Search results for: 'water-storage'

  • California Rainstorms Bring Flooding, Mudslides

    California Rainstorms Bring Flooding, Mudslides

    It’s been a tough water year for California. We’ve talked about the drought pretty extensively here on the blog, as well as some surprising effects it has had, like increasing rattlesnake populations in residential areas—in addition to the expected effects, like increasing food costs, more frequent and damaging wildfires (see here and here), and skyrocketing prices at water auctions.

    California started getting much-needed water last week, but it’s coming in a series of downpours that have flooded streets, caused mudslides that overtook homes and stranded motorists on the Pacific Coast Highway (a portion of the PCH is even shut down completely for 3-4 weeks because of the damage), and temporarily cut power to around 100,000 customers in the Bay Area. There was even a small tornado in south L.A. that blew the roof off one home.

    Just this month (1st-15th) it has rained 9.14 inches in San Francisco—compared to 2.08 inches that fell in almost six months last year (July 1 to Dec 15th). The ground just can’t absorb the water at the rate it’s falling, which leads to the mudslides and severe flooding that happened this week. Evacuations have taken place in several Southern California communities, and more will happen if the rain continues at these rates.

    A heavy storm is expected to come into Southern California Tuesday afternoon, leading to concern over more possible mudslides and flood damage. Northern California can expect rain and snow until Wednesday.

    Many California residents are unprepared for power outages, evacuations, and flooding—while others are ready, having prepared in advance for just these types of emergencies, with survival kits, family evacuation plans, and emergency gear they can rely on during the storms.

    Instagram user @annettecardwell posted this photo on December 10th with the caption “House is sand bagged, hatches are battened, fireplace is roaring. Ready for #hellastorm”



    House is sand bagged, hatches are battened, fireplace is roaring. Ready for #hellastorm


    A photo posted by Annette Cardwell (@annettecardwell) on

    Google brought their sense of humor—and a raft—along for the ride… because you never know.

    Twitter user @dwnydaisy seemed all set to go the day the storms hit.

    Unfortunately, there were also a lot of messages like this one from Twitter user @krisellelaran, who thinks Californians aren’t well prepared.

    Some California residents even had to evacuate because the storm downed power lines onto their homes.

    Being prepared doesn't always mean you get to stay home, or that there isn't damage to your property, but it does mean there’s less to worry about in a crisis.

    To prepare for heavy storms that cause power outages and evacuations:

    • Get an emergency kit for everyone in your household.
    • Buy or build a power outage kit for your home—you’ll appreciate having it during short outages where you get to stay home, as well as serious storms that require evacuation.
    • Develop a household or family emergency and evacuation plan.
    • Build up a supply of food storage and water storage you can rely on in long-term emergencies as well as short-term crises that last just a few days or weeks.
    • Research and develop important skills you can rely on for communication or survival.

    Prepare in advance, and you'll be ready for the next #rainpocalyspe or #hellastorm that comes your way.




    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, rainstorm, Current Events, flood

  • Preparedness in the News: 5 Things to Know this Week (12-6-14)

    Super Typhoon Hagupit_6Dec2014 Super Typhoon Hagupit made landfall in the Phillippines. 650,000 evacuated.


    Here are five need-to-know news stories in the world of emergency preparedness for the week of November 30-December 5.

    1. Super Typhoon Hagupit makes landfall in the Philippines

    Super Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby) is considered a "very strong" typhoon, equivalent to a category 2 hurricane. Over 650,000 have been evacuated. Read the latest at

    For information on Hurricane (Typhoon) Preparedness, check out our 5-part mini series on the subject:


    2. American possibly exposed to Ebola being transferred to Atlanta hospital

    A U.S. healthcare worker working in West Africa who was possibly exposed to the Ebola virus is being transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which treated the first two Americans who contracted Ebola while working in West Africa. Read the latest at

    Learn more about protecting yourself and your family from Ebola from the CDC.


    3. Winter crisis in Far East Russia causes state of emergency

    Russia’s Far East has received the heaviest snowfall in decades, causing a state of emergency and the need for military aid to dig its citizens out of trouble, which includes heavy traffic, slide-offs, power outages and food shortages. On the bright side, the storms cleared pollution in Moscow. Read more at

    Be ready for winter storms by brushing up on your winter driving skills, reviewing these winter survival tips, and snagging any gear you may need to stay warm.


