Survival Basics: Water

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Survival Basics: Water | via www.backdoorsurvival.comA frequent theme in the preparedness community is the importance of water.  Where to find it, how to store it, how to purify it and how to filter it.  Whether you are a prepping newbie or an experienced survivalist, water should be high on your list of prepping priorities.

Every year or so, I like to share an article on water, not only for the benefit of the many prepping newbies that visit Backdoor Survival, but also as a refresher course for those of us that are more experienced.  Today’s article is an update to information that I have previously shared but that does not make it any less important.


When I first started Backdoor Survival, my focus was on gathering the basics: food, water, shelter and fire.  Of course, along the way I have learned that there is so much more that is essential to long term survival.  Things that come to mind are clean air, clothing, first aid, self-defense, signaling and contact with others.

But today I want to keep things simple and, for the benefit of my newer readers, go back the basics and review the essentials of water for survival.


Clean water is something that we all take for granted.  We turn on the faucet and there it is.  It is plentiful, it is clean and it is drinkable.  Yes, it may have some undesirable chemical additions (fluorides come to mind) but that is a subject for another day.  So if a disaster occurred and the supply lines to fresh water were comprised, we would be in a pickle.  There is a possibility that safe water would not be available for days and possibly not for weeks.

Survival Basics: Water | via www.backdoorsurvival.comFor this reason, the American Red Cross, FEMA, and just about every other authority out there recommends that the public store at least one gallon of water per person, per day for a minimum of three days.  But if you think that a three day water supply is adequate, think again.

A more reasonable recommendation is that you up the recommended amount of stored water to a two week supply.  So for two people that would be 2 people x 1 gallon x 14 days = 28 gallons.  This amount should cover your minimal needs for drinking, food preparation and nominal – and I mean nominal – hygiene.


Storing water for an emergency can be as simple as filling thoroughly washed plastic or glass containers with tap water and sealing them tightly.  This is something that anyone can do without incurring a cost so long as few simple rules are followed.

So let’s do it. Let us store some water following these steps:

1. Clean them up. Thoroughly clean your plastic bottle and jugs with dishwashing soap and water then rinse completely so there is no residual soap.

2. Sanitize with bleach. Sanitize your bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of un-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Swish the sanitizing solution in the containers so that it touches all interior surfaces. Don’t forget to sanitize the lids and caps as well. After sanitizing the containers and caps, thoroughly rinse out the bleach solution with clean water.

3. Fill ‘em up. Fill them to the top with regular tap water. Add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water, then tightly close the containers using the original caps. It is probably a good idea to use some latex or nitrile glovesSurvival Basics: Water | via at this point so that you maintain the sanitation and do not contaminate the caps by touching the inside of them with your fingers.

4. Date the outside with a permanent marker such as a Sharpie.

5. Store in a cool, dark place.

6. Important: rotate in six months to a year. Dump the water, re-sanitize the jugs, and start all over. Or, if you have the space, mark the jugs as “non-potable” and save the water for non-drinking emergency purposes.

Personally, I think it would be a good idea to put up a few jugs at the first of each month. Do this for six months and you will build up a nice, rotating stock.

Plastic soda bottles or juice jugs work well for this purpose.

Water stored this way is good for six months to a year as long as it is kept in a cool, dark place.  Regardless of where it is kept, the containers should be rotated at the end of the designated period.

Note:  Milk jugs should not be used since the milk  and protein sugars are difficult to remove and will compromise the stored water because this will provide an environment for bacteria growth.  In addition, milk jugs are flimsy and will not hold up, even for a short period of time.  Ditto cardboard. The cardboard will eventually leak and make a big mess. Glass is okay but be aware that glass is heavy and subject to breakage.

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If you have the space and the budget, you can purchase food-grade plastic drums designed for water storage.  These typically hold 55 gallons of water and with the addition of proper purification chemicals, will keep the water safe for up to five years.  I personally have a 55 gallon water storage system.  It was easy to set up and it came outfitted as a complete kit with all of the various tools and siphons I will need if/when that emergency situation occurs.

Another alternative, of course, is bottled water. The same rule applies:  store in a cool, dark area and periodically rotate.


In addition to tap water, there are other hidden sources of water that you can use when a disaster occurs.  These sources include the water in your hot water heater, pipes, and even the ice cubes from the icemaker in your refrigerator or freezer.  Before tapping in to these sources, however, you will first need to shut off the main valve coming in to your home so that you do not contaminate the ”good” water with the “bad”.

Here are some specific instructions for using the water in your hot water tank:

  • Turn off the electricity or gas.
  • Open the drain at the bottom of the tank.
  • Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve at the tank and turning on a hot-water faucet.
  • And don’t forget: be sure to refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on.


