Step 7. Store water for an emergencyemergency water

Emergency water is the single best thing that you can store to be more prepared for a major earthquake.

What would you do if you had no running water? 

The Wellington Region's water supply network crosses earthquake fault lines in multiple places. During a major earthquake, the ground movement is likely to cause severe damage to our water pipes. 

After an earthquake, it's likely that water isn’t going to come out of the tap. 

Setting up official drinking water stations is likely to take around 8 days, so you'll need your own supply of emergency water for the first 7 days. Read more about Wellington Water's Community Infrastructure Resilience Programme. 

Drinking water can also become unsafe for other reasons, such as contamination caused by flooding or broken pipes, so emergency water is a good thing to have around.

 Even if you don't have much space, the more water you can store - the better. 

  1. How much emergency water to store
  2. How to store emergency water
  3. Options for storing emergency water
  4. How much bleach to add to emergency water 

How much emergency water do I need to store?

You will need emergency water for each person in your household for seven days. You may need to store more if you have unwell people or small children in your family. Don't forget your pets! You should bear in mind that the average person uses 1,540 litres during a typical week. 

  • Recommended amount of stored emergency water – 140 litres per person per week (20 litres per person per day)

This recommended amount of water should be enough for drinking, food preparation, hand washing and other basic hygiene (brushing teeth and a sponge bath).

  • Minimum amount of stored emergency water – 21 litres per person per week (3 litres per person per day)

The minimum amount is only enough for drinking, cooking and very basic hygiene.

Are you a Water Hero? Take Wellington Water's quiz to find out

Getting your water storage sorted now

Getting your water storage sorted now (PDF, 117 KB)

You need to have to stored water for you and your family for at least seven days.
You may need to store more if you have unwell people or small children in your family. Don't forget your pets.

Also available as an image Get your water storage sorted now (JPG, 78 KB)

Storing water

How to store emergency water

  1. Thoroughly clean your containers with hot water (not boiling, as this will destroy the bottle).
  2. Fill your containers (see below) with cold tap water until it overflows. 
  3. Add a small amount of bleach to help stop bacteria. Add half a teaspoon (2.5ml) of plain (unscented) household bleach to 10 litres of water (a household bucket), or five drops to 1 litre of water. See the amount of bleach to add to stored water.
  4. Write the date that you filled your containers on each one to help you remember when to check and replace the water.
  5. Place the lid on tightly and store in a cool, dark place. Avoid direct sunlight.
  6. Clean and refill the bottles every 12 months.
  7. Before you can use your stored water, you should treat it by:

Making your water safe in an emergency

Making your water safe in an emergency (PDF, 437 KB)

There a simple steps you can take to make water safe in an emergency, including boiling and using bleach.

Also available as an image: Making your water safe in an emergency (JPG, 72 KB)

 

Options for storing emergency water

There are loads of different options for storing emergency water - one for every kind of situation!

                       

Three one-and-a-half litre soft drink bottles

 
     Juice/soft drink bottles

     Clean and reuse juice or soft drink bottles. Store in a cool, dark place. Avoid direct sunlight.

     Do not use milk bottles - any milk residue will contaminate the water.

 

Twenty litre container

 

  10 - 20-litre containers 

  These containers are available from hardware stores. Store in a cool, dark place. Avoid direct sunlight.

 

200L Water tank

 

200-litre water tank 

Your local council sells the 200-litre water tank and kit available for $110 (RRP $265). This is a special deal provided by councils.
Learn more

 

Four-hundred-and-fifty litre tank

Larger tanks  

Available directly from manufacturers and hardware stores. Water storage tanks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. We recommend you check with your local council to see if there are any planning requirements you need to consider before installing a large water tank.

  

How much bleach to add to emergency stored water

Amount of water (litres) Amount of unscented household bleach
1 litre 5 drops (0.25ml)
2 litres 10 drops (0.5ml)
3 litres 15 drops (0.75ml)
4 litres 20 drops (1ml)
5 litres ¼ teaspoon (1.25ml)
10 litres ½ teaspoon (2.5ml)
20 litres 1 teaspoon (5ml)
50 litres 2 ½ teaspoons (12.5ml)
100 litres 5 teaspoons (25ml)
200 litres 10 teaspoons (50ml)

 

Emergency water - downloadable resources (PDFs/PNGs)

Getting your water storage sorted now

Getting your water storage sorted now (PDF, 117 KB)

You need to have to stored water for you and your family for at least seven days.
You may need to store more if you have unwell people or small children in your family. Don't forget your pets.

Also available as an image Get your water storage sorted now (JPG, 78 KB)

Making your water safe in an emergency

Making your water safe in an emergency (PDF, 437 KB)

There a simple steps you can take to make water safe in an emergency, including boiling and using bleach.

Also available as an image: Making your water safe in an emergency (JPG, 72 KB)

Water during an emergency

Water during an emergency (PDF, 163 KB)

During an emergency the pipes that bring water to your home could be damaged.
Follow this flow chart for advice on what to do

Also available as an image Water during an emergency (PNG, 60 KB)

Go to Step 9: Make an emergency toilet

emergency toilets

After a large earthquake, don't flush!

Even if the water is still running, it's likely the wastewater pipes will be broken. When you flush the toilet, your poos and wees may end up in your garden (or your neighbours' gardens)! 

The wastewater network (which takes away the water we pour down the sink and our poos and wees) is even more vulnerable than the drinking water network - its broken pipes would take even longer to find and fix, and there'd be more of them.

Go to Step 9 to find out about how to make an emergency toilet 

Attend a household earthquake planning sessionFind out more at a Household Earthquake Planning session

Attend a free one-hour session to get tips on how you, your household and whānau can stay safe and get through.

The session covers:

  • What could happen your area in an earthquake
  • How to stay safe
  • Key points for your emergency plan
  • Essential emergency supplies
  • How neighbours can help each other

Attend a Household Earthquake Planning session