    4. It finally rained in California – but not enough

    After months of drought conditions, Tuesday’s rainstorm brought hope to Californians. 24 hours brought 1.5 inches of rain to the Bay Area and Los Angeles, breaking rainfall records in Southern California. Unfortunately, the storm was not enough to end the 3-season deficit. Read more at

    Be as prepared for a drought as possible. Store water before the crisis hits, and practice conservation both before and during a drought to get the most out of the water that is available.


    5. Michigan provides emergency preparedness app

    The Michigan Department of Community Health has developed a smart phone app to help residents to plan for emergencies. The app provides emergency contact and health information, and gives users the ability to create, manage and export emergency plans right from their mobile devices. Read more at


    More Headlines From Around the Globe:

    One critically injured in West Jordan car fire
    Chile: Mega volcano field 'could trigger eruption 100 times larger than Mt St Helens'
    Evacuations in Cape Verde after volcano erupts
    'Emergency repair' reported at Ukraine nuclear power plant
    Plane makes emergency landing on I-575 in Canton


    Some of these stories are scary realities, and some of them are hypotheticals (like the Chile mega volcano). We share them to help you think of possible scenarios that you may need to prepare for based on your location and your family's needs. We hope they help in your efforts to prepare.

    Any additional stories from this week you think others should know about?

    -- Caroline

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, Current Events

  • 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways! (Winners Announced!)

    |117 COMMENT(S)


    It's time for the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways for 2014! Our theme this year is the Christmas song "The 12 Days of Christmas," and features original artwork by our in-house illustrator, Nate!

    Check back every day for the announcement of a new prize and a chance to get extra entries—you can do some of the entry methods (like tweeting and sharing on Pinterest) every day of the contest to increase your chances of winning. You can also refer friends through social links for bonus entries! The contest runs from today until 11:59 p.m. on December 18th. We'll announce all 12 winners on the December 19th.

    Good luck! I hope you win!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway


    On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... a partridge in a pear tree.

    12 Days of Christmas - A Partridge in a Pear Tree

    Win a case of MRE Pears ($180 value)! Eat them now (they're actually really tasty and a great snack or side dish) or hang on to them as part of your food storage.

    If you're new to preparedness or food storage, you can learn more about MREs right here (scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the grey bar that says "Everything You Need to Know About MREs").

    MRE Diced Pears


    On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... two turtle doves.

    12 Days of Christmas Giveaway - Day Two - 2 Turtle Doves

    Two large cans of Freeze-Dried Turkey ($119 value)! Freeze-dried meat is a breeze to work with. Just add hot or boiling water to the amount of turkey you need, and in minutes it's ready to eat or use in a recipe. Trust me, you'll love it.

    We have a handful of turkey recipes you can try out—and, of course, you can always substitute turkey into any of our chicken recipes. Have fun exploring the possibilities and testing recipes to see what you and your family love.

    Freeze-dried turkey breast strips


    On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... three French hens.

    day 3 small

    What better way to enjoy three French hens than in Chicken à la King? Yum! (Sorry, hens!)

    If you're the lucky winner of today's prize, you'll get three large cans of Mountain House Chicken à la King ($113 value) shipped right to your door. Bon appétit!

    Chicken a la King entree in a white bowl at a table setting



    On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... four calling birds.

    12 Days of Christmas Giveaways - Day 4 - Four Calling Birds

    Win a four-piece communications pack, which includes a mini radio, a Fox 40 whistle, an emergency signal mirror, and a Charger Emergency Hand Crank Flashlight. ($48 value)

    Mini Emergency RadioEmergency Signal Mirror with lanyard cordThe Charger Handcrank Emergency FlashlightFox 40 Classic Emergency Whistle


    On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Fiiiiiiive Golden Riiiiiiiiiings!

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day 5 - Five Golden Rings

    Win an Emergency Cooking Combo with "five golden rings" of fuel starting disks ($57 value). (Combo normally includes three fuel disks.)


    Emergency Cooking Combo


    On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Six Geese a-Laying.

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day 6 - Six Geese a-Laying

    Win a 6-piece food storage eggs pack (a $144 value)! You'll get one small can each of egg white powder, whole egg powder, and scrambled egg mix, plus one large can each of Emergency Essentials Scrambled Eggs with Sausage and Mountain House Scrambled Eggs with Ham and Red and Green Peppers. And to top it off, you'll get a copy of Peggy Layton's book Cookin' with Dried Eggs so you can become an emergency egg-cooking prodigy.

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day 6 - Six-piece cooking with eggs pack

    On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Seven Swans a-Swimming.

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day Seven - 7 Swans a-Swimming

    Win a 7-piece water storage combo (a $242 value)! You'll get a 55-gallon water barrel, an emergency siphon hose, a barrel buddy bung wrench, a pack of Aquamira water treatment, a Barrel Bag, a 5-gallon water jug, and an Aqua Pod! That gets you started on your stationary (barrel), portable (jug), and temporary water storage (Aqua Pod). Talk about "just add water!"

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day Seven - 7-Piece water storage pack


    On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Eight Maids a-Milking.

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day Eight - 8 Maids a-Milking

    Win eight small cans of our popular Nonfat Dry Milk! You choose: fortified, regular, or any combination of the two. ($52-54 Value!)

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day Eight - 8-can pack of dry milk (small cans)

    On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Nine Ladies Dancing!

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day  Nine - 9 Ladies Dancing

    Because Christmas dancing can also lead to Christmas injuries, our day 9 prize is a Medics First Aid kit ($111 value)—in case one of those dancing ladies sprains an ankle. This kit has over 175 items inside, including a copy of Wilderness & Travel Medicine: A Comprehensive Guide so you can handle unexpected sickness or injury when you can't get to a hospital.

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day Nine - Medics First Aid Kit

    On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Ten Lords a-Leaping!

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day  en - 10 Lords a-Leaping

    Win a Fire Escape Ladder! Because neither you nor your Ten Lords should have to leap out the window of a burning building.

    Use this instead to climb down from a second story window when other exits are blocked.

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day Ten - 10 Lords a-Leaping

    On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Eleven Pipers Piping!

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day  11 - 11 Pipers Piping

    Win a two-piece communications and music pack featuring a Kaito Voyager Pro radio and Goal Zero Rockout Speakers ($159 value). Stay connected in a crisis, and party like it's 1999 the rest of the year!

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day Eleven - 11 Pipers Piping

    And the last and final Day!

    On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Twelve Drummers Drumming!

    12 Days of Giveaways from Emergency Essentials - Day  12 - 12 Drummers Drumming

    Win our best prize of all! A 320-gallon Water Reserve combo! Instead of musical drums, we thought you might enjoy some huge water "drums" to store your family's water supply! The combo includes two 160-gallon water reserves (barrels, drums, tanks... whatever you call them, they're huge—and hugely awesome), 6 Aquamira water treatment packs, and a 50-foot  high-pressure drinking water hose.



    Learn more about the water reserve in this video:

    And be sure to do your daily entries! The giveaway closes tonight (12/18/14) at 11:59 p.m.—we'll announce the winners tomorrow, so check back near the end of the day to see if you won!

  • Don't Drink the Water: Lake Erie's Toxic Sludge

    |1 COMMENT(S)

    We’ve been posting quite a bit this year about water problems across the country, and most of the issues have been drought related. Need another reason to be extra thrifty with your water? Visit Toledo.

    According to NOAA, Lake Erie is in for its fourth consecutive year of higher-than-average incidence of toxic algal blooms. Blue-green algae may sound picturesque, but the slimy carpeting floating at the surface of infected lakes and seas can kill marine life—and wreak havoc on human bodies, as well. And algae doesn’t just mean a bummer day at the beach; Fox News points out that Lake Erie provides drinking water for much of that region, both in the US and Canada.

    These images from National Geographic show how really, ahem, eerie this phenomenon is around the world.

    Don't Drink the Water: Lake Erie's Toxic Sludge

    Photo Courtesy of National Geographic

    The state governments of Wisconsin and Florida have fact sheets available to clear up some of the misinformation about blue-green algae and help people avoid harm. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s page emphasizes the importance of keeping pets from playing in or consuming “icky-looking and smelly” (their words) water. And Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources strikes at one of the roots of the problem, cautioning residents against over-fertilization, since runoff feeds algae and leads to unnaturally aggressive growth.

    Besides vacationing somewhere other than the southwest shores of the Great Lakes, there are one or two things we can do to minimize our exposure to harmful algae. Check out the facts and tips in these water storage posts.

    Stay safe on the beach this summer, friends, and keep your drinking water clean and slime-free!