Barring the use of stored water or the hidden water sources in your home, there is always the outdoors.  Water may be available from rainwater, streams, ponds, lakes and natural streams.  But absolutely stay away from flood water since it is likely to contain sewage and other nasties that you do not even want to think about.

When using outdoor sources of water, you are going to have to undertake purification measures to make it safe.  There are many ways to purify water, some better than others and some easier than others.


For ad hoc water purification, nothing beats plain old Clorox as long as it is fresh (no more than a year old) and unscented.

According to the Clorox website: When boiling off water for 1 minute is not possible in an emergency situation, you can disinfect your drinking water with Clorox® Regular-Bleach as follows:

1. Remove suspended particles by filtering or letting particles settle to the bottom.

2. Pour off clear water into a clean container.

3. Add 8 drops of Clorox® Regular-Bleach (not scented or Clorox® Plus® bleaches) to one gallon of water (2 drops to 1 quart). For cloudy water, use 16 drops per gallon of water (4 drops to 1 quart).

Boiling water is considered the safest method of purifying water.  What you do is bring water to a rolling boil for three to five minutes.  The water may not taste that great but it will be safe to drink.

Factoid:  To improve the taste of boiled or stored water, you can put some oxygen back in to the water by pouring it back and forth between two containers.

As an alternative to bleach or boiling water, the EPA has guidelines for using calcium hypochlorite, commonly sold as “pool shock” to disinfect water:

Add and dissolve one heaping teaspoon of high-test granular calcium hypochlorite (approximately ¼ ounce) for each two gallons of water, or 5 milliliters (approximately 7 grams) per 7.5 liters of water.

The mixture will produce a stock chlorine solution of approximately 500 milligrams per liter, since the calcium hypochlorite has available chlorine equal to 70 percent of its weight. To disinfect water, add the chlorine solution in the ratio of one part of chlorine solution to each 100 parts of water to be treated.

This is roughly equal to adding 1 pint (16 ounces) of stock chlorine to each 12.5 gallons of water or (approximately ½ liter to 50 liters of water) to be disinfected. To remove any objectionable chlorine odor, aerate the disinfected water by pouring it back and forth from one clean container to another.

A good reference for this and other purification methods can be found in the downloadable and printable article Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water.


Survival Basics: Water | via

The use of water filters to make raw water drinkable is another solution to the water for survival dilemma.  The nice thing about a filtration system is that it will not only supplement your stored water, but will provide you with great tasting, chemical free drinking water for day to day.  I personally have a Royal Berkey and to tell the truth, wonder what took me so long to discover this alternative to purchased water in bottles and a countertop Brita.

This is not to say that I don’t have bottled water because I do.  After all, if I have to leave my home it would be tough to drag along a 55 gallon water barrel or a Berkey. But for day to day drinking as well as long term survival needs, you simply can not beat a quality filtration system.


I have had good luck with the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter. This lightweight and affordable filter is like an oversized straw.  You can use it with a cup or dip it directly into a pond or stream.  There are other portable water filtering systems as well and these are hand to keep in your emergency backpack, your car or your travel kit.

Survival Basics: Water | via


Thanks to a tip from one of my readers, I learned that you can find pre-used, food grade plastic drums on Craigslist for about $25 each.  If you decide to check in to this, be sure to confirm that the original contents was food then clean them well first with vinegar and baking soda to remove odors and then with bleach for sanitation.

Here in my area, there is a fellow that sells such barrels and will even add a hose bib at the bottom for a nominal cost.  I am not 100% sure I would drink from such a barrel but the water inside should be great for bathing, laundry and housekeeping chores.

Another reader has suggested the use of colloidal silver to get rid of bacteria in water.  I have not researched this personally, however.

Whatever your water storage method of choice, I highly recommend that you store at least two weeks of water for every member of your household.  Just remember that depending on climate conditions, you can only survive for an average of three to five days without the intake of water.  Why take a chance?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Bargain Bin: Below you will find a selection of water storage and filtration options.

LifeStraw Personal Water FilterSurvival Basics: Water | via  The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultra light personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out.  It weighs only 2oz. making it perfect for the prepper. There is also a larger sized LifeStraw Family currently available with free shipping. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.

waterBOB Emergency Drinking Water Storage:  Have you considered storing water in your bathtub?  The Water Bob is a bladder that you can use in your bathtub to store water if you know that a storm, flood, or hurricane is brewing.

NALGENE BPA-Free Water Bottle:  These $8 water bottles have served me well.  I fill them up with water from my Royal Berkey and keep one bedside, one at my desk and another in the bathroom.  Keep in mind that price-wise, some colors will be more expensive so if color does not matter, go with the cheapest (currently the green version). 

