Water is truly the life blood for all of us. The average adult can only survive for about 3 days without fresh water to drink. In fact, a loss of just 10% of fluid in your body can quickly become fatal. So for anyone who is trying to prepare for a crisis, the ability to stockpile, and store water is a critical component of good emergency plan.
But because Murphy’s Law often rears its ugly head when you least expect it, a smart prepper must also know all of the ways and methods for collecting water in an emergency. There are a wide variety of things that can happen unexpectedly which may leave you stranded without access to running water including:
- Power Outages
- Being Stranded in a Desert Area
- Breakdowns on Roads or Highways
- Plane Crashes
- Car Crashes in Isolated Areas
- Getting Lost in the Woods or Mountains
- Getting Stuck in the Snow
How & Where to Collect Water In An Emergency
If you find yourself in an unexpected crisis situation where you don’t have enough water with you to drink, what can you do? There are a number of ways to collect water in an emergency situation if you know how to do it safely and where to look. We’ve included some of the ways below.
When you find yourself in an emergency scenario where you need to collect water, there are a wide variety of things you can use. Once you collect the water, you will likely need to filter and purify your water prior to drinking or cooking with it.
One of the first ways to collect water is to catch it during a rainfall. If you are at home, you can set up a rainwater catchment system with a screen or filter. You can also plan to access water from nearby fresh water sources such as:
- Pond or Lake
- Creeks, Streams, or Rivers
But what if you don’t have a rainwater catchment setup at home or you are stranded away from home and you need water? How and where can you collect water in an emergency?
In Your Home or At Work
- Pots and pans and other dishes
- An upside down umbrella to catch rain
- Plastic bags
- Toilet Tank
- Hot Water Tank
- Outdoor Hoses
- Washer Hoses
- Water pipes in walls
- Zip lock bags (wrap in bandana when full to help prevent breakage)
- Water coolers
- Vending machines
On The Road
- The plastic case around your car side mirror
- Any plastic container you can find
- A tarp or piece of plastic
- A piece of cloth or a t-shirt
- Condoms from your wallet or glove compartment
In the Wilderness
- Look in Hollows of Trees
- Check under rocks or around rocks
- Large Leaves
- Streams or Rivers
In The Desert
- Eat cactus fruit
- Solar Water Still
- Barrel Cactus Water (last resort)
- Dried Riverbeds (dig a hole)
- Rocky Outcrops
In the City
- Plastic bottles or Cans
- Empty coffee cups
- Office Water Coolers
- Retention Ponds or Pools
- Swimming Pools
- Collect dew from grass or objects with cloth
Stranded At Sea
- Plastic tarp or raincoat to collect rainwater
- Towel or Other material to soak up dew from poles or deck
- Solar Still
In the Snow
- Melted ice or snow from ground or trees (don’t eat frozen)
Containers for Storing and Stockpiling Water
It’s best to avoid storing water in plastic containers with BPA Bisphenol A, as these can break down and leach poisonous chemicals into your water. When it comes to plastic containers, you can get some additional insight on the plastic by looking at the Resin ID Code which can typically be found on the bottom of plastic containers. Toxic plastic containers are #7, #3, and #6. Safer plastics are numbered #1, 2, 4, and #5.
Keep in mind that studies show that 95% of all plastics tested did include estrogenic activity. Plastics with estrogenic activity can cause disruption to hormones in the body which can cause all sorts of issues including low sperm count, infertility, genital deformities, mood disorders, and cancers.
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These are great to have on hand for emergencies when you have advanced warning of a potential power outage. Water Bobs are designed to collect and store water from your bathtub faucet temporarily so you can use it for drinking and other hygiene needs.
These jugs are handy to have on hand because you can quickly fill them with tap water or from a stream, lake, or pond if necessary and have up to 5-gallons of water at a time. If filling from an outside water source or with potentially contaminated tap water, you will still need to purify the water before using it for drinking or cooking.
These are designed so you can carry water with you if you are hiking or otherwise on the move. They are handy for mobile use because they can be worn like a harness and have a tube for drinking which leaves your hands free for other tasks.
