Storing water for emergencies Civil Defence logo

This page describes how to store water for use in emergencies.

Store at least 3 litres each for at least three days

You need to store at least three litres of drinking water per person in your house per day, and have enough to last at least three days. Store more for cooking, cleaning and hygiene. Store as much as you can!

How to store water

  • Save plastic soft drink or juice bottles. Don’t use milk containers as it is practically impossible to remove the milk residue. You can also buy large emergency water containers from the council office, also check out hardware stores and catering suppliers.
  • Wash the bottle thoroughly in hot water and detergent.
  • Fill the bottle with cold tap water until it overflows.
  • Screw the lid on tightly.
  • Put it in a cool, dark place - in a cupboard, in the garage, the shed, under the bed - anywhere you can find room! Keeping it in the dark means that things are less likely to grow in your water, and the plastic will last longer.
  • Storing some in the freezer means you can use the ice to cool food in the fridge in the event of a power cut, or put it in the chilly bin when you go out for a picnic, to keep things cold and have an ice-cold drink!
  • Replace the water every 12 months. Since our tap water is chlorinated, it will stay clean for a long time. If you have used filtered water, water from an aquifer (like the one in Petone), or rainwater, you may have to check it more often - it doesn’t have the chlorine to keep it clean.

If you are uncertain about how clean the water is when you need to use it, you can make it safe to drink by getting it to a rolling boil. This will kill any bugs. Using your electric jug is just fine if you have power, use a gas cooker if not.

Don’t forget that while your plastic bottles are still full of soft drink or juice, you can drink that too!

If you haven’t put chemicals in the cistern of the toilet (not the bowl!) then that water can be used too – it came from the same place as your drinking water.

If you have braced your hot water cylinder and header tank, then that may be another source of water.

Learn about how to get water out of the hot water cylinder and discover other places to find water in an emergency

Find out how to make water safe to drink

Links to more emergency information

Porirua’s current emergency status - What's happening now? - The WREMO website for emergency updates and preparedness information

Wellington Region Emergency Management Office Facebook page – Learn how you can store water for an emergency – Get the latest information on civil defence emergencies in New Zealand – Find out about recent earthquakes in New Zealand – The latest on New Zealand weather

Get Ready Get Thru