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Water Is Life: 10 Ways to Source Water During a Disaster

by Andrew Ciccone September 26, 2018

Water is essential to life.

How long can we last without water? The Rule of Threes states that most adults can survive three days without water. Make no mistake, man cannot exist without water.

Superstorms are becoming more commonplace, each event leaves a deep and lasting impact on how Americans think about readiness before and after a storm. Extreme rain, rain, ice and lightning wreak havoc on our homes, roads and power grid.  

Dozens of hurricanes and tropical storms, snow and ice storms, and other extreme weather events have damaged the Northeastern grid and forced massive outages. In other regions of the U.S., tornadoes, hurricanes, hail and wildfires remain a constant threat to the electricity system.

Storms also foul up our water supply, wastewater mixes with our drinking water, toxic chemicals leach into the soil and contaminate our drinking water. Be prepared. Know where you can find water.

Here are the Top Ten Ways to Source Water During A Disaster:


When our water supply is compromised, you have got to search for fast-flowing water at higher elevations that are not impacted by humans and livestock. Local lakes, ponds, rivers and streams are good sources of fresh, clean drinking water.

Avoid water if you see an oil slick on the surface. Filtering and boiling water does not remove chemicals. Be wary if there’s no green vegetation growing around the water or if there are animal bones present, which are signs of pollution. Also be careful if there are a lot of mineral deposits along the edge of the water, which could indicate an alkaline condition.


Puddles are natural water catches. Puddles form on big rocks, in the crook of a tree, or in valleys. Look especially in the shade. On mountains, look for water trapped in crevices. Also look for lush vegetation on the faults which could indicate a spring.

Stagnant water in a puddle is prone to contamination. Check it.  Water sources should be considered “dirty” and must be disinfected. Learn HOW TO CLEAN WATER.


When birds are heading for water they fly low and straight. When returning, they fly from tree to tree, resting often. Focus on the grain-eating birds like pigeons. Birds of prey and water birds do not drink frequently, making them poor indicators of nearby water.

Bees are a reliable sign that water is nearby. Bees typically stay within 4 miles of the hive, and the hive is always within 4 miles of water. Most flies stay within 100 yards of water. A column of ants walking up a tree is going to a trapped reservoir of water.

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Four. RAIN

Rainwater is probably cleaner than anything you’ll find on the ground. Build your own catchment with a tarp or leaves, running the water into your containers. Fashion a makeshift container by hollowing out a wooden stump or by digging a hole in the ground and lining it with clay. You can even use a natural rock depression to store water.


Dig a deep hole into wet dirt or sand, it will slowly fill up with water. Look in the same places you might find a puddle — valley bottoms, dry stream beds, etc. Under patches of green vegetation is also a good bet.


In the morning, when all the vegetation is covered in dew, you can collect it. Use a cloth to soak up all the moisture and wring it out into a container. If the vegetation is low to the ground, you can tie the cloth around your ankles while walking through it.



Water can sometimes be harvested from tree roots near the surface by removing the bark and sucking out the moisture. Or you can shave it to a pulp and squeeze the water out. Unless you’re familiar with the plant and are sure it’s safe to drink from, it’s a better idea to extract the water from vegetation using a solar still.


Don’t drink seawater directly — it’ll actually dehydrate you faster. Distill fresh water from salt water using one of the two methods above ( see also HOW TO CLEAN WATER ).


During the winter months, melt ice or snow to get water. Melting is preferred over eating it directly so that you avoid lowering your core temperature. Also prefer ice over snow, because you’ll get more water for the energy you use to melt it.

If you don’t have a fire to melt with, put the ice into your water bottle and place it under your jacket. Eventually, it will melt from your body heat.

With water, we thrive. Without water, there is no life. Water is the essence of life. Until help arrives, we all need to do what we can to stay alive. Without water we can only survive for about three days. Safe, clean drinkable water is a necessity.

Water is life.


Andrew Ciccone
Andrew Ciccone


Andrew Ciccone, VP Branding & Media Strategy - Andrew's long strange marketing trip began after graduating from Syracuse University with a BS in Marketing. Andrew then developed his marketing prowess when he moved to Madison Avenue big boys Young & Rubicam, Backer Spielvogel, and Grey Advertising. He went on to get a Masters in Corporate Communications from Baruch College, then went on to start his own agency in 2011 - Hudson Valley Public Relations. Andrew has earned a reputation for creative, smart, innovative campaigns that get results. Andrew's spare time is devoted to sailing regattas, family fun and film. To date he has penned four screenplays.

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