In its purest form, it’s odorless, nearly colorless and tasteless. It’s in your body, the food you eat and the beverages you drink. You use it to clean yourself, your clothes, your dishes, your car and everything else around you. You can travel on it or jump in it to cool off on hot summer days. Many of the products that you use every day contain it or were manufactured using it. All forms of life need it, and if they don’t get enough of it, they die. Political disputes have centered around it. In some places, it’s treasured and incredibly difficult to get. In others, it’s incredibly easy to get and then squandered. What substance tops the list of necessities for our existence? Water.
Our bodies are about 60 percent water [source: Mayo Clinic]. Water regulates our body temperature, moves nutrients through our cells, keeps our mucous membranes moist and flushes waste from our bodies. Our lungs are 90 percent water, our brains are 70 percent water and our blood is more than 80 percent water. Simply put, we can’t function without it.
When you don’t get enough water, or lose too much water, you become dehydrated. Signs of mild dehydration include confusion, dry mouth, excessive thirst, dizziness, lightheadedness and weakness. If people don’t get fluids at this point, they can experience severe dehydration, which can cause convulsions, rapid breathing, a weak pulse, loose skin and sunken eyes. Ultimately, dehydration can lead to heart failure and death. 
In the United States, water is regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act and distributed by local water treatment companies. They often deliver water and take away sanitary waste through an underground water/sewer system to homes in a community or city. Homes outside the delivery area need to provide their own water source from a well or spring and dispose of waste water into a septic tank. These systems generally rely on electricity to pump and move the water. In the event of an emergency disrupting the electricity, available water will be limited to what you have on hand.
Commercially bottled water for drinking (stored in PETE – food grade plastic containers) can be purchased as long as supplies last. To avoid the panic, storing water in larger containers will allow you to have some available for uses other than just drinking.
Empty Bottles from water, soda, juice, etc., can be used to store extra water. Be sure to wash them carefully with dish soap, sanitize with a bleach solution (one tsp bleach mixed with 1 qt. of water), rinse well and fill with tap water. If you are using municipal water, no bleach is required because it is already chlorinated. Well water should have 2 drops of standard unscented household bleach added per quart. Rotate the water once each year.
Aqua-tainers holding 5-7 gallons are available in camping supply stores. These are made out of blue food grade plastic and come with a spigot for easy access. 7 gallons of water weighs about 56 pounds. The jugs are stackable, so you can store several in a small area.
Larger storage containers for people with extremely limited storage space include the waterBOB. This plastic container fits into your bathtub and holds 100 gallons of water. Using this will give you water storage without having to wonder when was the last time you cleaned the tub.
Water Barrels hold 55 gallons of water. Store these off direct contact with concrete. You will need a drinking water hose, bung wrench and siphon to start the water flow. 
Billie Nicholson, editor