10 Emergency Water Solutions for When the SHTF
Water. Clean, fresh, drinkable water. Besides air, it’s absolutely the most crucial element for survival.
To many people around the world who have trouble accessing it, water is their most valuable commodity. In fact, fresh, accessible, potable drinking water makes up less than 1% of all the water on the planet. Without it, we’ll literally die in a matter of days. And yet, in the western world, we take it completely for granted.
We waste it, pour it down the drain, leave the taps running, water our lawns with it, and even flush it down our toilets. We rarely think about what life would be like without it because all we need to do is turn on our taps and an infinite amount of it pours out! But what if we went to turn on the taps one day and nothing did come out?
What if we couldn’t flush our toilets or water our gardens? What if we couldn’t bathe or brush our teeth or cook or wash dishes or do laundry or have a drink?
Food security tends to hog the conversation when we talk about prepping. But water is often overlooked despite how vitally important it is.
Yes, canned goods and other provisions are also necessary, but water is THE most essential thing to have on hand. You can live without food for quite a while if need be, but not without water. This is why bottled water is the first thing to fly off shelves when an emergency (or perceived emergency) situation hits.
Related: 15 Emergency Items You Need to Have Packed and Ready to Go
Of course, we need drinking water, but for long-term survival, you may also need to grow, raise and cook your own food, which also requires water. Medical supplies like bandages and antiseptics can be improvised or made from materials on hand. Water cannot. A heat source can be created with found fuel and tools. Water cannot.
It is absolutely necessary to think about emergency water whenever we think about being prepared, otherwise all of the other best laid plans may mean nothing when the proverbial “shit hits the fan.”
The good news is, it doesn’t take much to vastly improve the state of your water security should disaster strike. Honestly, even if we’re just talking about the electricity going out and leaving you without access to well water for a few days (this happened to many people near us over Christmas), you will be so thankful to have a backup emergency water supply on hand.
I’m a little embarrassed to say this, but a few weeks ago our water was shut off for less than 24 hours because they were upgrading the water lines and although we do keep a few bottles of backup drinking water on hand, we didn’t have enough water to flush our toilet. Needless to say, things can get, um, unsanitary pretty quickly without water, and that was a wake-up call for us to get our emergency water in order as fast as possible.
If you’re stumped on where to start, here are 10 steps you can take immediately to ensure you and your family have access to clean, drinkable water in the event of an emergency.
1. Always carry a water bottle with you
It’s a small step, but keeping a bottle of water on you at all times is a great first line of defence should disaster strike unexpectedly, especially if you’re in your car, in the wilderness or just away from home.
While any water bottle will do, if you want to up your security, consider investing in a LifeStraw Go water bottle. These water bottles allow you to not only store water, the Lifestraw filtration system ensures that you are able to safely refill your bottle and filter the water from almost any source.
I bought 3 LifeStraw water bottles to be used in case of emergency. I keep one in my emergency bag in my car, one in the emergency bag in my husband’s truck, and one for everyday use on hikes, etc. It gives me added peace of mind knowing that if I drink all my water, I can refill my bottle with water from just about anywhere and it will be safe to drink.
2. Properly store bottled water in your car
Statistically, you’re more likely to run into an emergency while in your car than when you’re at home or on foot.
Your car might break down. You may get lost, stranded or run out of gas, maybe in a very hot, dry area. Not to mention you might be in your car the moment a major disaster strikes, throwing people into panic mode, creating traffic madness and mayhem in the streets… Wherever you get stuck, you may get stuck there for a while, so always stash some fresh drinking water in your car.
If you’re going on a family road trip, bring at least a litre for each person in your family (including pets) in addition to fresh water bottles and you should be well equipped to handle being stranded for at least a few hours.
Because of changing temperatures and the potential for chemicals in plastic to leach out into the water, you should change up the water in your trunk once every couple months or so. I personally carry a 1.5 litre bottle of water in my car that I rotate regularly, as well as my empty LifeStraw water bottle, which I can use to filter out any water I come across, even if it’s dirty . I talk more about water filters further down.
Related: How to Prepare Your Kids for an Emergency At School
3. Store water in jugs
Storing plenty of water at home is important to ensure your family’s survival for a few days or even weeks. While storing water alone is not enough to provide for you indefinitely or even longterm, it could mean the difference between life and death should something major happen that cuts you off from your usual source.
FEMA recommends that you store at least a gallon of water per person per day and aim to store enough for a two-week supply.
The more the better. Remember, you need water for so much more than drinking, so store as much as you are can. You should use food-grade plastic water bottles or glass bottles to ensure the chemicals in standard use plastic bottles doesn’t leach into your water supply. We use swing top glass bottles and webreuse growlers and other large glass drinking bottles to store our emergency drinking water.
