- Rain – You should never overlook this option, especially if you are located in an area where it rains frequently (e.g., the Pacific Northwest) at least part of the year. You should be putting as many collection containers and/or have a cistern available to collect rain as possible. If you have access to the downspouts from your roof – attaching a cistern (large water storage device) directly to the downspout will provide you with many more gallons of rain water then just sticking out containers to catch the rain directly. Why? Simple, you are utilizing a greater surface area (the roof) to gather the water then the surface areas of the containers themselves. I recommend filtering and treating any water source regardless of how “clean” it appears as impurities like pollution might have contaminated the water. Rain falling, will absorb various chemical pollutants in the air as it makes its way to your collection containers – not to mention whatever else might contaminate the water as it runs down your roof and into a downspout before getting into your cistern. Since rain (or snow or ice) is not always available, it’s a good idea to collect more than you think you might need, as well as, have additional and alternative sources of water – just in case.
- Melting Snow and Ice – If you live in an area where snow and ice is plentiful (at least part of the year) you must add this to your water collection options. One thing to never forget is that filling a container full of snow will not yield the same amount of water. Why? Snow has a lot of air mixed into it and once melted you might notice that you only get about 1/10th as much water as you had of snow. Ice on the other hand is frozen water and while there isn’t a problem with air (like snow) it has expanded when it entered its solid stage. Once ice has melted back into its liquid state (water) it will fill more of the original container then when it was a solid (ice). Just like with rain, you will still need to filter and treat the water you get from either snow or ice to be on the safe side.
- Lakes, ponds, streams and rivers – I hope you’re not thinking that these are not applicable in an urban setting are you? Many urban planners have designed a city or town around bodies of water or streams and rivers. Depending on how used these sources of water are (boats, industry, etc…) will determine how useful they are for survival. Let’s assume that all these sources of water are at least moderately used and polluted at best and really polluted at worst. If there is only little to moderate use/pollution of the water source then traditional filtering and treatment methods should be sufficient to provide you with a potable water supply. On the other hand if there is heavy use/pollution you have three choices which come down to your level of acceptable risk. (1) Forget this source of water and find another. (2) Filter and Treat this water source like you would any other and take a risk that you did a good enough job so you won’t get sick or die. (3) Use another method to make this water safe to drink – like distilling it.
- Wells – Okay, so you are not likely to find a well in an urban setting. However, there is a good chance that you will find existing wells in the suburbs or countryside. In the wilderness, you might be able to create your own well should you have the right tools (at least a shovel) and a lot of luck (the water is not too far down below the surface). I always like to err on the side of caution and would still filter and treat well water. No sense taking chances – right?
- Salt / Brackish water (Sea or Ocean) – Assuming that you are located in a area that has an Ocean or Sea close by (and No other freshwater source available) then using saltwater might be your only option. The ONLY 2 ways this water becomes safe to drink is through filtering, desalination and treatment OR through distillation (effectively doing the other process in a one step process). I will be talking about distillation in my next BLOG posting about water.
- Swimming Pools – Okay, not the place most people might think of for a source of water. However, by using the same process to make saltwater safe to drink you can also make pool water safe to drink – specifically distillation.
- Various plants, trees, grass and cacti – You might be able to obtain enough water from vegetation to sustain you. I am not going to go into any detail here as there are too many types of vegetation to cover (both to use and to AVOID). I recommend picking up a couple of books that cover the common vegetation in your area to see if this is even a viable option for you to use for your survival.
Survival is a combination of preparedness plus a survival mindset. If you have the WILL to survive, the skills/knowledge to survive, as well as, some planning and preparation ▬ then you will ultimately survive. Don't wait until it is too late or your chances for survival will diminish accordingly. As always, good luck and know I am on your side. ~~ The Survival Guy