Drinking Old Water Is Riskier Than You Think

When preparing for severe weather, one of the first items to fly off the grocery store shelves is bottled water. Many people store water in the event of an emergency such as a power outage or a drought. Water is essential to our survival, so in the event of a natural disaster, you don't want to find yourself without it. Though it's hard to imagine water "going bad", if it's been stored away for long periods of time, or even left out on the counter for a day or two, there is the potential risk of bacteria exposure (via Time Magazine).

If left sitting out in an open container, the chances increase of unwanted particles from your surrounding environment finding their way into your water such as dust or dirt (via Smithsonian Magazine). External factors aside, when we drink a glass of water, we transfer the natural bacteria in our saliva from our mouths to the water. If left sitting out, that bacteria can accumulate.

Old water may contain bacteria from our saliva

Consider also that natural elements from our skin such as oil, sweat, or dead skin cells can also be introduced into the water once we touch our lips to the glass (via Reader's Digest). If we don't regularly wash out our used glass, we run the risk of reintroducing this mix of bacteria back into our bodies. The same holds true for those who prefer bottled water. Primary care specialist, Marc Leavey, M.D., told Reader's Digest that, "Once you have put your lips to the bottle, you should consume that bottle in one sitting and then discard it."

So by discarding plastic water bottles upon completion (or more preferably, recycling them), and by regularly washing used glasses, we reduce the risks of getting sick. But what about large storage containers of water? If you have water jugs at home for safekeeping, you may be surprised to find that water can only remain fresh for so long. In an interview with Time Magazine, engineer scientist, Zane Satterfield, advises exchanging your old jug for a fresh one after about a year. Overall, you want to avoid reusing the same containers repeatedly. Whether it's a cup or a bottle, keeping our water clean is the best way to safeguard our health and keep our water tasting fresh.