Katadyn Vario Microfilter Water Filtration System:  This highly regard water filtration system is currently on sale for $69.99 which is 26% off the normal price of $94.95.  The Katadyn system combines the benefits of easy operation, high water output, and extended cartridge life. Not only that, it filters up to 2 quarts per minute of pumping.

Colloidal Silver Medical Uses, Toxicology & Manufacture:  If you are interested in learning more about colloidal silver, this is the book to get.  It is written by John Hill, the same author of How to Live on Wheat which I reviewed awhile back in my article Why Store Wheat – Wheat 101 for Newbies.

55-Gallon Barrel Combo:  Check around because prices vary on this combo.  Back in January 2011, I paid about $160 for the same thing so anything less than $150 (with shipping) is a great deal.

Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets: Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets make questionable water bacteriologically suitable to drink. Easy to use and the water is ready to drink in 30 minutes. One 50 tablet bottle treats 25 quarts of water.

Sharpie Permanent Markers:  The ubiquitous Sharpie pen is great way to mark your water with the date so that you have a reference when it comes time to rotate and replace.  Less than $7 for a box of 12 markers is a great price – better than Costco, Office Depot, and Staples.


Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials: The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.

Survival Basics: Water | via

Recent purchases from Emergency Essentials

The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.  I have a monthly budget and each month I add a bit more freeze dried food and other  products to my long term storage – always making my selection from sale items.

There are a lot new items that are put on sale each month – be sure to take a look.

Note: I earn a small commission on your purchase making this a great way to support Backdoor Survival which will always be free to everyone.

Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials


Need something from Amazon (and who doesn’t)? I earn a small commission from purchases made when you begin your Amazon shopping experience here. You still get great Amazon service and the price is the same, no matter what.

The Amazon Top Ten Most Wanted Survival and Outdoor Items
Emergency Preparedness Items from Amazon.comSurvival Basics: Water | via

Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!


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Survival Basics: Water | via

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Survival Basics: Water | via www.backdoorsurvival.comFROM THE ALMOST FREE DEPARTMENT

This month my friends at Survival Life are offering their Survival Seeds Playing Cards for free.  The only hitch is that you must pay $2.95 in shipping charges.

These cards are pretty cool – with each card showing all of the information you need to know about how to grow, harvest, and prepare 52 nutrient-rich vegetables and herbs from seeds.

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Survival Basics: Water — 131 Comments

  1. I keep a hidden stash of smaller bills so that if I am out and about when something bad happens, I can stop by a store to pick up last minute items. (2 years ago during Hurricane Irene, a grocer opened with no power and could take only small-bill cash)

    (I want to win a straw for my college son’s dorm BOB! Pick us please!)

  2. I would probably say my most important Every Day Carry item is my Leatherman. It weighs down my pocketbook abit but I don’t go anywhere without it! It was one of my Christmas presents given to me by my spouse – he understands that I don’t want jewelry – prepping stuff I do need!!!

  3. I always have my buck pocket knife and my flint/fire starter kit. Two things that many things can be done with.

  4. My EDC item is my BRAIN… In my group of friends and co-works I am MacGyver. They come to me when things fall apart or go wrong or they just cannot figure it out. I can normally find some creative way to solve their dilemma. My brain is always with me, never needs batteries, ALWAYS functions, I cannot lose it, and it NEVER FAILS!!!

    I hope you agree.

  5. it is to hard to make a choice of just one item to have in case of shtf. i would guess that i would have a supply of different types of metals to barter with. at least having metals to barter with you could buy almost anything you needed.

  6. i would also like to make a comment on using collidal silver for purifing water. it is good to use but from what i understand is that it is not good to use or keep collidal silver in plactic contaniers. i think the silver may stick to the plastic or something like that. and i may be wrong about this but it,s what i,ve been told,,,, i use collidal silver alot and make it myself. it,s good to have around.

    • @Tee Ryan. Silver should always be stored in dark glass bottles. No plastic and no metal. Storage of silver should be treated just as hydrogen peroxide (H2-O2). Don’t allow light to get to it, and glass only.
      I have both silver and H2-O2 for water purifying.

  7. I have to say my multi-tool and knife. I keep them clipped together and am one of the few women I know who consistently carry both. I use at least one of them every day.

  8. On the water article. If you are storing commercial bottled water, the bottles they use are really flimsy. Be careful to store them in a place with a stable temperature so they don’t flex in and out, then fracture.

  9. My Gerber multi-tool. On the topic of water barrels,if you have a food processor in town you can usually get them for free if you know someone who works there. At our local scrap yard they are $5. The ones for vinegar have the thickest walls.

  10. My #1 everyday carry item is a lighter. However, I always carry a knife, large paracord bracelet, flashlight and bottle/can opener too. Why a lighter? Honestly, today you can find all kinds of junk even in the woods. But a functioning lighter? almost never.

