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Water Challenge: One Gallon of Water for One Day

Similar to other emergency drills practiced for earthquakes, fires, and tornadoes, this drill is intended to familiarize your family with a difficult situation. They may also become more confident and prepared to deal with other challenges that could arise. Use wisdom and caution when trying out this challenge. Keep members of your family well hydrated and it will be a good experience for everyone.

The Challenge

Consider living at least 24 hours with only one gallon of stored water per family member per day. For example: a family of four would need to live off of 4 gallons of water for a 24 hour period.

You may be thinking this will be easy. Anyone can go without cooking or extensive cleaning for 24 hours. You can expect that your children will have no problem drinking less than a gallon of water per day. However, consider average water usage in non-emergency situations. (Pic)

Water Challenge: One Gallon of Water for One Day

When you begin to consider sanitation, cooking, and washing clothes you'll notice that one gallon of water is an absolute minimum.

After completing this challenge you may want to take some time to evaluate what occurred and re-evaluate your family's preparedness plans. Were the proper tools available to cope with limited water use? Would one gallon of water per person per day be sufficient for your family? Most recommendations are for 2-5 gallons of water per person per day in an emergency. Spend some time discussing the results with your family and adjust your plans accordingly.



21 thoughts on “Water Challenge: One Gallon of Water for One Day”

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this reminder of how much of this precious resource we use and the challenge of one gallon of water for one day !!! I really do think I'd better work on this !

  • amanda

    That really is a challenge, and a great reminder to think carefully about this part of emergency planning and storage. Thanks for the info.

  • Mrzitro

    Great reminder. Give us some more challenges. "The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle".

  • Michelle

    We actually got to experience this recently on a camping trip. I would highly encourage people to look into adding no rinse camp shampoo (or the no rinse shampoo caps they use in hospitals for patients restricted to bed rest), moist towelettes or baby wipes and hand sanitizer to their emergency kits. They go a long way to helping you cope without your normal shower routine.Thanks for all the challenge suggestions to help keep us on our toes with our emergency preparations. :)

  • gourmetgrandma

    our water company turns off the water on a regular basis. There is always a broken pipe or a pipe that needs to be flushed out. I keep 12 gallon jugs of water at all times. It doesn't take long to go thru them, especially as often as I wash my hands. Friends & family think I am a bit off my rocker because I store water & stock pile food, but they have all come to me for both more than once.I love the dehydrated foods from Emergency Essentials & the dehydrated milk. They make life a little easier knowing I can still prepare food & drinks in a pinch.

  • chazzers1705

    Thanks For reminding us that water needs to be conserved. I never thought about how much is wasted waiting for the hot water or when watering at the wrong time of day. Tank you.

  • ladyp

    in the winter of 2006 we actually learned about water misery, lack of:( as we were snowed in for over 3 weeks and we ran out of water in our cistern that gave water for everythingthat meant we went without wateri melted snow to wash dishes and boiled it to put through our water filter to drink; we learned a lot that winter and that is water is highly under-rated and people are not thankful enough for it

  • Nikki

    Very good idea an thanks for the tips from other commenters

  • PreppingToSurvive

    Nice post and good idea. Water is for most people a commodity these days. We can have a much as we want for a very reasonable price. But that may not always be the case. As with other things, practicing ahead of time helps you to prepare for when you really need the skills/knowledge. The average person needs to consume about 2 liters of water per day to survive. This of course varies depending on environment, exertion, etc. Joe

  • Sue Kirk

    The gallon of water for brushing teeth was an eye-opener. How often do we leave the water run while brushing? After spending a week at a cabin where we had to haul water from the creek, I learned to use a cup of water for rinsing and for rinsing my tooth brush. Little things make a big difference.

  • l j hanley

    since the water shortages of the 1970 i still use only 4-6 ounces of water to brush my teeth. run the water in a cup. dip the bruch inthe cup. brush teeth swish water in mouth to rinse twice use remaining water to rinse toothbrush. try it. if its yellow let it mellow if its bronw send it doen. paper in trash can. low flow toielts in my house 1 gallon to flush urine once a day 2 gallons to flush poo as necessary. 4 loads of laundry per month 200 gallons max. dishes in dishwasher wiped/scraped as needed before placing in dishwasher not rinsed. use dishwassher 1X per week. wash face hands and puff a buff 2 quarts per day. the keey here is clean wash cloth use to clean private aea last then toss in hamper for weekly laundering. including showers etc i can get by oon about 500 gallons or less per month. and if i had to i'd opt for only hand and face washing and use the water for hydration. survival. jumpe inthe river to wash me and clothes. btw i am 70 widow alone no friends or family on this mt. thankf for allowing my post. one more thing...........the definititon of survival......use itup...wear it out....make it do....or do without! works for me.

  • jyd

    some other useful ideas I've run across over the years....
    Invest in a 1lb bag of pool shock for water treatment. One bag could treat about 5000 gallons of water. Buy the generic version of CLorox wipes (think dollar store) for hygiene/face/hands/etc (you'll be fine doing this). Local volunteer FD will have aux power and an open source for water to residents (at least mine does when power goes out for any length of time). FInally, not a bad idea to find a friend or two with a running stream in yard. I have a 4 season stream and friends use it everytime we're down.