    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, Current Events, water

  • California's Liquid Gold: Drought Time Water Prices

     California's Liquid Gold: Drought Time Water Prices

    Not to beat a parched horse, but here’s an angle on the drought in the western US that we hadn’t considered. Turns out the shortage of water in California is making millionaires out of individuals and organizations with extra stores or claims to private sources.

    According to the AP, in an article titled, “In Dry California, Water Fetching Record Prices,” the price of water has increased by ten times in the last five years, reaching past $2000 per acre-foot. The resource is sold at auctions, with large farms and cities among the bidders. One private water storage district in Bakersfield wrangled in $13.5 million in a single transaction!

    One of the most interesting points in the article is the description of water banks—essentially massive, underground water storage facilities where surplus is banked in years of plenty. Kind of makes my rain barrel look a little paltry!

    On the other hand, if each of us took a page from California’s most prudent large-scale water storage facilities, maybe we’d be less dependent on the kinds of exorbitant transactions that grow out of desperate demand.

    For example, smart home water storage might help maintain a garden during a drought, easing the pain of increased produce costs at the grocery store—the inevitable trickle-down as farms pay through the nose to irrigate commercial crops. (Read about both of these ideas in our articles, “Your Drought Year Garden,” and “How Does the California Drought Affect Your Grocery List?”)

    In any case, it’s all a great reminder of the importance of preparation, storage, and self-sufficiency in times of disaster or scarcity.


    What has your experience been with droughts and the cost of food, water, or other resources?



    For more tips about water storage check out:

    45 Ways to Conserve Water

    Water Storage Overview

    Water Storage Options

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, California Drought, drought, Current Events

  • 20 Must-Have Supplies for a Hurricane

    |1 COMMENT(S)

    20 Must-have supplies for a Hurricane

    The National Weather Service states, “History teaches that a lack of hurricane preparedness and awareness are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. By knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.”

    When preparing for a hurricane, it’s important to not only be aware of warning signs and critical information about the storm itself, but also to know about the types of supplies you should have on-hand during the storm.

    The following list provides some basic preparedness supplies, as well as special items to help you face hurricane-specific challenges.

    Top 20 must-have supplies for a Hurricane

    1. Water: 1 gallon per person per day for 2 weeks. Don't forget water for cooking, cleaning, and your pets, as well as water purification and filtration supplies.

    •  Fact: According to those who experienced Hurricanes Wilma, Katrina, and Sandy the most important item to have during a Hurricane is water, which quickly sold out at grocery stores. If you live in an urban setting or small space, an Aquapod is a great place to store water before the storm hits.

    2. Food Storage: At least enough for 3 to 7 days. In addition to having non-perishable packaged or canned food, you’ll also want to have fuel to cook outdoors in case the power goes out.

    3. Solar Power:  If the power goes out, you can easily run a solar generator in your home without worrying  about propane, gasoline, or other flammable chemicals. Even having a small solar panel like a Nomad 7 to charge your cell phone or small electronics can go a long way in a power outage.

    •  Fact: During Hurricane Sandy, several residents discovered their solar panels didn’t restore their power. In fact, many residential panels are connected to the power grid; if the grid goes down, so do your panels. However, using portable solar panels can help you have a reliable source of electricity, when the power goes out. Check out Goal Zero’s portable and durable solar panels to help you weather a storm.

    4. WaterProof Containers: For storing important documents (copies of wedding license, special family photos, social security card, driver’s license, map of area, etc.)

    5. Cash: Have cash on hand in small denominations, including change. At least $20.

    6. Manual Can Opener: Make sure to have a manual can opener in case of power outages. You’ll definitely want a way to get into your food storage cans. Try the Swing-Away Crank-Turn Handle Can Opener.

    7. WaterProof Matches: If you don’t have waterproof matches, you can also store regular matches in a plastic container to keep them safe and dry.

    8. Essential Kits and Medications: First-Aid Kit, Emergency Kit, prescription medications.

    9. Sanitation Supplies/Personal Hygiene items: It’s important to keep your hands clean during an emergency to prevent the spread of disease. If your hands are caked with dirt or other substances, hand sanitizers become ineffective. If your tap water isn’t safe, wash your hands and bathe with boiled or disinfected water. Only bathe with clean, safe water in a water-related emergency like a hurricane. Wait for officials to tell you the water is clean and safe for bathing.

    •  Fact: Poor hygiene and sanitation can spread disease, especially in a natural disaster. According to a John Hopkins Red Cross study, more people die from unsanitary conditions, rather than the natural disaster itself, in some cases. So make sure you have a way to get clean!

