may have weight restrictions. Some of you may remember when waterbeds were popular. Because of the popularity many apartments had to state in their lease contracts that they were not allowed because of the weight, and because of water damage that would be caused due to a leak. There is not a lot of water in a waterbed, so you can imagine what kind of a problem 4 or 5 five 50 gallon barrels could create.

There is an option however, and that is your spare bathtub. If you have two bathrooms one can be used to store water. If you have the standard 35 gallon bathtub that was installed in the apartment then you have to assume the builders had reinforced the subfloor under the tub to accommodate what 35 gallons of water would weigh. Leaks in any container would of course go down the drain. The engineers would also have to accommodate for the weight of a person in a full tub of water as well.

Other parts of the apartment may not have the same reinforced flooring. Bedrooms often times do however, have reinforced subfloors to accommodate heavier beds, but you would have to check with the building supervisor or manager.

The tub may hold even more than 35 gallons but 35 is the lower end of the standard, so it could be up to 50 or even more depending on the style and the apartment itself. Now you have a place to store up to 35 gallons of water safely, and even more if you wanted to use the other tub increasing your stockpile to 70 gallons. This of course does not mean that you cannot store water by the gallon in your pantry or kitchen, but you would again have to be aware of the weight.

Some apartments offer storage rooms or small lockers that may or may not be community storage. If you have a storage room in the basement then you do have another option as long as you can fill a 50 gallon barrel in position. You cannot fill a 50 gallon barrel next to the outdoor spigot and then expect to carry it to the basement storage room.

Access during an emergency is another consideration. Can you get to your water supply during a crisis? Do others have access to your water supply is another question. You cannot trust the quality of your water if others have access to it.

In newer apartment buildings weight may not be a factor, but usually there is some type of weight restriction, because any subfloor would be rated for a certain amount of weight.

You might say well I have heavy friends that come over and it is no problem. Well there is a difference between a heavy object sitting in one place and weight disbursement. People do not park it in one place for weeks or months at a time, they move around. They are not there for an extended period in the same place.

The Following Is an Excerpt from A Rental Agreement, What Does Yours Say

“LIQUID FILLED FURNISHINGS: No liquid filled furniture, receptacle containing more than ten gallons of liquid is permitted without prior written consent and meeting the requirements of the OWNER. RESIDENT also agrees to carry insurance deemed appropriate by OWNER to cover possible losses that may be caused by such items”.

Obviously the lease terms are restrictive, overly so, but failure to comply with a particular clause in your lease/rental agreement may create an insurance nightmare, and other problems, if one of your water containers sprung a leak for example. Know your rights and your obligations before storing large quantities of water.


3 thoughts on “Where Should You Store Your Emergency Water If You Live in an Apartment

  1. 2qt bottles filled under the bathroom sink and next to the toilet. Potable water just in case but mainly for flushing the toilet if water goes off. 3 50gal water barrels (in the truck and storage area) as well as filled canteens and 5 gal water jugs in the closet.

    I fill every spring time and refill again during the summer. I normally empty and clean “drinking water containers” in the fall while leaving the toilet ones alone.
    In Oregon we tend to have a lot of fresh water available in the winter months. So long as you filter, boil or treat it. Nice offset for the extra weight of cold weather and wet weather gear required to live when a roof and walls are unavailable.

    Funny how many people think its “stupid”.

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