  • Miss Sam

    We have our share of storms here in the North East & I was raised to always be prepared. Thankfully, I have a river nearby, We use little water ourselves on a regular basis, but having a small farm poses problems. The ducks alone use 4 gallons of water a day. Thankfully, with storms being normal, we get to test our skills, maybe too regularly! Thanks for sharing, it's always good to remind people to be prepared & aware.

  • Joan

    spent 6 weeks (one at a time) in Haiti after the earthquake - minimal water in 100 degree weather: that was a life altering experience. Learned to brush my teeth with 3 swishes of water and wash up with very little; rinsed out my clothes in a small basin. I'll never take water for granted again

  • Ed K

    Here is a real challenge

    Turn off ALL utilities, tape the frig door shut for a weekend,DON,T GO OUT and cheat

  • Mary S.

    We just spent a week dealing with a slab leak and having to turn our water off and then on when we needed it... it wasn't fun I can tell you that. I suppose if we had gone through a plumber and not our contractor son (free work) we could have gotten back on our water faster but it was free work so didn't look that gift horse in the mouth. But being only on bottle water for two weeks, and buckets filled with water for flushing, and taking a two minute fast shower was NOT fun. you had better be prepared "seriously" take the challenge and see what it takes to just get through the day. marys

  • Armadillojoe

    When I saw the lead about water, and it included flushing toilets! I knew there was a lot people will not know how to cope. If it is 72 hrs, it will be fun for those who prepared. If it is 30 days or longer, it will be catastrophic. Water supplies are going to be great but you cannot store enough water, You will be faced with supply and purification methods.
    Natural disasters will be most likely limited geography and resources will flow from all around into the needed areas. Joplin, MO taught us that. Katrina, on the other hand, had a much worse situation because of geography and incompetent politicians, not really the fault of the Government when the local politics are still in charge.
    So, in preparation for the future it is probably wise to think minimum of 30 day survival and build for more if you can. If you survive the first month your chances for long term are good.
    It will be hard to store water for very many people for that length of time. Being resourceful will be necessary. It will depend on discipline and other factors like, time of year.
    I also notice that no one mentions protecting your territory from others who did not plan ahead and will be wanting what you have. Your preparations never mention this critical obstacle. There will be many who will be willing to take yours. Hungry, starving people will be unpredictable and dangerous. What do you plan to do in that case?
    Sharing sounds very nice, but if the Electric Grid is lost. You may be looking at up to a year before limited restoration of services. Without that electricity we will experience life as if we were camping again, only we won't be going home to take a hot shower and wash our clothes.
    Water and electricity are connected, just like gasoline and electricity. Think pumps and supply lines.
    Water is both a short-term and long-term problem. It will take good planning to prepare for both aspects.

  • Dawn

    Living in a hurricane prone in addition to a remote location has forced us to have to live with only the provisions that we hadstored immediately prior to the event. I was proud to be able to completely bathe and wash my hair with under a gallon of water. To have only that amount for everything would be a tough but nec
    essary call

  • bumpkin

    Its absolutely miserable to have to do it, too. I have to do it about once a year. But, it can be done, so long as you are not phobic about being less than clean. Also, A teacup bath, when you are out of water, is super-welcome,, but desperately inadequate. Store baby wipes, sanitizer, along with the water, to maximize it. Never toss out the liquid in canned fruits or vegs if on rations. Green Bean water is usable for handwashing, if you cant imagine drinking it or if the beans are too salty. You get the point. It takes about a gallon of water daily just to keep me hydrated. I get cranky when I have to conserve. And avoid coffees, teas, soft drinks, gatorade, and other diuretic-type drinks when on rations if you dont have them im a separate bottle- ir=e, if you are using that gallon to make them, just dont. They actually dehydrate you to some degree. Ok, DO split a cup of instant coffee with someone, if you are a coffee drinker, because a caffeine headache is killer when everything is out of kilter. And even if you think water will be restored tomorrow, DO NOT forego creating your water reclamation setup. Do whatever you planned to get water, even if the utility co or the government or whomever makes you promises, say they will have water to you tomorrow. DONT count on it! set up your collection system, just in case. Just a few thoughts... from one who's' done it repeatedly. -And, any time you plan to purchase property out in the country, BEFORE you decide its the correct piece of property for you, talk to the neighbors, even if they live a mile away. The homes and acreage on a piece of land near us is up for sale (again) and I expect that the realtor does NOT tell the lookers that the homes run out of water every summer, or that they have to buy or haul water to even do laundry, let alone gardening, in the hottest part of the year. The wells there are GREAT the rest of the year. Ask the neighbors! Good luck, everyone!



  • Linda Sand

    When I moved into a conversion van I bought a lot of washcloths. Wet one once a day and use it to scrub your entire body; you will feel clean without using much water. If you have short hair you can include it in this scrub down but long hair will require more water.

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