Where to find water, in a survival situation

As the human body is 70 percent water, we are only ever a few days away from dying of thirst. In a survival situation, whether an urban or wild situation, there is a need to be able to find water.

Urban Water Supplies

In an urban setting, there will initially be numerous sources available, although they may soon run out.

It is recommended, that in the event of an urban disaster, quickly filling a bath, pots and other storage containers with fresh water, will provide water for a few days. If possible, disconnect your mains water supply, this will limit water contamination to your

house. Your hot water tank, if not contaminated, can be used as a water supply, by draining your hot water, and also your cold water pipes using gravity.

Depending on bottled water, available in local supermarkets and shops, will not really be a sensible option, as there will be more demand, than available supplies. Some domestic houses may have rain water collection tanks, which may be able to give some relief. Also, in a longer term situation, you may be able get water from commercial buildings, by using a valve tool to access available taps, if it is safe to venture outside.

Rural or Wild Supplies

Finding water in nature may be easier than in an urban situation, provided you know

where to look, and are able to purify any water that is found. Obvious water sources are rivers and streams, and lakes. Running water is best. If water is taken from standing or stagnant water, ensure it is treated adequately.

Lush vegetation is usually an indicator that a water course or source is nearby. The water course, may not be obvious and may even be underground. Lush vegetation can also provide water by using transpiration methods to obtain water.

Swarming insects, like flies and mosquitoes, can indicate a nearby water source. Pond edges, muddy puddles and damp rocks, branches and vegetation are all places that bees use for water sources. People are also able to draw water from similar sources in an emergency.

Grain and seed eating birds need water. By watching these birds around sunset, you can be guided towards a water source. When the birds are low flying and swift, they are headed for water. Birds tend to fly in a manner to avoid predators when they are full and heavy. Look for birds ducking from tree to tree returning.

Insect Swarm
Grain eating birds

Muddy ground and wet sand can also be indicators of ground water sources. By digging a hole in the ground, about 30cm in diameter and depth, and allowing it to fill, should provide a source of water which, after filtration and purification will be drinkable.

There are other methods of finding water, especially within arid environments, these techniques are more complicated, and their yields are often quite small. Some of these approaches, require being in one location throughout the day, and may be weather dependent.

Solar Still


Although this article describes possible locations and methods of finding water, in a wild or emergency situation. All water should be treated before use. Treatments may include filtration, purification and chemical processes.

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