We may face a natural disaster that contaminates our water source at home in suburbia, find ourselves stuck in our city apartments due to a national crisis with the water turned off, or become stranded in the wilderness with little to no water.
No matter the circumstance or the place, you will need clean water to survive. Even in the most extreme disasters, water has proven life-giving.
In 2013, a woman was pulled from the rubble a full 16 days after a factory collapse in Bangladesh. How did she survive? She shared, “The last two days I had nothing but water. I used to drink only a limited quantity of water to save it. I had some bottles of water around me.”
In 2010, a man trapped in the rubble of the earthquake in Haiti survived 14 days by rationing water from a nearby 2-gallon jug.
These are amazing stories of survival as a result of access to water.
Even though water saved these people’s lives, it is important to understand that the amount of water someone needs before they die due to dehydration varies significantly. For instance, these individuals were not trapped in direct sunlight and exposed to lengthy periods of heat.
Dr. Randall Parker explains in Scientific American, “Under the most extreme conditions, death can come rather quickly. For example, a child left in a hot car or an athlete exercising hard in hot weather can dehydrate, overheat and die in a period of a few hours. An adult in comfortable surroundings, in contrast, can survive for a week or more with no, or very limited, water intake.”
In a survival situation, you won’t be in comfortable surroundings. You may not have your hiking hydration pack or a bottle of water. Or, the water in your home may be turned off or unsafe. When this happens, you’ll need to find water in your surroundings as soon as possible.
Here are 13 places to start looking for water (in no particular order).
One of the best and safest sources of water is rainfall. If you find yourself in a situation where water is lacking, be on the lookout for rain clouds. When you see them, use whatever you have to collect the rainwater (buckets, cups, tarps, or even rain jackets).
#2 Water Heater Tank
A home’s tap water heater tank is an unusual hidden water source. Depending on the size, the water heater tank may have several gallons of water to use for emergencies. To get to the water in the tank, you will need to use the drain spout and have a storage container ready to collect it.
Ice inside your freezer can be melted and used as freshwater.
#4 Toilet Tank
It sounds gross, but you can use the water in your toilet tank (not the bowl) in the event of an emergency. However, if you use chemicals that change the color of the water (i.e., toilet tablets), the water is not safe to drink.
#5 Pipes inside of Home
You can also drain water from the pipes in a home. Start by opening a faucet on the top floor, allowing air into the pipes. Then open a faucet on the bottom floor and drain the water from this faucet into a storage container.
#6 Pools and Spas
Pools and spas are chemically treated, so they are unsafe for drinking. However, this water can be used for cleaning and personal hygiene.
#7 Natural Water Runoffs
Even if you miss the moment to capture the rainfall, you can continue to look for rainwater runoff. Pay attention to birds and insects, and they will lead you to runoff. In addition to rainwater, you can look for snow or ice runoff depending on the location and weather.
#8 Morning Dew
When you walk outside in the morning, you often come back in with damp ankles and legs. That’s from the morning dew. Keep this in mind when you need water. Find a way to absorb this dew, such as tying cloth around your ankles and legs and walking in high grass. Then, wring the cloth out for water.
#9 Plant Transpiration
Another unique process for collecting water is called transpiration. How Stuff Works explains, “All you really need is a clear plastic bag, and you can use the transpiration technique to collect potable water:
- In the morning, take a bag and tie it around a leafy green tree branch or shrub.
- Weight the inside with a rock to create a low point for the water to collect.
Over the course of the day, the plant will transpire and produce moisture that will collect at the low point.”
#10 Water-Rich Foods
Look for water-rich foods, such as coconuts and cucumbers, to supplement water. Water-rich foods have water content in their juice. Unlike coconut, where the liquid is readily available, other types of water-rich food, such as cucumbers, will need to be smashed into a pulp in order to collect the liquid. While it won’t be a significant amount, it will be enough to sustain you for the moment.
#11 Underground Water
If you come across a muddy area, start digging. Often, this is a sign that groundwater is available. Dig a hole and wait and see if it fills with water. Since it is muddy groundwater, you will need to strain it and purify it.
#12 Natural Bodies of Water
Rivers, lakes, and streams are good sources of water, as long as you use a water filtration tool to remove any pathogens. If you are lost in the wilderness, look for animal tracks and lush vegetation. These are generally signs that a body of water is nearby.
Condensation occurs when humid air comes in contact with a cold surface. Out in the wild, condensation can take place on metal in the early morning hours as the temperatures change. However, you must collect this condensation before the sun rises and it evaporates.
How to Prepare in Advance
There are some moments when you know a threat to your water source is coming, such as a hurricane or flood. In these times, it is important to prioritize water preparedness. As soon as you receive the weather warning, start taking steps to collect enough clean water from home water sources to help your family drink and clean for several days.
Here are some ways to find and collect way in advance.
- Fill your bathtub.
- Fill up pots and pitchers.
- Fill large Tupperware or storage containers.
- Fill and freeze multiple ice cube trays.
- Turn off the main water valve to prevent contamination.
Find Water and Then Purify It
It is extremely important to understand that just because you know where to find water doesn’t mean you should start drinking it. Most of the hidden water sources on this list will require you to purify the water before drinking it. If you don’t, you risk dying from a water-borne illness.
According to Rady’s Children’s Hospital, “Every 21 seconds, a child dies from a water-related illness. More than 3.4 million people die each year from water-related illness.” Don’t go through the effort of finding water only to put yourself at risk of water-related illness.
[Related Read: Survival Depends on Clean Water: How to Purify It]
Fortunately, there are different tools available that make it possible to purify water in the harshest conditions. My Patriot Supply offers several different water filtration devices depending on your needs. We offer Alexapure Water Filtration Systems in a variety of sizes (complete home systems, pitchers, and personal water bottles). We also offer the amazing Survival Spring Personal Water Filter by Alexapure, which is a pocket-sized water filter with the power to remove up to 99% of waterborne protozoa and bacteria, allowing you to drink directly from a variety of water sources.
Practice water preparedness, friends.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply