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Even in densely packed urban areas, there are often many secondary sources of emergency water. Remember, however, that all water is suspect until it has been disinfected.

If the last two years have taught us anything, it is that absolutely anything is possible. Events and circumstances that were previously unimaginable have now become commonplace. I won’t elaborate since my goal is to provide information and to encourage folks to plan, not to kick up a hornet’s nest. But, the lesson is clear – Be Prepared! 

Knowing this and not knowing what else might come our way, preparedness is quickly becoming a “front-burner” priority for many people who previously never even considered storing an extra can of tuna. And topping the list of necessary preparations is water. 

An RV/Marine water filter can be used, as an extra precaution, to filter the water used to fill your drums.

Suppose the public water supply stops flowing or is somehow compromised. In that case, you’ll need emergency water stores, secondary sources of water, and the knowledge, skills, and supplies to make suspect water safe to drink. 

This article discusses emergency water storage, how to secure secondary sources, and finally, how to purify/sanitize water to help avoid illness and other health-related complications.

Fifty-five (55) gallon drums are a very effective way to store emergency water. Use only “BPA-Free” “water safe” designated drums, and treat, mark and date your drums.

Emergency Water Preps

Water is one of the highest survival priorities, usually second only to security and self-defense. Why not first? Because if you’re dead or seriously injured, it really won’t matter how much water you may have. Security and self-defense will always be job one. But, once you have addressed the immediate danger to life and limb, your thoughts should immediately turn to water. And even though people say you can survive for three days without water, it’s really only two. After no water for two full days, you may still be alive, but you won’t be much good to yourself or anybody else; you’ll be as good as dead. You may face challenging circumstances during a disaster with limited options. You should plan for a minimum of 2 gallons per person per day for drinking, with no less than a 30-day supply. 

Secondary Sources – Is It Safe? 

Worldwide, dirty water causes the death of a person every 10 seconds. While these statistics reflect conditions in mostly undeveloped countries, people in developed countries can also fall victim to “dirty” water, especially during natural or manmade disasters/crises. 

The problem is that “dirty” water is not always dirty. Even crystal clear water may contain waterborne pathogens that can make you extremely sick. People in the U.S., and other developed countries, drink water directly from the faucet – this is so normal for us, and many people never stop to think of all the steps necessary to treat water before it reaches their home.

During a crisis, however, it’s essential to consider all water as suspect until it has been properly disinfected, even tap water. (Never use untreated water to brush your teeth, prepare food, wash cooking/eating utensils, or to bathe.) 

Make sure to have a barrel wrench, a siphon hose/water pump, and water storage treatment solution.

How to Pre-Filter & Treat Water

Allow suspect water to sit undisturbed for at least 30 minutes so that any sediments can settle at the bottom of the container. Run this water through a clean cotton cloth or clean coffee filters to remove any additional debris. Repeat as necessary until the water runs clear. Only then should you disinfect it, with chemicals or by filtering it. (Never use a container that held contaminated water to store disinfected water.)


Five Ways to Disinfect Suspect Water

Clear water can be made safe to drink by:

    • HEAT—Boil water for at least two minutes, cool, and consume.
    • CHEMICALS (Bleach) — Two to four drops of (unscented) household beach for each U.S. quart, let it stand for at least one hour.
    • CHEMICALS (Iodine) — Five to ten drops of 2% solution iodine, for each U.S. quart, let it stand for at least one hour before consuming.
    • SOLAR RADIATION — Pour water into a disinfected, clear plastic, 2-liter container and place it in direct sunlight for a minimum of 7-8 hours.
    • FILTERING— Quality water filters will remove bacteria, parasites, and viruses. (Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular filter.) If you have any doubts, treat your water with chemical disinfectants first, then filter it.

(Note: None of these methods will remove toxins, pollutants, or other contaminants/chemicals. For example, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and other organic and inorganic substances.) 


Use a “drinking water safe” hose to fill your water containers. (Made with FDA-approved materials that are safe for drinking water.) This simple set-up makes it easy to filter the water as you fill your containers.


Storing fresh water and securing secondary sources, along with the crucial supplies, knowledge, and skills to sanitize suspect water, is essential to any survival plan. Stored water should comprise a large portion of your “go-to” emergency water supply, but you also need access to alternative water sources and the ability to disinfect suspect water. Make your water preparations now while there is time, and viable options are still readily available.

About The Author

Richard is a practicing attorney, an urban survival consultant, writer, firearms enthusiast, and freedom-loving American patriot. He’s the author of Surviving Doomsday: A Guide for Surviving an Urban Disaster, and The Quick Start Guide for Urban Preparedness. Richard’s books are available at Amazon and other fine retailers. You can connect with Richard on Twitter @SurvivingDoomsd 


The materials provided are for illustration and/or informational purposes only. Any use of the information contained in this article shall be solely at the reader’s risk.