When the taps go dry, things can get very ugly pretty quickly. A normal North American household uses about 100 gallons of indoor water use per day.
When the taps go dry, you will realize that you can get by on a fraction of that number. In fact, some can get by on only 1% of that number. That's right, only 2 gallons per day!
That might be hard to achieve while you still have plenty of water available, why put yourself through the trouble? But when you have no choice, you better know how to deal with it. So this post will not be about how to collect water, but how to ration and most efficiently use the minimal water that you do have.
The average person needs to drink about one gallon of water per day. That's the amount you need to survive. Next, anything extra will go towards things like hygiene; washing yourself and then other stuff like clothing.
Below are two maps of the United States. The first shows where the current drought areas are. The second is the average precipitation map. (The first map should automatically update itself every week or so. If it out of date, just leave me a comment below so I can tend to it, thanks.)
If you live on the east coast, northern latitudes or high altitudes, then many of you will be able to capture plenty of water from rain or snow if you have the equipment setup to do so. But if you live in any of the red or orange areas, mostly in the southwest, be prepared to employ severe water conservation methods.
All right then let's get to it. Here are a few ideas on how to survive with an extreme water emergency:
Ideas For Dishes
- Water Basin Soaking : Have a small tub filled with shallow water and soak your dishes one at a time. Collect the used water that is not too dirty, also called grey water. Reuse that water for other tasks like watering, or in the toilet (see below).
- Paper Plates and Plastic Utensils : Sure it's a waste, but we're not trying to save the environment, we're trying to save your life. Have a few weeks worth of these items stored away. You won't have to bother washing dishes for a while which will save quite a bit of water.
Ideas For Cooking
- Store Canned Foods : Most canned foods have a water based liquid (sometimes it's oil). Consuming this water means that you won't need to drink as much, leaving more water for other purposes. The opposite of that would be dry food storage (like beans, rice, and pasta) which although is a great way to store and conserve food, requires additional water to rehydrate and cook.
- Reuse Cooking Water : After cooking some pasta for example, use the left over water to hydrate other dry goods like beans. You can also just soak your dry food overnight instead of boiling.
- Keep A Lid On It : Some food can take a while to cook. When boiling your food, make sure you keep a lid on the pot. You can loose a lot of water to steam.
Ideas For Clothing
- Wash Your Clothes In A Bucket : A five gallon bucket and an agitator is all you need. Use the least amount of water possible, just to cover the clothing. Don't have an agitator, use a (very) clean plunger instead. It won't do the same job but it's better than nothing.
- Own Dark Clothing : Clothes that are darker won't get visibly dirty as fast so you can go longer without washing them.
Ideas For Washing Yourself
- Hand Pump Garden Sprayer : Not enough water for a bath, how about a shower? Use one of these sprayers to (kind of) hose you down. It'll be easier if you work in pairs as it may be difficult to spray yourself everywhere. Paint the container black, put it in the sun for a while and now you've got hot water!
- Old Cotton T-Shirts : Didn't buy that garden sprayer? You're going to have to wash yourself by 'sponging'. Soak your t-shirt (or other cloth fabric) in soapy water and scrub away.
- No Rinse Shampoo : Also called Dry Shampoo. I didn't know this existed before researching for this article, but it does. It's not a long term solution but it can definitely extend the time between needing to use water on your hair. You can purchase these products or make your own.
- Cutting Your Hair : The less hair you have, the less water it will take to wash it. Sorry ladies but you may need to use those scissors.
- Reduce Sweating : The less active you are, the less moisture you will lose to transpiration. This will help in two ways. First, you won't have to drink as much to replace lost water. Second, you won't have to wash yourself as frequently.
Ideas For Getting Rid Of Waste
- Outhouse : Fancy way of going to the bathroom outside without using any water from a toilet.
- Using The Toilet : You can still flush the toilet if the traditional water supply is out. You just need to have some grey water to dump into the tank.
Rationing water at this level is definitely no fun, but hopefully these tips can help you reduce your water use when the supply is extremely low. If you have any other ideas, please let everyone know by leaving a comment. Thanks.