  11. I always have a flashlight with me in my purse. You just need to be able to see! Lately I have been taking mace with me as well. I carry it on my key chain, this past year I have run into some strange and dangerous people and decided I just need to have it “just in case.”

  12. My favorite always carry item is my multi-bladed Old Timer knife. I’m never without it so I don’t fly anywhere anymore,

  13. My most important EDC is actually 3 things stashed in the truck. A gas can, siphon hose and five $20 bills. I think the most likely thing to prevent me from getting homing a crisis would be fuel. Im rarely more than 100 miles from home. Power failure shuting down gas pumps and ATMs would be one of the symptoms of many natural and man made disasters. Im pretty sure it wouldn’t be hard to find some greedy fool to sell five gallons of gas out of his vehicle for $100 bucks. If I don’t need fuel $100 cash can fix a lot of short term problems if you don’t care what it costs.

  14. Everyone is quoting the “one gallon per person per day” figure, but I have to disagree with it. If you live in a hot climate, such as Arizona or South Texas, drinking one gallon of water per day will kill you. In that type of climate, you need to drink two gallons per water per day, especially if you are out in the heat. Any water for cooking and minimal personal hygiene is over and above that.

    • I live in New Mexico, and your remark about daily water consumption is accurate.
      The New Mexico government recommends 1 gallon per day per person if you are inside and inactive as a minimum. If you are outside working in the dry heat, up to 3 gallons per person per day is recommended. Young children can get by on less.
      The air literally sucks the water out of your skin. One of the first signs that you need to drink more water is a headache.
      My family of 4 uses about 20 gallons of “purified water” a week, just for drinking.
      The water from the tap is too hard with calcium, magnesium, naturally occurring arsenic & fluoride, added chlorine and who knows what else to cook with. Boiling the tap water creates a scum on the top of the water in the pan, and the taste is horrible.
      Most people I know who can stomach the tap water and actually drink it tend to develop gall stones or kidney stones within a year or two.
      It even stunts the growth of garden plants. I did a test using collected rain water (which is rare these days) and tap water on the plants, and the rain barrel watered plants grew 3 times as large as the tap water plants, and put out more produce.
      I wish we could afford any of the Berkley gravity filter systems, or something similar; but the hard water quickly clogs up the filter systems I have tried so far (as in a week or two).

  15. I keep my pistol (springfield xds) 2 extra mags, $100 cash, my benchmade automatic knife, and I always have my camping gear just because I love to camp and always ready to go to include water and a few MRE’s and fishing gear.

  16. I carry many things as does others posting here but I have found a lot of uses for my vintage, steel handled ice pick which I keep attached to an earth magnet for easy carrying. My greatest concern is getting together a bag my husband can keep in his vehicle to give him a greater chance of getting home in case of of a SHTF situation. The LifeStraw is an essential tool for his chance to succeed. If I don’t believe he is on his way home because he is not prepared to get here, I’m not sticking around for the ensuing chaos. I can’t do it without him and I don’t care to try. He could be hundreds of miles away when the inevitable takes place.

  17. So hard to decide on ONE item. I always have a multi-tool, first aid kit, flashlight, firestarter and bottled water with me. I’d add a water filter — but I don’t have a small portable one. Yet.

  18. It is awfully tough to pick one item. I liked what D.A. said about the lighter – you almost never find a working one – but in the end I would have to go with a good knife or multi-tool. I carry a Gerber multi-tool and it does come in handy. One minor thing that I think a lot of people overlook is entertainment. Even in an emergency, there will be enough time to get bored. Just ask a soldier. For me I keep a miniature deck of cards in my BOB. You can play spades for DAYS. Just ask a soldier.

  19. I have to have a knife. It is essential and can be used for multiple purposes. I usually have more than one, especially when hunting.

  20. I also like the LifeStraw, we should all keep several on hand. Water is the most essential item, and I enjoyed reading your article. Thanks!

  21. I try to carry an emergency 1st aid kit everywhere I go and in each vehicle. I have a few 1st aid kits at home with thousands of dollars in first aid supplies. Those 1st aid kits have helped many families, children and friends. I have used them on the scene of accidents, during life saving measures and body recoveries. I am not a medic (I am medically trained) and I am not a dr. I am just a civilian, first aid, C.P.R., E.M.T.A., medic/first responder, High angle rescue trained. Most on my own time on my own dime but, company’s I work for (I do construction) know I am a Master S.C.U.B.A. Diver/Dive Master and know I have a lot of first responder training so, they also ask I help if the situation arises. So, my vote (amongst other immediate use items that are in my first aid kit) is a first aid kit. Thank you.