    10. Light and Communication: Make sure to have a battery-operated radio, flashlight, clock, or wind-up clock (include extra batteries); tune in to NOAA weather radio for constant updates on the storm and water conditions.

    11. Extra Clothes, Pillows, Blankets: Stored in your emergency kit or a waterproof container.

    12. Hurricane Shutters or Storm Panels: Consider installing hurricane shutters or storm panels if you live in a hurricane-prone area. Hurricane shutters protect your windows and doors from wind and flying debris. There are commercial shutters you can buy, or you can also install your own using plywood. For a guide on picking and making shutters, check out this article.

    •  Fact: During Hurricane Andrew, much of the damage “resulted from failure of windows and doors. These failures frequently lead to interior wall failure and sometimes roof failures.” This damage could have been prevented if shutters were installed in most homes.

    13. Entertainment items: Cards, board games, toys, drawing pads

    14. Flood Insurance, Home and Property Insurance: Look into flood insurance, if you don’t already have it, to cover damage in case of a storm. Also, check out your current insurance coverage to determine if hurricanes and other natural disasters are covered under your policy.

    15. Evacuation/Communication plan: Be sure to practice your plan and be familiar with it before a storm hits.

    16. Plastic Sheeting/Tarps: After a hurricane, you can use plastic sheeting or tarps to cover any holes or damage to your roof until it can be fixed. Make sure your tarps are in good condition; heavy winds can easily damage them. Note: Installing a tarp on your roof is dangerous, check out these tips for safely installing a tarp.Plastic sheeting with a bit of duct tape is also great for patching leaks.

    17. Tools/Supplies for securing your home—Make sure to have a drill with a screwdriver bit to secure hurricane shutters. Also, have roof and window repair tools, rope, leather gloves, shovel, head and foot bolts for doors, and hurricane straps or clips to help hold the roof and walls up.

    • Fact: A common myth about hurricane preparedness is that using duct tape to secure your windows will reduce shattering, but recently, experts from the National Hurricane Center have been de-bunking this myth. They suggest that taping your windows “can create larger and deadlier shards of glass when winds blow through a home,” increasing the danger. Instead, look into buying or making your own storm shutters.

    18. Insect Repellent: This is a product that may be overlooked when packing our emergency supplies, but it’s good to have, especially in a hurricane.

    • Fact: Heavy winds and sitting pools of water often attract mosquitos after a hurricane. Mosquitos arrive in the area after being blown off trees and shrubbery—and they’re usually hungry, so make sure you have your insect repellent on hand.

    19. Child care and Pet care items: Make sure to have food, wipes, clothing, and other items to take care of your children and pets, if needed.

    20. Whistle and Flares: Do you know why you should have a whistle in your Hurricane emergency kit?

    •  Fact: During hurricanes, whistles are excellent tools to help you signal for help. Whistles are more effective than yelling or shouting because they can signal for help well beyond the range of your voice and with a lot less effort, allowing you to conserve energy. Whistles are one of the most commonly listed items to include in a hurricane emergency kit by hurricane survivors.

    For more tips on preparing for a hurricane, check out our downloadable/printable “Before a Hurricane Checklist.”


    Have you lived through a Hurricane? What Other Supplies would you add to this list?




    Photo Courtesy of

    National Weather Service Quote

    New York Times article (Solar Power in an emergency—ways to tap into it when the grid goes down)

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Insight

  • Drought Update: Lake Powell's Bleakest Year Yet

    Drought Update: Lake Powell's Bleakest Year Yet

    We’ve talked a lot this year about the destructive drought choking the western US. And while California gets most of the attention (check out UNL’s drought monitor and their frighteningly visual perspective on California’s situation), other states are suffering, as well. In fact, the drop in a single reservoir is affecting residents of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah—and California! This headline from the Daily Mail sums up the dangerous situation:

    “Satellite images reveal mud-choked Lake Powell is LESS than half full and has hit a record low as the Western drought continues to strain major reservoirs”

    The article, which features a chilling image gallery of the barely recognizable vacation spot, reports that Lake Powell currently sits at 42% of its capacity, with experts estimating that this year’s snowmelt will only bring it up to about 51%. And it’s not just bad news for boaters. The man-made reservoir serves as a source of drinking water for 20 million people living across the west, and the Glen Canyon dam that regulates the reservoir provides hydroelectric power to the area.

