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Get Prepped: Water

Get the Basics on Water Storage, Resupply, and Purification

Water stores

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Of all the resources that a prepper has to be concerned about in the event of a disruption of civilization, Practical Preppers consultant Scott Hunt says that water is the most critical need. “You can’t last very long without it,” Hunt explains. “Just how long may be affected by the temperature and how much you’re losing because of exertion, but on average, three days is about the limit. There have been extreme cases—people who’ve been pulled out after being buried alive in mine disasters, for example—who’ve lasted longer, but it’s not something you want to test.”

How much water does a person need? To stay in good health and be able to function normally, Hunt says that a person should plan to have at least a gallon of drinking water each day, plus another four gallons for personal hygiene.  And most of that must be potable—that is, sufficiently free of dangerous microorganisms and contaminants that would be safe to drink. “You can use gray—that is, recycled, non-potable water—for toilets, but you want any water that is going to touch the body, for showers or washing your hands, to be potable.” People accustomed to living in an over-sanitized American culture, he says, quickly become ill when exposed to water with high levels of bacteria. “Lake water, for example—my dogs, cows and chickens could drink it and not get sick, but my family couldn’t drink that water,” Hunt says. And it’s not just a matter of feeling terrible. Water-borne microbes that cause dysentery and dehydration can prove fatal, and the usual treatment—oral or intravenous re-hydration solutions that replace lost salt, glucose and minerals, plus antibiotics—may not be available if hospitals are shut down by a crisis.

Additionally, preppers who grow their own food and/or raise farm animals may need 10 or 20 times the amount required for personal use. “If you go eight days without water, your vegetables, beans and lettuce are all going to be endangered,” says Hunt, who himself grows much of his own food.

That’s why Hunt recommends a multi-pronged approach to ensure that preppers have a reliable water supply, in case water treatment plants are driven offline and the spigots in our sinks go dry. “95 percent of our present water supply is dependent upon electricity, chemicals and/or transportation,” he says. “So if those vanish, so does water.”

Water Storage: The easiest way to guard against a sudden shortage of water is to keep an ample reserve supply. Hunt recommends that preppers put at least one 55-gallon drum or tank in a basement or another secure location, fill it with tap water, and change out the water every three months to keep it fresh and contamination-free. “Storage is the easiest part of the solution, and it’s easy for anybody to do, whether you live in downtown Manhattan or Idaho,” he says. Depending upon the number of people in the household and the availability of storage space, preppers may want to up that 55-gallon emergency supply. In the event of an extended disaster, stored water won’t last that long, but it will give preppers a chance to get their re-supply and purification plans going.

Water Resupply: No matter how much water you’ve stored, it’s going to run low eventually, and you’re going to need more. So now is the time to think carefully about where you would get water that you can purify in the event of a disaster. Distance is a crucial factor. A lake or river that’s a mile away may seem close, for a disaster survivor relying on muscle power to haul it, that’s too far, and the security risks may make the route unsafe. Hunt advises having multiple sources, if possible—rain barrels and a catchment system for your roof, a well, a spring, stream or other body of water that’s within easy walking distance from your house. It’s critical to figure out how much water you can expect from a source, and to make contingency plans if you have a shortfall. “Know the average precipitation in your area,” Hunt recommends. “I had a guy in Pakistan contact me, and he gets eight inches of rain a year, which is horrible. So relying on rain barrels for him is not a good option.”

Purification Methods: Most likely, preppers will have to treat the water from their resupply sources to render it potable. Fortunately, Hunt says there are multiple technologies available that can reliably produce clean water, from chemicals and filters to ultraviolet light. One of Hunt’s favorites is the basic ceramic gravity filter. “You just dump the water in the top, and it filters down,” explains. “The bacteria can’t get through the top. And there’s no power required.” He recommends testing the water source in advance to determine what sort of microorganisms or contaminants it might contain, so that a prepper can have the right filters to deal with each problem.



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15 comments
JAMES MAGNUM
JAMES MAGNUM

STAYING WARM IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS WATER...IF YOUR BODY TEMP. DROPS TO 94 DEGREES , YOU ARE IN MUSH TROUBLE...1. WATER 2. WARMTH 3. FOOD ....4. PROTECTION ,FROM THE ELEMENTS , AND FROM THOSE WHO WOULD HARM YOU...

Mike Holzemer
Mike Holzemer

I'm currently using a portable water purification bottle. The filter has a forever shelf life and it removes protozoa, parasites, bacteria, chemicals, even radio active materials.... in short it will purify water from any water source in the world. minus salt water.

Dora Amor
Dora Amor

I really need to start storing water!

Cheetah Carey
Cheetah Carey

The closest body of water near my house is a creek. Is that a good water supply?

David Farris
David Farris

love to make fun of the people on the show they are the most arrogant people i have ever seen.  not to mention ignorant , storing up water not knowing that it gets undrinkable. the ones that are worried about a govt takeover stocking up on full auto weapons(you have to have special permits to own one so in case of a govt takeover who do think they come to first) and these people think that one or two of them can take on and defeat an entire military unit. 

Gregory Faith
Gregory Faith

I live by a slow flowing river. I've been reusing the soda bottles and filling them from the hot water side of the kitchen faucet. The hot water helps with two things. The water is hot, so very little possibility of germs and the cooling causes the bottle cap to have a very tight seal so none leak. Filled about sixty so far. Stocking up on water purification tablets and water filters. We own a reverse osmosis system but it has to have the membranes replaced on a regular basis. It rains and snows here so I'm not too concerned with water until a radioactive contamination occurs. Then my supply is good for awhile. Need to find a way to decontaminate radioactive water well away from the living space. More research in the works.

Michelle Isasi
Michelle Isasi

My 10 year old son and I built a water purification system as a science project.  It was surprisingly easy to do!

Robert Plowman
Robert Plowman

forgot to mention built a water filter with buckets, sand , pea stone, and charcoal to filter, works great

Robert Plowman
Robert Plowman

I have an 20x40 inground pool, have boiled water from it as well as added a couple of drops of bleach per gallon, tasted fine, no after effects, but also have stored 100 2 liter soda bottles filled with tap water, have bought a solar bladder that holds 5 gallons, Just 3 of us in house, we should be fine for at least 3 yrs, problem will be people trying to take some of the water.

Lisa Wade
Lisa Wade

Wow! Clean water a must have!

trevor oehler
trevor oehler

when it comes to water does it mater where u store it.

Dora Amor
Dora Amor

@David Farris it is quite silly of them to think that they will be able to defeat the government, because the government is too powerful to defeat, but at least doomsday preppers will be preppered for other things, such as a disaster, people that dont prep will be affected by the disaster very much compaired to preppers.

marisa b
marisa b

@Michelle Isasi Hi, I saw your post.  Can you tell me what you did for your project and was it expensive?   Email me please - fotonut73@aol.com

Alexander C. Fillmon
Alexander C. Fillmon

@trevor oehler Generally no, as long as it's in a clean sealed container. Make sure that whatever you do store your water in hasn't been exposed to harsh chemicals such as a bleach bottle or a gas can. You can store it in your basement or in your attic, or under the kitchen sink. Just remember to keep it sealed tightly.