  22. I always read all the comments on this site. They give anyone good food for thought. This week you are asking me to think of what is important to carry with me everyday. When I leave home, on my fireplace mantel are all the things I usually carry with me. My Case folding knife, cash, credit cards, a box of matches, the little round pill carrier and tiny little flash light, that is on my key chain, but after giving it much thought, I would not go out of the house without picking up my pocket pistol. Don’t leave home without it..

  23. I don’t have a vehicle without a first aid kit, a flashlight, multi-screw driver and jumper cables. My purse has a keychain flashlight and a few small bills of cash…I need to build up my reserves of cash. I usually also have a few water bottles in the vehicles, too. I try not to let my gas gauge go below 1/4 tank…in the Jeep I have a gas can with about 4 gallons of gas with stabilizer added (Jeep’s gas gauge doesn’t work…so have to keep a running tally of gallons in/miles driven). I am working on building 72 hour/BOBags for the 5 of us.

  24. Although I have my whole EDC bag with me all the time, the most important item in it for me is my extra medication. Without that everything else is moot.

  25. We have this thing, not sure of the name, that uses ultra violet light to kill bacteria in water. My daughter used it for a science experiment a couple of months ago using creek water. Although the water did not look clean, it did taste really good.

  26. My purse is my EDC, as well as a basic survival kit. Matches, first aid, knives, lighters, you just never know when your going to need that stuff. Plus I’m a mom, so the first aid kit comes in handy. A lot. Lol I’d really like to win a life straw, I am still very new to all of this, but from what I have found it seems like an amazing tool to carry along on my outdoor adventures and to have on hand.

  27. My most important EDC is a good quality folding knife. Right now I am using an awesome pocket fixed blade from Nick Woo at Woo Metal Works. Thank you for the contest!

  28. I bought a couple of lifestraws and because I was afraid they might break in my bag, I got some large water bottle2 and put them inside the empty bottles. That way I can fill the bottles with water for drinking now and later. I am getting too old to crawl on the ground. I might never get back up!

  29. Yes, thanks for your articles. Not sure what I’m supposed to answer here, about water or a I’ll do both. Lighter in my purse, and I’ll have to look into the 55 gallon barrels.

  30. The lifestraw ia a great tool for all kinds of uses. It is every bit as good as a Pur filter on the faucet, and it is portable.

  31. Thanks for all the constant updates — hard work on your part but much appreciated by us all.

    Have you tried out the following water filter? It seems to work fine and sure handles a bunch of filtered water without filter changes.

  32. Thanks for all the information you provide for us. I always learn something new from each of your articles. The Life Straw sound great. Crossing my fingers that I win! Kepp up the good work.

  33. When I was getting clean water at the water store, I was using milk jugs and some of those milk jugs were over a year old. I used them for ages. I don’t understand why you think they are too fragile to use. Of course, some of them did get holes, and some I didn’t get very clean, but as a whole they were pretty good for six months or longer.

  34. I just wanted to add a company I have found and deal with for water filters. The reason being this company has what they call a Rad filter. It filters out radiation from the water. They developed it after the disaster in Japan. It has been through all kinds of testing and given rave remarks. They have drinking bottles, pitchers, straws, and even pumps and bags. The company is Seychelle Water Filtration
    32963 Calle Perfecto
    San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
    Tel: 949-234-1999 Fax 949-234-1998

    I love my water bottles and pitcher and will also get the straw and the pump for my barrels.

  35. Enjoyed the article, love reading what others carry (great ideas) .. Always have my bag, cash, small knife – would love to add The LifeStraw as well.

  36. My edc is my Leatherman Skeletool, a pocket flashlight, and a lighter. The Leatherman was a safety award from work so it was free and the flashlight i need for work so its always with me and the lighter is for just in case. Glad i found this blog. Its one of the few that doesnt have this newb in a panick when i read it. Thanks for a cool, calm, and sensable approach to prepping (my wife definitely appreciates my less panicked state now)

  37. Great ideas and input here! Water is one thing we always seem to take for granted–until we have none. I like the mention about colloidal silver, although I would use small plastic containers for short-term portability. But definitely glass for long-term storage. Thanks for a great article!

  38. My EDC is my PURSE … really … It has a strip of water purification tablets in an Altoids tin, firesteel, two knives (Gerber EAB lite & a multi-tool type, paper, pens (blue & black), paper clips, pocket rain poncho, $5.00 in quarters, two flashlights, a refillable butane lighter, travel advil & tylenol, antacids, band-aids, salt & pepper packets, spare keys (I am bad a locking myself out of things), emergency instructions for survival situations (pocket-sized) along with the usual ID, cash, bank/gift cards. It is an evolving work in progress & a personal challenge to see how small I can keep it. :)

  39. Enjoyed the article. need a portable filter. Have a large home made filter made from 2 buckets and two ceramic candles.

