The list of scenarios is a long one: Extended power outages, martial law, terrorist attacks, chemical spills, to name a few. Your municipal water supply could be cut off.
If you live in an urban environment, you are probably only a few minutes away from a store that has an almost limitless supply of fresh bottled water. You will also have a supply of fresh running water in your home that you can tap into any time you need to.
If the SHTF, then we all know the city is not the best place to be. However, if you find yourself having to stay put for a short time while the chaos dies down, you will need to know where to look for water.
Here are some places and tips to help you to find the water sources you need to survive:
Editor Note: During SHTF scenarios, security will become an issue. Whenever venturing outside your home or complex to gather water, go “in numbers” – never alone. They won’t just take your water, they may take everything you’ve got.
- Try the obvious places first – Places like business buildings may have water coolers that still have drinkable water inside. Stores may have some bottles that other survivors have missed. Rooftops are also a good place to look where rainwater may have collected. I would always try the obvious places first – surviving is going to be hard so any easy wins will be worthwhile.
- Rivers, streams and ponds – if you have any of these near to where you are living, providing you have methods to filter and boil it, you will have a pretty good sized water supply. Always be cautious of any chemicals that may have been put into ponds. Water will help keep you alive, but only if it is clean.
- Toilets – most people would not consider toilet water safe to drink. However water in the tank of the toilet should be fine to drink. I would still probably filter and boil it if I had the means to but in a standard toilet tank you probably have a days’ worth of drinking water.
- The water heating system in your home – These systems can store a large amount of drinkable water. Not only in the actual water tank but also the pipes that deliver it all around your house. If you can get to these pipes (a bit of wall demolition is called for) then you may even have enough water to last the few days you need before you leave the city
- Swimming Pools – In my current job I manage a swimming pool. I have also worked in many pools over the years, so I am well aware of how many chemicals go into the pool water. However there may still be some drinking water to be collected from the pool water system. Firstly, some pools have a “top up tank” this is a tank of fresh water that can be used to top up the water level in the pool if it drops for any reason. These are usually fed from the mains water supply so any water in this tank will be good to drink. There are various sizes of these tanks – the one at my pool would probably provide water for a day or two! The other way pool water may be safe to drink is if it comes from an outdoor pool. The sun may have burnt out all of the chemicals that were in the pool, so as long as you boil and filter this water it will be safe to drink. Caution needs to be taken with pool water – if you are unsure of chemical levels then leave the water alone, or only use it for cleaning purposes, and not consumption.
- Local attractions – places such as zoos, theme parks, etc., are likely to have a huge supply of water somewhere on site. These places should be thoroughly explored providing it is safe to do so. There may be barrels of water stored, hoses with water still left inside and most have stores on site that may have avoided being looted. If you do venture into any of these types of places, make sure you have a clear escape route and be careful you are not putting yourself into danger by going inside.
Most of these water sources will require you to filter and boil the water before drinking. This means that fire starting methods and water filtration equipment must be properly prepared prior to the “you know what” hitting the fan.
The city is not the safest place to be during an emergency, so I am going to assume that if you do decide to stay put you are pretty well equipped to deal with the obvious dangers.
For more information on finding water sources, see “Potable Water: In The Wild” and “Water: After A Power Outage”
For more information on making potable water, see “Commercial Potable Water Solutions”