Water is the lifeblood of our bodies, our economy, our nation and our well-being.     

Stephen Johnson


This is the Ultimate Prepper Survival Guide: Emergency Water Guide For When Disaster Strikes. After reading this guide, you’ll know how to harvest, find and store fresh water to drink in the aftermath of a disaster. 

Imagine, you heard at the last moments notice about a hurricane that’s racing towards your town like a snarling bulldog. You rush to the store to stock up on water.

You don’t know exactly how much to get so you’re imagining filling the carriage up with gallons of water and saying “that will be enough”.

You get to the store, get a carriage with a broken wheel that’s out of alignment and makes that “nails on a chalkboard type sound as you get to the water aisle.

It’s empty.

All the water is gone.

Have you noticed that the first resource to become scarce in a disaster scenario is water?

Water is the main ingredient that we rush to stock up on because we know how important it is and how much we need.

We take water for granted because most of is can walk a few feet and turn a nob to the right and like magic. An endless supply of water is granted to us.

But what about when the grid goes down? You turn the knob and…

Nothing comes out. 

Now that’s why it’s a good idea to learn how to collect, store, and purify water so you’ll always have it no matter what.

Even if the Zombie Apocalypse comes, I’ll have plenty of water to survive, will you?

During a crisis.  The seemingly overabundant supply of water can quickly dry up leaving you with 70% of the earth’s surface of water that you can’t drink…

The access points that are instantaneous for us today at any time can become nonexistent in any of a dozen different disasters. 

The Importance of Water Purification

The Essence of Life: Water. Man’s most vital resource for Survival.

Air and water are the two most important and time-sensitive resources that we need for survival. 

But we have to work and plan ahead for one of them. The other one we get for free. And have an endless amount of supply of it all around us. Unless your underwater. 

Arguably. The most important preparedness measure you can take is to stock a supply of fresh water and have means of water purification. 

You could prepare for every possible disaster and emergency in existence including a zombie apocalypse. But if you don’t have water to drink. Its all for nothing. 

But if you have water. You’ll at least know you’ll survive another three days at the least.

Water Preparation Plan

Do you already have an established plan for your water supply during and after a crisis? 

Our plan here is for you to get a well-hydrated plan if you need one. Having access to potable water (water that’s drinkable) is crucial at all times.

There are 5 stages to our water preparation plan. Each stage is just as important as the one before or after it.

  1. Acquire Knowledge and skills
  2. Harvest
  3. Store
  4. Purify
  5. Conserve

You really need all 5 stages. 

During a crisis, you don’t want to put all of your hope and lives into hoping that you stored enough water and that you won’t run out. That’s a bad plan.

If you run out of water supply. You’ll need to locate fresh water sources and any water source. And you’ll need to be able to purify it so that it hydrated you instead of the opposite.

Short-Term and Long-Term Plans

It’s common to make the short term and long term water plan the same. But both are needed. 


They each serve different purposes. They are needed at different periods of time throughout the crisis. 

We can live for a matter of days without it. So short and long term plans are necessary. 

For short term. The more portable the container is. The more ideal it becomes for this phase.

The more methods and means of purifying the water you have. The better. The more prepared you’ll be. 

If the water is questionable. Best to read n a cycle of UV light in it with a UV pen purifier. It’s the quickest and surest way to make sure your drinking potable water.

Water Wisdom 

Next, we want to acquire knowledge about water. The more we know, the better we can prepare just like any other category.

It’s important to learn about water-related emergencies and how to prevent them. About dehydration. Different water toxins and how to get rid of them. There is an ocean of information to know about water. 

Let’s start with potential illnesses related to water.

Water-Related Ailments and Illnesses

Water-related illnesses are one of the most overlooked scenarios when it comes to putting together your water survival plan. Which is why we’re covering it first. Before going over the water survival kit and harvesting rainwater…

Illnesses related to water also the number one cause of death from waterborne illness and dehydration. 

The aftermath of a disaster and drinking non-drinkable water brings upon water illness that’s deadly. 

Back to the importance of water storage and harvesting and conservation. Making sure you stocked enough water for yourself and everyone else in your household.


Dehydration medical emergencies are unfortunately common during disaster situations. 

Mayo Clinic has a detailed guide on dehydration here.

According to them, the symptoms of the early phases of dehydration are: 

  • Extreme thirst
  • Less frequent urination
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

At this point. It’s crucial that you get water quickly or you’ll be in an actual medical life-threatening emergency shortly. 

If after you start experiencing these symptoms and you’re not able to replenish your body with water and electrolytes, medical attention would be needed as soon as possible.

In more severe dehydration, you could experience going from extreme thirst to not being thirsty at all.

Health Effects Related To Dehydration

If you’re becoming dehydrated, you become more prone and vulnerable to additional health problems, such as:

  • Heat cramps
  • Heat stroke
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Seizures
  • Brain swelling
  • Kidney failure

Toxins in Municipal Water

Having clean and safe drinkable water has become increasingly more difficult over time. And it will only get worse.

Now, we can dive into water survival skills and information gathering.

Water Rules

Before we start with the good stuff. There are rules to follow… think of it like recess in the 5th grade.