  40. I’ve purchased a 375 gallon plastic tank several years ago and captured rainwater into a gutter and collect it. I used the water in my garden mostly but have boiled some for drinking and a couple of drops of bleach per gallon. I’d like to save that time processing some of that water for consumption. This is a great time-saving product that I could depend on for good, clean, and safe drinking water.

  41. I always have my portable Berkey on hand when I travel and use it to purify the hotel water and refill my thermos and were good to go.

  42. Besides our Berkeys, we have an electric ionic pH water machine that connects to our pipes under the sink, with extra filters.

  43. Great article,I’m brand new to the idea of survival but,have to say this article has helped me to start planning.Worst case nothing happens and can use this to take family for the first time camping.

  44. Unfortunately I dont have a portable water purification unit we have a small homemade filter, for home made with a berkey type of filter, as it was all we could afford. Please enter us into the drawing for a lifestraw, for myself & grandkids.

  45. for the most common emergencies, the item I have used the most is my smartphone. with it, I’ve found gas stations, food, lodging and ATM’s in unfamiliar places, called for roadside assistance, checked in with loved ones after earthquakes, been automatically notified of safety threats in my workplace, managed my budget and paid bills to avoid financial crises, and passed my free time reading tons of blogs like this one.

    I know there are tons of bigger emergencies that would render my phone useless, but so far, it’s kept me out of or gotten me out of most of the crises that happen in everyday life.

  46. I carry a Buck Whittaker Pocket knife.
    I have a need for a portable source (The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter)for my BoB It weighs enough with only 1 Gallon of water in it currently.

  47. my EDC is my lighter..if i have that, i can make fire…if i have fire, i can find water to boil, i can keep warm, i can signal for help…if i had a Life straw, it would be even better…lol :)

  48. My edc has a knife and a compass. I’ve even used the compass in an urban setting, to orient myself on a map so I don’t emerge from a subway looking like a TOURIST (aka prey). I can head off in relatively the correct direction that I want without hesitation. Later pick a safe place to study the map further.

  49. I’m new to prepping and have found many valuable articles here on your site, and I’m now following you on Twitter so as not to miss new ones. We have an artesian well and live near several bodies of water, about 55 miles NW of Boston, so we’re in a pretty rural area. We’re unlikely to ‘bug out’ if something big happens, but we are just beginning to stock up on survival necessities. I’d like to have the Lifestraw for my one-year-old grandson, who lives with us (with this parents), as it’s really important to have access to the purest water for him.

  50. This year my hub and I have added a lot to being prepared for the time and resources we have. My hub works many hours(salary of course) and is going to school full time. We have my daughter’s family and her boxers living and I care for her 4 children as well as my own. So aspirin, Tylenol and motrin are additions to my purse.We have made huge steps for our resources this year. It’s already looking bleak for next few years but even if we take baby steps forward,we will try.

  51. Water being such a basic necessity, I have the most redundancy in this part of my preps. After this, then fire. I can test, boil, diy berkey filter, diy sand filter, diy soda bottle solar purifier, store bought filters/purifiers (several) purifying tablets,(several), bandanas, long term storage of water, 4-way sill cock key, fire hydrant wrench. Have not made a solar still yet. Have not set up rain catchment yet.

  52. Great article! Thanks. I have a pool in the yard and still fill up bottles. No one in the family agrees but I don’t want my wife or daughter and 3 grand kids not having clean water. I also have a Sawyer water filter that is good for 1 million gallons. Thanks again!

  53. I always carry a knife of some kind. Usually my Benchmade. But sometimes the Schrade, or one of several smaller pocket knives. And a Leatherman! Cash in small bills.

  54. My EDC item is my pocket knife. I am seldom more than 10 to 15 miles from home and if I go farther I take my bob.

  55. I’m here for the Lifestraw giveaway. I need a portable water purification method other than just bottled water. It’s on my prep list.

  56. Okay, well, I use boiling, Katadyn tabs and a Frontier Emergency straw. For the house, I have both self-bottled water using half gallon juice bottles and bleach that is purchased new every six months.

  57. I don’t have a portable water filtration system and have been researching what is out there to try to make the right choices. THANK YOU GAYE…you’ve really helped me with the information you are providing!! Please enter me in your drawing for a lifestraw

  58. A comment and a question
    The comment, although I read this article previously I am here for an entry into the LifeStraw contest. I currently only have Brita products for at home use. I plan on making a DIY filter and purifier soon, but where I live now it is not feasible for some of my projects.
    The question, I seem to remember having read that bleach or chlorine can be dangerous, more so in larger quantities, but also cumulative. Would using peroxide be an exceptable alternative, as I know I’ve read that in many instances it is as good as and safer then chlorine for cleaning and disinfecting.

