The single most important thing to stockpile for survival is water. Yet, if you look at most people’s stockpiles, they are woefully short on water. Oh, they’ve got water all right; but when you compare what they’ve got to what they need, it’s clearly not enough.
Most of us have been functioning under the concept that we need one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and cooking. That’s basically true; at least, it’s true in a temperate climate. In a hot climate you can sweat out a gallon a day, so you need to drink more than you would in a cooler climate. But that’s not the issue, the issue is… since when do we only need water for drinking and cooking?
How Much Water Do You Need?
The average American uses a little over 100 gallons of water per day. About half of that is used in taking care of our lawns and gardens. Another 30% or more is used for washing, between washing clothes, dishes and our bodies. The rest is used for things like flushing toilets. By comparison, the amount we actually drink and cook with is a very small proportion.
Granted, a lot of that 100 gallons per day is water that is not used effectively. Automatic washing machines and dishwashers are very inefficient in their use of water. Watering a lawn in a survival situation is a waste of time and water. So, you don’t really need 100 gallons of water per day.
However, you don’t only need one gallon of water per day either. If that’s all you’ve got, then you’re leaving yourself with nothing to use for washing. That means no clean dishes, no clean pots and pans, no clean clothes and no clean bodies. Oh, and you can forget about growing a vegetable garden too, as your plants would require water. You won’t have to worry about surviving for long, as you’ll get sick and die. Cleanliness is an important part of survival.
Looking at it realistically, you’re going to need about five gallons of water per person, per day for drinking, cooking and cleaning. You can use grey water (already used cleaning water) for flushing toilets, eliminating that waste, as well as gardening. But you may need some additional water for your garden, especially if you live in an area where you don’t get a lot of rain.
So, that means a family of four needs 20 gallons or more of water per day, not just four gallons. Fortunately, it doesn’t all have to be purified water, as you can clean clothes and bathe in water that isn’t purified. Now, all you need is to figure out where that water is going to come from.
Where to Find Water
No matter how much water you stockpile, you’re eventually going to run out. When that happens, you’ll need to have places that you can get water from. That means knowing where to look for water and having a plan to get it from there to your home.
Start at Home
One of the first things anyone should do when they realize that the water is going to be shut down is to fill their bathtubs and every container they can find with water. That will give you a little more to work with, before you start having to hunt for water. But your home will have a few places where water might be hidden.
- Pipes – Your pipes may hold a couple of gallons of water. Find the lowest valve, which will probably be the fill valve for a toilet on the ground floor or in the basement and drain the water there. Open faucets in upper floors so that there isn’t a vacuum trapping the water from draining.
- Hot water heater – A hot water heater will hold anywhere from 30 to 60 gallons of clean water. They are built with a drain valve at the bottom, making it easy to capture that water. Be sure it is turned off before draining it.
- Toilet tanks – The back part of the toilet, where it stores the water to flush with will hold about three or four gallons of clean water. Don’t use the water in the bowl though.
- Fish tank – A fish tank will usually have ten gallons of fairly clean water in it.
- Fountains – If you have a fountain in your yard, make sure you get the water out of it.
- Swimming pool – If you have a swimming pool in your backyard for your kids, that’s a great source of water. A ten or twelve foot diameter pool will hold a couple of thousands of gallons of water.
Near Your Home
Once you’ve exhausted all the water sources in your home, you’re going to have to range a bit farther afield. This will be more challenging, as you won’t be the only one seeking to use those water sources. Nevertheless, if you can beat the rush, you can get water for your family.
- Community swimming pool – If a small, backyard swimming pool can hold a couple thousands of gallons, imagine what an Olympic sized pool can hold. The water will be clean, as it’s treated with chlorine.
- Fountains – Any businesses or public buildings that have a fountain will have a fair amount of water for the fountain. While this water will need to be purified, it’s still water.
- Water tanks – Most water tanks have a valve at the base, where water can be drawn for testing the purity. If you can get access to that valve, which may require some bolt cutters, you can probably get water directly from the tank.
- Businesses – Just like your home pipes and hot water heater will have water in them, so will the pipes and hot water heaters of neighborhood businesses. Many of them will probably have been vandalized and looted, but the looters won’t think of checking the water heater.
- Canals – You might have some irrigation canals running through your area and not even realize it. They are usually fairly well hidden, so unless you are looking for them, you won’t see them. Check a map to see if there are any in your area.
Naturally Occurring Water
Besides all of these man-made things that hold water, we can find water in nature. That’s actually the best source, as it renews naturally, ensuring a constant supply of water.
- Lakes and ponds – Even if the water is stagnant, you can take it home and filter it.
- Rivers and streams – This is the absolute best source of water, as it will be constantly flowing, continuing to provide you and your community with water. Always make sure that you purify any water found in nature, as you don’t know if it has been contaminated in some way.
Before the Disaster Hits
You need to be ready to gather water long before any disaster hits. That means identifying all the places nearby your home where you can gather water. Make yourself a map which shows them, along with an estimate of how much water they contain.
You’ll also need some way of transporting that water from where it is to where you are. Don’t depend upon your car for this. If you have it available, that’s great; but if there’s no gasoline, you’re stuck. Come up with some other way you can gather the water and move it to your home; with containers and some sort of a cart to move those containers. It’s a whole lot easier to push or pull the load than it is to carry it.