Water, above all else, is the most vital of the emergency essentials. A relatively healthy person can go upwards of 8 weeks without food but that same person, not subjected to weather extremes or above average physical exertion, will last only 3 to 5 days without water.
Most of us grew up with that standard 8 glasses of water each day drummed into our ears but times have changed (and so have medical findings). The Institute of Medicine found the most efficient way to stave off dehydration is to “drink when you’re thirsty”. While this is excellent advice, it does present a problem for those of us preparing for emergencies.
We need specific quantities, numbers to add and multiply together. Thankfully, the IOM also provided recommended amounts. The average person should have a general fluid intake of about 110 ounces (13 cups/3 liters) of water daily, slightly less for women and a little more for men. Keep in mind, while 80% of your intake comes from fluids, 20% comes from foods like fruits and vegetables.