    • You can safely remove the chlorine from your stored water by exposing the water , uncovered, to the air for a minimum of 24 hours. I recommend using 1 gallon containers to do this, as I do not have accurate information on how long it would take to dissipate into the air from larger containers.
      Vinegar can “purify” drinking water, as it kills most bacteria, viruses, cysts, and parasites; but the taste takes some getting used to, and I am not certain how it would work for long term storage.

    • I’m posting this because the myth of what chlorine does still persists.
      I use vinegar since it’s an antibacterial. Due to the toxic poisoning of a river back east, do your research to find what will work best for different situations. I do use a filter for my home and have extra filters, but I’m in the process of learning how to distill water since that’s the only method I’ve found which provides good water w/o the complications. No, I won’t use chlorine, if it destroys the environment, I don’t need it.I’ll use what i have for the last 8 years, vinegar and baking soda and/or borax.

      University Study Discovers Bleach is Ineffective at Killing Mold on Wood and Other Porous Surfaces.
      “While bleach is often recommended for remediation of surface mold on wood and other porous surfaces, our [university research study] study results illustrate that the treatment does not eliminate the surface microflora,” is the conclusion of the Oregon State University study of the effects of chlorine bleach on mold growth on Douglas fir wood [an important timber crop in the state of Oregon]. The research study was conducted by Professor Jeffrey Morrell, Dept. of Wood Science, Oregon State University, as assisted by Adam Taylor [graduate research assistant] and Camille Freitag [Senior Research Associate], as published in Forest Products Journal, 54:4, 2004.”

  59. I can usually find or make most anything but I live in the desert and have to drive 60 miles to work so my number one “edc” is water. Instead of using bottled water or gallon jugs for emergencies I keep an old GI issue belt with four canteens in the trunk of the car. Much easier to carry and keeps my hands free for other things.

  60. Hello Gaye,
    Thanks for the great review of the Lifestraw. For us “preppers-come-lately”, I think this item is probably the best place to start, especially if one is working with a tight budget, as I am. If I had to pick one other item, it would be a good poncho. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and as important as water is, an inability to stay dry creates all kinds of issues as well.

    Be blessed!
    ~ Mark

  61. My purse is loaded with some basic tools along with a small LED flashlight as something always needs fixing in the car or elsewhere. Never leave home without tools. My weak area in prepping is with water and the collection method right now is rain water. Thanks for all your great tips. Yours is the first site I go to every day.
    Please enter me me in your drawing for Life Straw Water Filter.


  62. Using a bucket with layers of sand and activated carbon. Make a hole in the bottom and there you have a great water filter with minimal cost. Not as easy to carry than the LifeStraw… would be nice to have!

    • This is a good way to clean up rain water that has been collected and stored.
      I would boil the water (or distill it) after filtering it before using it for drinking or cooking to kill bacteria, viruses, cysts and parasites that might make it through the sand/carbon filter.
      The filter you describe works well for cleaning up water, but the activated carbon will eventually begin to develop bacterial growth after continuous use.
      Sometimes flushing this type of filter with salt water will kill off anything growing in it (then flushing the salt out with clean water until there is no salty taste) will work, too, and save the hassle of replacing the carbon.

  63. Water is #1 in my book, I always carry a bottle of water no matter where I go. I also carry pepper spray, mini flashlight, aspirin and when I find a small glass bottle I plan to carry collidal silver just in case I’m stuck somewhere and start feeling sick. And everyone needs a lifestraw to carry at all times.

  64. The most important EDC item is my brain; without critical thinking abilities and survival skills, all the rest is worth very little. Of course, I also carry a Leatherman Micra multi-tool and a Streamlight Strion light; no sense in starting from scratch in each situation.

  65. I’m new to this forum____ and to prepping. Enjoy your articles and am beginning to assemble some survival gear, food, etc. Look forward to your ongoing articles. Thanks.

  66. Just started prepping, so I don’t really have a EDC item other than my buck knife. I would like to win a lifeStraw.

  67. a comment on your very informative article about water: i suggest that if you buy bottled water for storage, only buy the ones made of clear plastic. the translucent ones tend to leak after a few months in my experience.
    about the silver thing…i read a story by a vet who served in either korea or vietnam. he said his group would fill a bucket with river water, throw in a silver dollar, and by morning the water would be safe to drink. has anyone else heard anything like that? i wonder if that method holds water (sorry).