    While forecasters predict a cool, wet “El Niño” year for 2014, Eric Holthaus over at explains why that won’t be enough to recover from this decade-plus long dry spell in his article, “What Does El Niño Mean For Me?”. With no end in sight, then, how can we…er…weather this storm?

    For ideas on ways to prepare against the effects of severe drought, check out these helpful posts:

    And for a recap of this year’s drought and its unexpected effects, read here:


    What are you doing differently this year because of the drought?



    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, drought, Current Events

  • Finding Water in the Wild

    |6 COMMENT(S)

    Finding Water in the Wild

    Imagine being lost in the wild without any water. You’re dizzy, exhausted, and lightheaded—all signs of dehydration. You need water and you need it fast. Staying hydrated becomes even more important during a survival situation when you’re exerting more energy to survive. So if you were lost in the wild, would you know how to find water only using clues and hints from the landscape?

    In the ideal scenario, you’ll probably have water storage or pre-packaged water you can take with you on the go. But let’s say you don’t have that luxury, you’re away from your supply, or you’ve run out of water. Here are our tips for finding water in the wild.

    Signs of Fresh Water

    Although many in search of fresh water in a city or town can resort to filtering and purifying water from fish ponds, finding fresh water in the wild can be trickier. The most obvious place to look for water in the wild is a stream, river, or lake. But let’s say there are no large bodies of water in sight or that you’re, unknowingly, just a few miles away from the nearest water source. You can look for signs in the landscape to help you find that water source. Here’s what you should look for:

    • Low-lying Areas and Valleys: Water always flows downhill and into valley bottoms, so head in that direction. Water naturally drains into valley bottoms.
    • Patches of Green Vegetation: An abundance of lush, green plants is a good sign that a water source is nearby. If you see a patch of vegetation, try digging in that spot. Water may be just below the surface.
    • Animals: Most animals drink in the early morning or late afternoon. You can follow animals or animal tracks to water (just be careful of the type of animal you’re following so you don’t get attacked…). The book Outdoor Survival says, “If the tracks lead downhill and converge (they meet up at a certain point), they could lead to water.”
    • Insects: A large swarm of insects is a good indicator that a water source is nearby. According to the SAS Survival Handbook, “Ants are dependent upon water. A column of ants marching up a tree is going to a small reservoir of water.” Bees are also good indicators that water is nearby.
    • Bird Flight Patterns: If you see birds flying early in the morning in a tight, organized formation, they are probably heading to a water source. Watch their flight patterns and follow them to water.
    • The Sound of Running Water: Ok, I know you’re thinking, “Duh! Of course the sound of water is a sign.” But did you know that if you take a moment to stop and listen intently, you can hear the sound of water from great distances? Taking a moment to listen can help you find fresh water.
    • Muddy Areas: If you find a muddy patch, start digging. Muddy areas are signs of ground water. Dig a hole that’s a foot deep and a foot in diameter and wait. Water will fill the hole. Just remember to filter and purify the water before you drink it.


    How to tell if Water is Safe to Drink

    It’s important to understand that any time you find an “unconventional” water source in the wild it’s best to always purify and filter it. Fresh water springs (think the Swiss Alps) are usually clean and good to drink, but even if you’re at a spring always take caution when drinking from an untreated water source, because

    • Water in the wild could have feces, blood, and other contaminants. Fill your water bottle or container from the main output source of the water instead of getting it from a still pool downstream. Moving water keeps the water from “marinating” and harboring microorganisms
    • Water could be contaminated by chemicals and other pollutants. Check for vegetation and/or signs of animals by the water source. If there aren’t any, it may be contaminated.

    Think of these tips before you decide to drink from a body of untreated water. The best option is, of course, to filter and treat every “found” water source.

    Even if you get desperate and really thirsty, the US Army Survival Manual cautions to never drink . . .

     US Army Survival Manual chart

    Chart courtesy of US Army Survival Manual

     Always Filter and Purify your Water

    When you find a water source, it’s important to find the cleanest water possible. This means that the water is fairly free of turbidity (big floaties). The better your water source, the better your filtered and purified water will be. Also, besides protecting you from contracting any water-borne viruses, starting with the cleanest water possible will maximize the life of your filter.

    A common way to purify water is to boil it to kill any microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, etc.). But boiling may not be ideal if you don’t have the necessary equipment to start a fire or a container to hold your water. You can filter your water using a microfilter like the Katadyn Hiker Pro or Katadyn Hiker. Microfilters block impurities and most microorganisms in your water.

