Today is the official start of hurricane season. Over the next few months, the Gulf & Atlantic coasts will likely be hit with some pretty bad storms, and if Tropical Storm Ana was any indication, the East Coast will be battered by strong winds and heavy rain, so this means preparing for the worst. In case of disaster, you need to stock up on supplies, like flashlights, provisions, and, most importantly, water, a substance that is essential to every form of life. But there are several important questions concerning bottled water storage & expiration that need to be answered.
Does water go bad?
The short answer is no. According to the FDA, as long as the unopened commercially bottled water is not damaged and is stored in a safe, secure, and clean place, you should be fine. If the bottled water is stored for many years, the taste and texture may change, but it is safe to consume.
Why does bottled water have an expiration date?
Generally, expiration dates on bottled water are indicators of quality, not safety.
But there’s an interesting history as to why bottled water has an expiration date. In 1987, the State of New Jersey mandated that all food sold there must display an expiration date of two years or less. Although bottled water never really expires, H2O manufacturers included a two-year expiration date on every bottle shipped to the Garden State. However, separately labeling and manufacturing bottled water for just one small state was costly for most water manufacturers, so they began including two-year expiration dates on every bottle of water, regardless of where in the country it was headed. And since bottled water manufacturers typically used the same machines to make bottled water as they did to make soda and other beverages that do expire, the companies found it efficient to include expiration dates on water, even if bottled water doesn’t expire.
How long can I store other kinds of bottled water?
Sealed, unopened flavored water typically lasts for about 9 months, according to Eat by Date. Unopened vitamin water lasts for just as long, while sealed sparkling water lasts a little longer than a year.
What if the water is open and unsealed?
“As soon as you take a sip, your lips and mouth introduce microorganisms into your H2O,” says TIME Magazine. Those microorganisms multiply quickly and cause the water to taste funny after just a few hours at room temperature. In the fridge, regular bottled water lasts about 3 days. As for other types of bottled water: opened coconut water that’s kept in the refrigerator lasts for no longer than 24 hours; unsealed sparkling water lasts just a few hours at room temperature, but in the fridge, it lasts about 2-3 days.
How much water should I store?
The US Government suggests that, for each individual, a gallon of water will last three days. “A normally active person needs about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily, from water and other beverages. However, individual needs vary, depending on age, health, physical condition, activity, diet and climate.” If you live in a very warm climate, more water may be necessary. This also applies to children, nursing mothers, and people who are ill. In the event of an emergency, you should store at least two weeks worth of water. Store a total of at least one gallon per person, per day because you might need it for food preparation or hygiene.
Where should I store the water?
It is recommended that you store the unopened, undamaged, commercially packaged water in a cool, dark, & dry place. According to the National Terror Alert, you should:
- Store drinking water in carefully cleaned, non-corrosive, tightly covered containers.
- Store containers in a cool dark place. DO NOT store in direct sunlight. Polyethylene plastics…are somewhat permeable to hydrocarbon vapors. Keep away from stored gasoline, kerosene, pesticides, or similar substances.
- Rotate your stored water with the water you use on a regular basis. This practice helps insure you don’t have water stored longer than one year.
This article was written purely for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal health advice.
(Sources: Eat by Date, Still Tasty, Time, Smithsonian Mag, Mental Floss, FDA)