  68. I carry my .380 bodyguard with two clips at all times. I don’t want to have to use it but if TSHTF, I could take your knife, life straw, food, water, or whatever else is your number one carry item. I can hit you from 50 yards. I don’t want to have to do this,but if my family is on the line… Too bad for you. You should have carried a gun too. If I am more than an hour from home, I will also have a collabsable KelTec .40 sub2000 rifle with 99 rounds (3 33 round mags). You will die from 200 yards out… And I will have your gear. Again, I am not a bad kind of guy, but I will do what needs done when it is time. I pray we are not put in such a situation. My last thought on the need to carry a gun is this… You are WAY more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than the subject of a post apocalyptic event. I have a toolbox in the bed of my truck that has every tool conceivable, and I always carry a pocket knife. All of the tools and knife are for convenience. The gun is for when things turn south and the crap actually his the fan. Nothing trumps a gun for an average citizen.

    • Right on Keith.
      I hardly go over 50 miles from home. I do carry a small pocket knife, but I don’t see a great need for a knife when I am within 50 miles from home. I suppose if I was in a traffic accident and needed to cut my seat belt, but think of all the possible needs to be carry a weapon that goes “boom”. Don’t leave home without it..

    • You’re not a bad kind of guy? To me you are the epitome of what’s wrong with this world. Too many willing to take from those that work with no effort on their own part. Yes I carry a gun. I carry a gun to protect myself from your “kind of guy”, not to take from others the way you seem to think is acceptable. Maybe you should spend as much time thinking about how to be self-sufficient for your family as planning on how to take from mine…before someone with a bigger gun leaves your family to fend for themselves.

      • Thanks for making my point Kris. I can’t imagine myself ever doing something like that, and I have been busy preparing. My point is, what about all the people who would? When confronted by them, would you rather have a straw or a rifle? I am going with the rifle.

  69. We usually only have a substantial tool bag and a small amount of water with us in the car. At home, we have a number of water storage and purification methods collected. We recently bought 2 of the LifeStraws,but have them with our at home collection of bug-out supplies. Think we should really be carrying another of the LifeStraws with us — at least one in each car. Maybe we can win one of them! Really enjoy your site/articles!

  70. Since I’m a stay-at-home mom mostly driving around town & w/the kids, I typically keep a bin in my van at all times that includes some basics – mylar blankets, matches, energy bars, small tools, sanitizer, etc. I would say the most important item, though is water.

    At home, I keep fresh bleach, a Katadyn filter, cases of bottled water, dozens of frozen 2-liter bottles that I filled, and a 55-gal drum for the garden which I could purify in a pinch. My “weak link” is something more portable, so I’d LOVE to have the LifeStraw!

  71. I am excited to learn all I can and this article on Water The Basic Survival was excellent. I hope to be put in the “mix” to win the Life Straw Personal Walter filter. It sound amazing.

  72. Some would say water. Others would say a gun. I don’t disagree with those. But what I find myself with most of the time is my pocket knife and phone. I use both every day. The phone I would say is almost more important as long as cell towers are still working. It can not only contact people but also act as a GPS locator so loved ones can find you. As long as the battery is not dead and there is signal. Now if there is an active shooter then I would rather take my gun to a gun fight than my phone and knife.

  73. Hello, I am new to your site, which you may have noticed lately has added some extra traffic to your posts. I have seen several signs of a coming economic collapse in the past several years, but have only recently begun to prep in earnest.
    I have a couple of questions, if you don’t mind. The first has to do with water that is outdated. Can that be kept in the same bottles, and used safely for things like flushing? I thought I’d separate them from the rest of the bottles as they become outdated, label the as “other,” or something like that, and use them in the future for uses not pertaining to consumption or cooking.
    My second question is about storing things like rice. I just bought two small bags of rice, as I don’t really know how to properly remove air from a container and keep it safe for future use. Could you explain in detail, if you wouldn’t mind?
    I am the only prepper in my family, and have to think of five to eight people, depending on whether some other family members suddenly show up. My youngest child has high-functioning Autism, so his diet is minimal. He currently eats things like plain rice cakes with organic peanut butter, “Natural” hot dogs, and things like pop tarts. I have to think of him the most, but the group as a whole. I would appreciate your help and advice, or even that of other readers.

  74. To me shelter is first followed closely by potable water. Another great giveaway, thanks for the opportunity to win an extremely useful prize. Good luck everyone.

  75. I have a UV light water purification device thats excellent.BUT it relies on batteries and if going into the woods or hiking or planning to be out & about for an extended period, you better have extra batteries. Or better yet use rechargeable batteries that receive their charge from a solar charging device. I also have a water bottle that uses a filtering device. But if the water is exceptionally dirty be sure to first run it through a bandana to remove large particles. Then perhaps a ceramic filter like a Katadin or one of these UV light filters.
    But regardless of what filter or combination of filters you decide to use be certain you have a means of making water potable. It’s the most important element of survival.

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