In the survival-minded person, there are many rules we want to be aware of and follow.

There are just two main rules to know and follow when it comes to safe drinking water.


  • The Water Rules

For the water category, the rule of threes states that you can survive for up to three days without water.

The Water Rule of Threes is three questions that you want to ask yourself before drinking any water from a water source that you found.

The questions are:

  • Does it look clear?
  • Does it smell strange?
  • Then taste a SMALL amount, does it taste normal?

If the answer to any of these questions leaves even a small doubt in your mind, filter the water before drinking.

When it comes to making sure the water we drink is safe before we drink it. We want to be extra safe.

Skills and Tips

Here are a few water survival skills and tips to stay hydrated.

Wrap your water bottle or container in duct tape a few times. It adds a nice thick and tough layer of protection to it.

NOTE: Always have duct tape with you in general. It’s one of those survival resources that had hundreds of different uses.

Here are some skills that will make you a water wizard.

  • How to handle and work with purification chemicals.
  • Learn your waters
  • Distill Water
  • Get Clear
  • Pool Resources
  • Harvest Rainwater
  • Use a tarp to craft a makeshift rain catch to use to harvest large volumes of rainwater
  • How To Calculate Water Requirements
  • How To Carry Water With You
  • How To Remove Bacteria

We’ll be covering each skill in another guide soon.

DIY Survival: Emergency Water DIY Projects

Make a Transpiration Bag


Dig Your Own Well


Make a gypsy well


Build a solar still


Turn your gutter into a rain catch. 


DIY Water Filter


5 Tips To Stay Hydrated

Here are 10 tips for staying hydrated during a crisis.


Water Gear and Supplies

There are a few items that are essential for your water gear.

  • Hand pump filter system
  • integrated bottle filters
  • straw filters
  • Chemical treatment
  • Make Your Own DIY Water Filter


Water Survival Kit 

Next, putting together a water survival kit is ideal. That way you have a kit that has everything you need. It’s organized and prepped ahead of time.

Here’s what your water survival kit should consist of at the minimum:

  • Survival Water filter Straw for easy water filtration in the wilderness
  • Germicidal tablets to purify water with.
  • Iodine tablets to purify water with if you prefer iodine.
  • A water bottle that has a built-in water filtration system.
  • Bandana or shemagh to use as a water filter to at least filter out the larger particles and debris.
  • Tarp


DIY Water Filter

If you don’t have a water filter like a survival straw or a hand operating filtration system, you can always make a DIY water filter.

This video shows you how to easily make one.

Harvesting and Collecting

  • Tarps and Ponchos
  • Gravity
  • Plant Exhalation
  • Solar Still
  • The Sun


How To Harvest Water

Tarps and Ponchos


Plant Exhalation

Solar Still

The Sun


Fresh Water Sources


Here’s the full guide on how to find fresh water sources.

Locate Emergency Sources Of Water

Urban sources.


Rainwater is one of the best sources of water.

Rainwater is the best resource for harvesting water to store. It’s as natural as it gets. 

Its an abundant source of clean potable water. But collecting it can be rather.. slippery.

How To Harvest Rainwater

There are many methods to collect it.

Collect rainwater automatically while you walk. 

Morning dew can be absorbed as you walk.

Here’s what you do.

  1. Wrap your feet with a shemagh


How to collect rainwater at scale

If you’re going to collect a lot for a longer period of bugging in. We need larger boats. 

Turn your gutter into a rain catch. 

If you need a more portable method to collect larger volumes of water. 5-gallon buckets or drums. containers are the best option. 


Note: Even though its rainwater and natural. Be sure to still process the water before drinking it.

Why do you have to process rainwater?



Before drinking any water that you’ve harvested, testing it is always a good idea.

What to Test For

When to test

  • Arsenic
  • Lead
  • Fluoride


Another aspect of water you want to double check before drinking.

The color.

Look at it carefully. What color is it? The possible colors are: Red brownish color. An indication of iron or magnesium. The color will stain your clothes and even sink.

Water Storage

After locating a water source, we need to properly contain it. There are a few options for water containers depending on what you specifically are doing and what you need.

If you’re packing a BOB, then you need 72-hours of water supply. As we said above, it’s recommended to pack 1 liter of drinkabble water per day, per person. So that’s 3 liters of drinkable water.

So do we just pack a 3 liter container of water and that’s it for the water situation? Not exactly…

Carrying your entire 72-hour supply of water in one container is risky business.

When it comes to your survival water supply, putting all your eggs in one basket does not apply.

When it comes to your survival water supply, putting all your eggs in one basket does not apply. Click to Tweet

So we want to store our water in a couple of different containers to be on the safe side. If something happens to one container, you’ll have the others and the situation won’t be as bad.

Short-Term Storage

For short-term water storage and carrying. Nothing beats having the best survival canteen to carry your H2O.

Long-Term Storage

When you’re storing water for the long term, it’s straight forward. Here’s what you need to know.

How much room do I have?

How big of a container do I have?

After answering those two questions for yourself, you can store as much water as you want.

And yes, the more you store, the better.