    If you don’t have a microfilter on hand, you can filter water by straining it through a cloth into a cup, water bottle, or large leaf … but filtering it alone will not eliminate viruses, bacteria, and protozoans in the water. You need a way to purify the water as well.

    • Steripen: A Steripen, which purifies water UV light, is great to have on hand. It disrupts the DNA of microbes that could make you sick, purifying your water in seconds. It is small enough to fit in your pocket or daypack. Remember that the water must be clear in order for the Steripen to work (water cannot be full of turbidity—large floaties, branches, leafs, etc.), so pre-filter the water before purifying.
    • Micropur Tablets: You can also use Micropur tablets to purify your water. However, keep in mind that when using Micropur tablets it’s important to follow the instructions on the package. It takes four hours for these tablets to kill 99.9% of all microorganisms in the water. They are effective at protecting you from Cryptosporidium, Giardia, bacteria, and viruses in your water.


    What if I don’t have a Filter or Purifier?

    If you don’t have a way to filter or purify your water, and you’re just trying to find water to survive, the quality of the water may not matter as much to you. Always start with the “cleanest” water source you can find to avoid getting sick. At this point, you’ll have to weigh your chances of getting sick with the possibility of becoming dehydrated.

    You can find the “cleanest” water from the following sources:

    • Moving water. Always go to the output point of a body of moving water. This way, you’ll know the water is clean. Streams are almost always better than ponds because the water is constantly moving and changing.
    • Solar disinfection. Put untreated water (free of turbidity) into clear plastic bottles. Leave the bottle in the sun for about 8hrs. The UV will disinfect the water. This water cannot be stored, but is good for emergencies.
    • Rock Beds. Water moving through rock below the surface is generally very clean when you dig it out and it reaches the surface.
    • Snow runoff. Runoff from snow that runs is generally very clean until it makes contact with the ground or another contaminated area.

    The idea is to find a water source to help you stay hydrated until you can get somewhere with clean, safe water (like your home if you get lost while hiking, or an emergency shelter, etc.).

    5 Water Collection Techniques

    In addition to looking for signs of fresh water, there are ways that you can use the landscape to collect water using condensation, dew, rainwater, and ice/snow. Always try using more than one water collection technique or use a water collection technique and signs in conjunction so that you can have multiple ways of getting water and a way to increase the amount that you find. Check out these five techniques for collecting water in the wild:

    1. Use Condensation from Trees and Branches-- Look for a leafy bush or tree branch that is healthy with vegetation. Tie a plastic bag around the branch using paracord or rope. The evaporation from the plant will create condensation in the bag.


    Wiki how to collect water from branches

     2. Make a Solar Still

    Howstuffworks water still


    • Using plastic sheeting, a shovel, container, drinking tube, and a rock, you can create a solar still—a type of water collection system that uses condensation and the sun to create a water reserve.
    • Look for a moist area that gets a lot of sunlight for most of the day. Dig a bowl-shaped hole that’s three feet across and two feet deep. Adding plants and vegetation to your hole helps to create moisture.
    • Make sure that you create a small hole at the bottom of the bowl-shaped hole to hold your container. Put the container in that small hole and place your drinking hose into the container so that it runs out of the main hole. Lay the plastic sheet over the hole and cover the sides with rocks and soil to keep the plastic in place.
    • Place a rock in the middle of the plastic and let it slide down about 18 inches, right over the top of the container. Add more soil and rocks to the edges of the plastic to keep it in place.
    • The moisture from the ground will create condensation because of the heat of the sun. The condensation will run down the plastic into your water container.

     3. Melt Ice and Snow

    • Melting ice is quicker than melting snow and it will give you more water while using less heat or having to feed a fire or flame.
    • If you do have to use snow, dig down. Outdoor Survival suggests “deeper layers are more granular and provide denser snow.”
    • If you do not have fuel to melt your snow, create compact balls of snow and place them in the sun or next to your body in a waterproof container. Suck on the bottom of the ball after it’s melted a little. Place it back in your waterproof container to allow it to melt more.
    • Remember: Eating ice and snow that aren’t melted into liquid increases the risk for hypothermia. Always melt ice and snow before you use it as a water source.

