Last year, I had the opportunity to attend PrepperCon in Salt Lake City. For those who aren’t familiar with PrepperCon, it’s an expo for survival and preparedness enthusiasts featuring guest speakers, product demonstrations and instructional classes.
One of the attendees was José Salvador Alvarenga. On Nov. 17, 2012, Alvarenga set out from the fishing village of Costa Azul, off the coast of Chiapas, Mexico.
Shortly after embarking on what was supposed to a 30-hour deep-sea-fishing expedition, José’s 24-foot fiberglass skiff was blown off course by an intense storm, during which he also lost engine power on his small craft.
Fourteen months — or 438 days — later, José spotted land. He abandoned his boat and swam ashore, finally ending his harrowing journey at sea. Clearly, this is an incredible story of survival.
Lost at Sea
This courageous fisherman was able to outlast his ordeal by eating raw fish, turtles, small birds and whatever refuse he could salvage from the ocean.
But what about water? Because the reality is you can only survive for about three days without water, and José was adrift for over a year…
Using any container he had on hand, José collected rainwater to drink — which is certainly a viable option if you’re desperate.
However, it’s definitely not my first option when it comes to finding fresh water, because it could be contaminated.
If you live near a large industrial plant, for instance, rainwater could be tainted by noxious chemicals coming from the plant.
So — besides rainwater — here are four alternative sources for finding drinkable water during an emergency:
- Fill ’er Up — If you have time to prepare for a disaster, one of the things I recommend doing is filling your bathtubs and sinks with water. If an earthquake breaks water supply lines or a storm cuts off power to your well, you could be without water for an extended time. But you could use the water from your bathtubs and sinks to survive until you are able to get more
- Pipe Dreams — If your local water supply is no longer safe, you can still use the water already in the pipes. However, the first thing you need to do is shut off the main water supply to keep contaminated water from entering the pipes. Next, go to the lowest faucet in your house (such as one in the basement) and turn the water on. Using a bucket, catch the water left in the pipes to tide you over
- In Hot Water — Another option to consider is the water in your hot water tank. Depending on the size of the tank, you could have 40–60 gallons to use, which could make a huge difference in a survival situation. Lastly, while it’s not the most pleasant option to consider, you could also drain the water from each of your toilet tanks. If your water is blue or filled with chemicals, though, I don’t advise using it for drinking
- Outside Chance — Finally, if you’ve been without water for an extended time and used every possible source inside your home, you need to be prepared to leave your house and find water outdoors. Outside sources may include nearby lakes, streams or drainage ditches. Just be sure to filter the water before drinking it.
Here are two final pieces of advice. First, while it’s always advisable to have a backup plan, your primary source of water in an emergency should be your water storage.
Whether you’ve stocked up on bottled water, filled a few 55-gallon barrels or invested in WaterBricks (my No. 1 water storage system), you should have one gallon of water per person per day for 30 days.
Second, if you do have to tap into the alternate water sources listed above, you need to have a way to filter it so you don’t get sick.
Illness often leads to dehydration, which is a surefire way to make a bad problem worse.
Check out the SurvFilter — this handy device once saved my life on an overseas mission, and I would trust my family’s lives with it, too.
Water is the elixir of life. If you haven’t already started stocking up, I recommend making this your No. 1 prepping priority.