Note: Make sure to use food-grade level plastic for the container. Any lesser in quality plastics will make you sick.

Containers For Storing Water

For the containers themselves, there are a few different options.

Here is first look at the different types of containers.

  • Water Bottle
  • Bottled water
  • Canteens
  • Small containers
  • Mid-sized containers
  • Large containers
  • Collapsible Water Containers
  • Bladders
  • 2-Liter Soda Bottles
  • Improvised Water Containers
  • Condoms
  • Plastic Bags
  • Common Plastic Bottles can be shifted into a canteen
  • Big rain barrel thing
  • Canteens
  • Belly
  • Water Bottles
  • Metal
  • collapsible soft

Going down the street to your local store and grabbing a gallon for .99 cents won’t be an option.

So we have to do different things to collect and preserve enough water supply to get you through the crisis. 

The irony of rain. It literally falls from the sky in great volumes. But collecting it is a bit trickier. 

Here are some ways you can capture and store rainwater. 

  • Tarps and Ponchos
  • Absorb from morning dew

Again, collecting the water is slightly more complex than turning a faucet.

Finding Emergency Water Sources

How to collect rainwater from dew

Wrap bandanas around your feet and go for a stroll. Easy does it. 

The bandanas will absorb the water and then you can extract it from them after a few steps. Rinse and repeat, literally. 

Make a solar still


Plant exhalation

Filter the water with your bandana as well. This will remove larger particles from it.


Transporting Water


Water Carriers

Use a hockey stick or similar object to carry multiple gallon water juggs at the same time.




How Much Do You Need


Water Recommendations

If you’re going to make sure you store enough water, knowing how much to store per person, per day would be what you would go by.

But what do you go by?

How much water should you store?

Well, the U.S. government recommends that we have 1 gallon of water, per day, per person. Also, remember to include your pets.

On the other hand…

According to, Males need x quarts and females need about 1 quart.

Well, let’s look at what the recommendations are from the authorities, associations, and experts are. FEMA recommends that you store 1 gallon per person per day.

Calculate Water Needs

Now that you know the recommendations for how much water each person needs per day. Let’s crunch the digital numbers and calculate how much water you actually need.

The rule of threes states that we can only survive about 3 days without water.

That rule is often overlooked when prepping our bug out bags and other gear. We usually just pack a canteen with a quart or two of water.

But when you actually sit down and do the math, the amount of water we should pack for just a 72-hour bug out bag/survival kit is a lot more than we may initially think and prepare for.


Water Conservation: How To Conserve Your Water Supply

You’ve harvested water.

You’ve stored it properly. 

But if you don’t make it last and you rub out of supply. 

Its all been all for not. 

Now that we collected and harvested a handsome amount of H2O, we don’t want to squander it like we have an unlimited supply.

Cook a meal, have a glass of water, wash up with a decent shower and you’ll discover how fast your water supply can evaporate into oblivion.

Here are ways to conserve the water you have so it lasts until the emergency is over.

Make It Drinkable: Water Purification Methods

There are two go-to methods for purifying water.

  • Boiling
  • Using Chemicals

Boiling is the most common method that people use to make the water safe to drink.

Proper Boiling Techniques

Boiling water seems straight forward and a no brainer. But this isn’t the case. Not all boiling sessions are created equal. How you go about boiling makes a difference in the outcome of your water. 

Boiling is the preferred method to make any water drinkable. 

Boiling does a good job destroying any mold, viruses, and bacteria from the water. 

Bring water to a boil using a simple camping stove or another portable stove.

Purify With Chemicals

The two most common chemicals to use for purification are:

  • Chlorine
  • Iodine


Here’s how to purify water with Chlorine bleach.


The second and most common water purification method is by using chemicals like Iodine.

There are what seems to be an infinite number of methods, tricks, and materials you can use to purify water and make it drinkable. Too many to also include a full guide in this post on all the methods.

We have a guide here on how to purify water with

In the purifications guide, you’ll learn How To Purify Water Using:

  • Iodine
  • Chlorine Bleach
  • Boiling
  • In The Wild

…and many more.

See the guide on all of the possible methods to purify water here.

Uses for Undrinkable Water

There are other things you can do with your non-potable water other than draining it.



Fire Extinguisher

Must-Watch Videos


Emergency Water Survival Book

If you’re looking for even more information on the world of water purification and storage, these are the best emergency water books.

There’s not many, but there are a few books and guides that provide oceans of water wisdom like a fire hydrant.

Harvesting H2O: A prepper’s guide to the collection, treatment, and storage of drinking water while living off the grid
By Nicholas Hyde

This book by Nicholas Hyde is a straight forward emergency water guide that you may want to pick up.


It’s common to think that water is in an abundant never ending supply of fresh clean water to drink at the turn of a faucet. But in reality, before, during or after a crisis. This is never the case. Water is one of the first resources to get sold out. 

Now you have everything you need to harvest, collect, store, purify, and preserve an emergency water resource.

What’s your water survival plan like? 

Do you know any other methods of water purification?

Up Next: The Survival Garden: How To Grow Your Own Vegetables

emergency water survival guide for preppers

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