If you’re tight on space, you can get creative and stash your stockpile under the bed, in closets, cupboards or even purchase shelving like we did. Store close to the ground if possible to reduce loss or damage in the event of a natural disaster. Even plastic jugs are more likely to break and spill if they fall from higher shelves.
4. Always make sure your kettle is full
Aside from what you intentionally store, there are other places in your home where you can always keep a little bit of extra water on hand. Your kettle is one of them. I keep mine on my stovetop at all times and it’s almost always full. It’s more convenient for me because when I want to make a cup of tea all I do is turn on the stove, but it’s also an excellent emergency drinking water source.
The average stovetop kettle holds between 6 and 8 cups of water. That’s half a day’s worth of water for one person, and would get you through the day if need be.
5. Always keep ice trays full
Just like keeping your kettle full, it helps to keep your ice cube tray full too. You can also freeze the ice, transfer it to a plastic bag and refill your tray over and over again. I know these things seem insignificant and maybe even laughable, but if and when the shit truly hits the fan, every drop counts.
6. Know how to access water from a hot water tank
There is another source of hidden water in most people’s homes that can provide a substantial amount of emergency water. If you have a hot water tank, you may have access to an additional 50 gallons of fresh water or more! At a gallon per person per day, that’s enough water for a family of five for at least 10 days. Check out this guide to accessing your hot water heater in the event of an emergency.
7. If the SHTF, fill every sink, tub and bucket while you can
If the SHTF and you are lucky enough to get a bit of warning, stock up on as much water as you can right away. And I don’t mean head down to your nearest big box store and fight to the death over the last bottle of Dasani. I mean turn your taps on and fill every sink, tub and bucket you can while you have the chance. Even if the water isn’t clean enough for drinking, it can be used for bathing, cleaning and watering the garden.
8. Invest in rain barrels
If you want to take water storage one giant, practical step further, invest in some rain barrels for your property.
A typical rain barrel holds around 50 gallons of water, but it is possible to purchase barrels that store hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water. While this water isn’t filtered for human consumption, it’s a great, free source of water for watering your garden and your livestock or for cleaning, bathing and flushing the toilet.
You don’t want to waste any of your drinking water on these things, so having lots of rain water stored up helps to relieve some pressure by taking care of everything else.
9. Invest in some form of water purification
I’ve mentioned it already in this post, but I can’t stress enough how much I highly recommend investing in a LifeStraw for every member of your family.
A LifeStraw is a personal water filtration system that filters contaminated drinking water and converts it to safe drinking water. Each personal LifeStraw filters up to 1,000 litres of water safely.
I bought three LifeStraw water bottles a few years ago after hearing about the families that were fleeing from wildfires in Fort MacMurray up in northern Alberta. They hardly had any time to prepare and evacuate, and it made me much more conscious of the fact that emergencies can strike without warning at any time.
I chose to invest in the water bottles rather than just the filter because you can collect water in the bottle and take it to go rather than having to drink straight from the source. This way you can filter and store fresh drinking water while on the go.
Whether you’re bugging out, bugging in, hiking, camping, boating or travelling, having a LifeStraw with you offers some major security. Plus, through their Follow the Liters program, for every LifeStraw product sold, a child in a developing country receives clean, safe drinking water for an entire school year!
10. Buy property that comes with its own freshwater source
My final tip for ultimate water security is definitely the ultimate longterm solution: Invest in property that has its own freshwater source already on it.
Having access to a supply of fresh water off grid is a massive step toward water security. If you can, consider buying property with a personal well or a freshwater stream that runs through it. Although one potential risk is that your water supply might run dry in the hottest months when you need it most, if you are taking the other steps I’ve already mentioned to store enough water, you can plan to have enough to get you through the drought season by storing water in the wetter months.
Sleep Soundly Knowing You’ve Got Your Emergency Water Supply Covered
There you have it: 10 simple steps you can take to ensure water security for you and your family. The majority of them cost little to no money and can be done with supplies you already have on hand. Pick and choose which steps work for you in your situation.
And remember, you CAN and SHOULD take steps to ensure your family’s water security whether you live on 10 country acres or in a tiny downtown apartment. Start wherever you are. Don’t wait. Take steps now. You never know what tomorrow may bring, but you can prepare now for whatever may come.
Got any other emergency water solutions or tips? Share your knowledge in the comments section below!
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Congratulations on your pregnancy! Speaking of investments, your children are your best investments for the future!
And by the way, people have been using that tired, discouraging line for decades to bring down those having another child… I heard it back in the ’80’s and ’90’s. But now, I have eight intelligent offspring in my very own “friend group,” and the detractors…..don’t!
God Bless and keep on keepin’ on!
Thanks Anna for the helpful information about water storage.