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How to safely store fuel in case SHTF

A generator without fuel is as useful as a gun without ammunition. No matter how we look at any survival situation, the reliance on gas-powered equipment — be it our bug-out vehicle or our generator when the lights go out — is immense.

The type of fuel you chose to store will vary depending on where you live, the intended use for the fuel, and how long your fuel supply needs to last. Take time to review the fuels listed below to determine which will best meet your needs and take care of your family in an emergency. 

In the event of such a major power outage, like those that result from a hurricane, gas stations become overcrowded and may run out of available gas rather quickly. You can always use a gas availability tracker, if you have cell service, after an event to see which gas stations still have availability.

Having a stockpile of fuel can give you power and peace of mind, and you won’t have to fight panicked crowds for the last few tanks available.

Proper containers

We have probably all seen the videos of people using milk jugs, shopping bags and trash cans as containers to put gasoline. And we have all seen the disastrous results from disintegrating ‘containers’ to fires.

The first step is checking your local and state regulations for fuel storage quantity and container capacity allowances. Many fire codes limit the amount of fuel you can store to 25 gallons total, divided among approved, leak-proof containers with a capacity less than five gallons each. These containers should be labeled and of an identifying color (red is the standard for gasoline, while blue indicates kerosene and yellow represents diesel).

The best containers for handling gasoline are Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) approved safety cans. Safety cans are available in several sizes and have various mechanisms for opening the valve to pour the liquids. Funnel spouts can be added to make pouring easier and reduce spills. Although the cost is somewhat more than the cheap cans at the hardware store, they are much safer and will outlast several of the others.

Note: “Poly” drums (the type for water storage) are made of high-density plastic, and should not be used to store fuel. Over time the fuel will react with the plastic and gradually deteriorate the drum interior.


When considering storing fuels it is best to consider which fuels you will use the most given your situation and lean to the longest shelf life. So the question to ask yourself is “which fuel has the longest shelf life and will meet my needs”? For example:

Fuel options to power an emergency generator may include:

  1. Gasoline – shelf life less than one year
  2. Diesel – shelf life 18-24 months
  3. Propane – indefinite shelf life
  4. Solar – indefinite and renewable

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