Water bottles, the small ones up to gallon containers and even the three gallon containers, have become so flimsy that you might as well be drinking water from Ziploc bags. They should market them as collapsible, because some of the bottles will almost collapse when you try to open them. Some, if not many of the bottles today, are not ideal for long-term water storage, because of how thin the material is.
The packaging now makes it more difficult to store them long-term, because they are easily punctured and they will crack and begin to leak sitting on the shelf. The material becomes brittle and cracks even when not being handled.
Supposedly the bottles are made this way to cut down on the amount of plastics in landfills. The manufactures have come out ahead however, because of the reduced costs of materials that go into producing the bottles.
According to miwaterstewardship.org it can take up to 450 years for the average plastic beverage bottle to decompose. Therefore, the reasoning is that the less material in a plastic beverage bottle the less time it takes to decompose completely. This of course begs the question, why do they feel so cheap that they may not last the trip home from the grocery store then (Michigan Water, 2015).
Of course, there are water bottles that are rather sturdy, and can be refilled repeatedly for storage of water. You will likely pay more, but you buy less often if you can refill them from your tap or other reliable source.
The point is of course is that in many situations, you would need reliable water storage containers that can be easily transported, and can take a little rough handling in a backpack or vehicle. The cheap bottles you buy at the store may not hold up long enough in the trunk of your car to get a case home.
Gallon or small plastic jugs that vinegar was sold in are ideal, because the plastic is heavy and will hold up well even after repeated fillings.
Only use containers that had contained products for human consumption. Any container that is to be used for water storage should be cleaned and sanitized before adding drinking water.
Most plastic soda bottles are still heavy enough to refill a number of times, but you will need to clean the bottles several times to remove the taste of the soda, and remember to clean/sanitize the caps as well. The liter bottles seem to be less sturdy than the 20 ounce soda bottles or even the smaller ones, but they can be refilled several times with drinking water for storage.
Food grade plastic water containers manufactured specifically for water storage are probably the best alternative. You can purchase up to five gallon containers for water storage in most camping sections of Wal-Mart’s or other retailers. Some of the containers even have wheels and handles for easier transport. These are ideal for long term storage because they can be transported in most vehicles.
The bigger containers 10 gallons and up, are primarily for storage at home or at a bug-out retreat. Ten gallons of water weighs over 80 pounds making the containers difficult to move, and store in some cases, if you live on an upper floor or have sub-floors. Weight is a factor when it comes to water storage. Water weighs roughly 8.3 pounds per gallon and then you would need to add the weight of the container.
One 50 gallon barrel of water would weigh over 400 pounds, so make sure you have the capability to store water in large amounts. Remember you have to fill the larger containers, such as 50 gallon barrels, in place unless you have the means to move this much weight after they are filled.
The average person uses between 80 and 100 gallons per day and showers, baths, laundry, toilet flushing, dishwashing, oral care, hand washing, drinking and cooking account for the usage. You cannot store 100 gallons per person per day to use when the SHTF, but you have to store enough to give you time to seek other sources (USGS, n.d.).
Private Wells are a good option, but beyond that your options are limited, because public sources will run out fast. Even lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams on private land may not be reliable sources in the long-term. The local authorities in some cases, along with desperate people can overtake the sources with or without your consent during an extended crisis.
You will need between three and five gallons per person per day during a crisis. This allows for drinking water, cooking, bathing, oral care, and medical treatment. Water usage has to be calculated carefully. Your needs may differ from others, so put pencil to paper and come up with an amount and then add 15 percent more.
Michigan Water. (2015). Retrieved 2015, from http://www.miwaterstewardship.org/youthstewards/factsaboutwater/testyourknowledge/householdwastethatsgarbage
USGS. (n.d.). Retrieved 2015, from http://water.usgs.gov/edu/qa-home-percapita.html