Emergency Water Pouches
To stockpile and store water for times when you will be on the move, emergency water pouches are a great option. You can carry several pouches in your get home bag (GHB) or bug out bag (BOB) without the bulkiness of carrying bottled water. Emergency water pouches are packaged so that as long as they are sealed, they are not susceptible to extreme hot or cold. The water in the pouches may freeze but when thawed the water will still be usable.
Collapsible Water Bottle
These are great to carry in your GHB or BOB even if you don’t carry them filled with water. When you are somewhere and need to collect and store water temporarily until you can get it back to camp and boil it, the Playtypus collapsible bottle works well. They are lightweight and unlike a plastic water bottle, the platypus can be collapsed as water level goes down so as to not take up as much space.
Nalgene Water Bottle
Another way to carry water when you are on the go is a Nalgene water bottle. Most come with a wide mouth which makes it easy to fill from a collapsible water jug or even a freshwater source. Nalgene water bottles come in a variety of colors and typically include a loop which can be used to hang the bottle from your belt or pack.
These are great for storing water and are helpful if you are trying to stockpile large quantities of water. They are made of plastic and their shapes are designed so that you can stack several of them together under a bed, coffee table or even in your basement or another storage area.
Canned Emergency Water
For those who want to stockpile water without worrying about leaching that is possible with plastic containers, canned emergency water is a great alternative. Canned emergency water is canned under pressure which extends the shelf life to 25 or 50 years. It’s a great stockpiling method that you can buy and forget about until you need it because it’s not as susceptible to heat and sunlight as water stored in plastic bottles.
Plastic Food Grade Barrels
Available in various sizes, these blue food grade containers block light but also allow wave lengths to penetrate to help reduce algae and bacteria growth over time. These are great for connecting to a rainwater catchment system using a filter or screen to keep out any debris. Water should still be purified by boiling or some other method before drinking.
Other Ways to Stockpile and Store Water
Modified Hot Water Tank
Another way that some preppers have come up with to stockpile and store water is to modify their home hot water tank. If your budget allows, you can replace your small water tank with a larger one so you will have more water available to you if the power goes out. One additional modification you can make is to put your hot water tank up on bricks or some other foundation that is high enough for you to put a jug or container underneath the drain. This makes it easy for you to drain several gallons of water at a time for use during a power outage.
Outside free standing pools and in-ground swimming pools can be one way to stockpile water for an emergency. You can use the pool for swimming but also have it available as stored water during a power outage or another emergency where you are trapped at home. Due to the pool chemicals, you will need to filter and purify water before using for drinking or cooking.
Empty Gatorade or Other Plastic Drink Bottles
For those who are trying to stockpile water on a tight budget, empty gatorade or other sport drink bottles can be cleaned and used to store tap water. Despite popular belief, you can use plastic juice or milk jugs to collect water and even store it if necessary. Any water that you store that hasn’t been pressure packaged can become contaminated and you must boil before use anyhow. So simply clean out milk and juice jugs really well with soap and let dry before filling with tap water.
Tips for How to Stockpile and Store Water
- Store in a cool place away from direct sunlight or extreme hot temperatures.
- Boil or purify water using another method just prior to using.
- Keep in mind that plastic juice and milk jugs may break down quicker than other water storage containers so water in these containers should be used first when possible to avoid leaky containers and loss of water.
- If using a chemical method to purify water, follow instructions about wait times carefully for safety.
- Recommended water stockpile for the average adult is a minimum of 1 gallon daily for drinking. You will need to stockpile more water than recommended for bathing and other hygiene needs and if you have a garden, pets, or livestock.
Do you feel ready to stockpile and store water for the next crisis that may hit your area soon? Which if any of these containers for stockpiling and storing water are you using? Do you have a favorite or foolproof method for collecting water that we forgot to mention above? Share with us in the comments below.
A mother of four and grandmother of nine boys and one girl, Megan is living the lifestyle any prepper would want. Gardening, homesteading and constantly planning for emergencies big and small, she’s a beacon of knowledge in the prepping community.