In any survival situation, the priorities are the same: water, food, shelter, in that order. Water must be procured before anything else, as the human body can only go a few days without water before it begins to shut down. But survivalists can’t just walk up to any stream or spring and take a swig, as less than 1% of available freshwater is drinkable. Thankfully, there are plenty of alternative ways to find water and achieve hydration to turning on a tap. While water from natural sources is rarely safe to drink, the doomsday scenario affects this even more. Natural disasters, for example, can affect natural sources in different ways than man-made scenarios. Consider these techniques and scenarios for alternative ways to source water.
Forage The Land
Many survival situations could leave your home source undrinkable, whether it be from debris or chemical contamination. Water pipes can be ruptured, frozen, or otherwise taken out of use, wells can be contaminated, and groundwater can easily become polluted. This means that, depending on how much drinking water you’ve stocked, you’ll be needing to find another source ASAP.
Foraging for food can be easy enough for the trained survivalist. Knowing what you’re looking for will help you to find its perfect growing conditions, such as knowing to search for mushrooms in damper, wetter areas. But the same can’t necessarily be said for water. Unlike plants and animals, streams don’t grow or move around, and they certainly don’t leave tracks.
Follow The Forest
Animals and plants are key in finding that source. Tracking animals can often lead one to their water hole or at least somewhere not far from it. Many plants will grow towards rivers, streams, and lakes as well, due to the hydration carried on the wind. This is especially true for mosses, lichens, and fungi that may not require much water. As a general rule, always treat and decontaminate any source of water you’ve found, no matter how clean or clear it appears.
Filter Your Own
In the wake of hurricanes, tornadoes, and other such disasters, the loss of power, water, and communication is something that absolutely must be prepared for. In the frenzy to prepare, stores will often sell out of water before the storm hits. While the best preppers know to stock water for a survival scenario first, that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have enough, so always prepare for a way to get more. Reliable high-volume filtration is a must if your water pipes are still flowing for drinking water, but cover as many bases as you can.
How To Collect
Setting up barrels to collect rainwater is one step, but unless you decontaminate it, you only should be using rainwater to water crops. To be fair, pure rainwater is completely safe, but once you’ve collected it in a barrel, it becomes vulnerable to bug spawning, plant growth, dirt, and a massive variety of other contaminants. Until you’ve decontaminated it, it’s highly dangerous to use it for drinking, bathing, or laundry.
Create your own filter system to run the collected water through, such as a natural sand or charcoal filter. Flowing it into a sealed off collector will help to keep it safe from contamination. This will stop most debris, but be wary of where you’re collecting rainwater from. Putting a barrel under the corner of your roof might collect more water than out in your yard, but it’ll also carry all the dirt, germs, and bugs that are walking around on your shingle. You may want to boil it just to be absolutely safe, as nothing will throw a wrench in your survival plan like a waterborne illness or parasite.
Ensuring clean water should be the first step of any survival effort, no matter what doomsday scenario has come to light. If you’ve set up in one area, scout the surroundings so that you know natural sources of water. Install filtration systems now, rather than trying to cobble them together or install them once you’ve lost utilities. In any good preparation plan, you should always be looking ahead.
Written by Jennifer Dooley