The average person can only survive for 3 days without water. That makes water our Number 3 priority following just behind Oxygen and shelter from extreme weather. Right now water seems simple. Turn on the faucet or buy it from your local grocery store in bottles. The questions is how will you get water if the grid goes down and the stores resupply stops?
Stock Pile and Prepare
First you should purchase bulk Water storage devices like water bricks or 55 gallon drums. As you use the water you stocked up on your water collection methods should be replenishing it. Ideally at a 1 to 1 ratio. This way if a drought shows up you will be fine. Keep in mind collected water should be filtered to prevent it from getting you sick. The rule of thumb is an adult needs 1 gallon of water per day. So look at how many days out you want to have on hand times the number of people. You should stock up on water and the needed supplies before something happens to buy yourself time to focus on whatever priorities might come first immediately following a disaster.
Last minute storage of water
If you have warning or or shortly after a disaster happens you should put a stopper in all your sinks, and tub and fill them all with water. Also fill any pitcher or other container you can with water. This will buy you time. A great device is a Water BOB it allows you to fill your bath tube without worrying about cleaning it first. It also gives you a siphon to dispense the water as needed. Even though this water came from the faucet you will want to consider it suspect until you clean it yourself. There is always a chance that contamination got into especially after a disaster.
While not appealing the toilet tank is actually another source of water. That water in the back of the toilet tank is a good source on clean-ish water. I would still purify. The moment an event happens you should conserve flushing and start thinking of alternatives. Use grey water from cleaning dishes or laundry as a means to flush.
Hot Water Heater
Unless you opted for a tank-less unit, your hot water heater is a good source of water. Holding 40-80 gallons on average. If you had to scavenge for water this is also a good place to check in abandoned houses.
If you have the forward thinking to get a well dug it’s a great source of water. However some areas the water table is so low it’s not economical to dig a well. If you know of any wells you should keep a log book of where they are.
Nearby Streams and water sources
Know where the closest standing or running water is. What path can you take to avoid other people. How long of a hike is it. Do you have a hand cart or something to transport the water back safely in.
Remember that your roof acts as a big funnel trapping rain and delivering it down the spout. If you hacksaw the gutters and install a rain barrel along the bottom you can trap that water and make use of any rain fall. Also if you can afford the high visibility, setting up plastic sheets or tarpes as funnels to catch the rain into barrels or containers is a good way to collect rain.
You can use towels to collect the morning dew. Either by running them along grass on your legs in high grass or by hand in low grass. Ringing out the dew into a cup you can then filter it for water.
Even when the pipes run dry there is still water in them. You would have to find a low point on a hill then get underground to where the pipes are. At those low points there should be water trapped that can’t get out since there is no water pressure. Trap into the pipe ideally in a way that doesn’t spill the precious water you can’t take with you.
Trees and plants tend to put off some water, If you use a plastic bag and wrap it around the limb and leaves it will slowly collect the water that comes out of the leaves.
Many plants have water inside them. If you put a hole in them it might start leaking water. If the fluids coming out are milky color or anything other then clear don’t drink it. You should build a list of local plant life that can be used for water in a pinch.
Water is essential but it is also all around you. Get creative and do a little planning before a disaster and you can check water off your list and have one less thing to worry about. Remember to filter water before drinking it especially if it’s standing water. You don’t want to risk getting sick from it.