    4. Rainwater: Rainwater is safe to drink unless it’s been in an area where there was a huge fire or a volcanic eruption. You can collect rainwater in any sort of container you have with you during a survival situation. Also, rocky areas capture a lot of water in depressions. Much of this water stays nearly in these depressions nearly year round. If you want to collect rain water for everyday use, make sure that it’s legal to do so in your city or state first.

    5. Plants

    • Cup-shaped plants and flowers can hold a collection of water
    • Bamboo holds water within its hollow joints
    • Some vines hold drinkable water. However, some vines have poisonous sap in them, so learn which vines are safe for drinking from. Cut a notch in the stem. Let the water drip into your mouth from the stem.
    • Cacti fruit and bodies store water, but again, not all cacti store water that is safe to drink (for example, the multi-fingered cacti in Arizona is poisonous)
    • Many plants hold water at their roots.


    What’s your advice for finding a water source in the wild? Have you ever used any of these tricks?


    - Angela



    Photos courtesy of WikiHow and

    SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the Wild, in any Climate, on Land or at Sea by John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman

    Outdoor Survival: The Essential Guide to Equipment and Techniques by Garth Hattingh

    The Sense of Survival by J. Allan South

    Posted In: Insight, Skills

  • The Effects of California's Driest Year

    |7 COMMENT(S)

    The Effects of California's Driest Year

    This post is the second installment of a three-part series highlighting the 2014 California Drought. Check out Part One of the series: "California Drought: Four Months in Review

    For the last three to four years, drought conditions have spread all across the western US, but recently, California has been hit the hardest, facing dry temperatures and withered land. The following infographic from Drought Monitor shows you just how dry (and as a result, at risk for fires) certain areas of California are. 100% of the state of California is now in “severe” to exceptional drought.

    California Drought Monitor

    Conservation Mode

    The state is in emergency water conservation mode until further notice. According to Kathleen Miles from the Huffington Post, Governor Brown has advised residents to cut their water use by 20%. Homeowners who don’t promptly fix leaks have been fined by city governments.

    Coin-operated car washes must only use recycled water. Restaurants and private citizens are encouraged to use paper plates and cups, and water is served in restaurants only upon customer request. Newly-constructed swimming pools may not be filled. Earlier in the year, cities were squabbling over who gets how much water; and in Mendocino County, the sheriff’s office is keeping a close eye out for water thieves who try to pump water from Lake Mendocino into trucks and haul it away to sell or use.

    According to a Huffington Post article from May 16th, 40 city employees in Sacramento have even been “re-designated as ‘water cops’ tasked with reporting and responding to wasteful maintenance.”

    Industry Affected

    Tourism is also adversely affected. California’s ski industry struggled all winter for the lack of snow. Fishing has been banned in several rivers to protect drought-stricken salmon and steelhead trout that may be in danger of extinction if the drought continues. The wine industry is also suffering, with grapes growing slowly and ripening before they’ve reached mature size.

    Wildfires Increase

    California is especially vulnerable to wildfires during times of drought. On average, 69 fires are reported monthly during normal conditions; however, just from January 1 to January 25 of this year, 406 wildfires were reported. The California wildfire season typically occurs during the summer and fall, but the drought has caused wildfires to become an all-year-round occurrence.

    According to the National Journal, as of May 15th “brush fires in California had burned nearly 10,000 acres, destroyed 30 homes, threatened multiple military facilities, and forced thousands to evacuate.” The state has also faced a series of heat waves, with highs between 98 and 106 degrees F that are not helping the situation.


    These drought conditions are severely taking a toll on daily life in California and other areas in the west. Check out our Insight Articles to help you conserve water in the future by building up your own water storage supply today:

    Tomorrow, check out Part III of our California Drought Series  "California Drought: the Impact on Farming and Produce"

    -Sharon, Kim, and Angela

    Photo Courtesy of the United States Drought Monitor

    Editor's Note:  Correction to a statement made in an earlier version of this article. Lawn watering and car washing has not yet been banned in California. Watering has been reduced to two days a week and car washing has not been reduced yet. Residents are asked not to water sidewalks in an effort to conserve water.



    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: California Drought, drought, natural disaster

  • California Drought: Four Months in Review

    |1 COMMENT(S)

    California Drought: Four Months in Review

    This post is the first installment of a three-part series highlighting the 2014 California Drought. 

    All the western states, including California, are naturally subject to periods of drought. But according to B. Lynn Ingram, University of California Earth Science professor, a study of tree rings shows California’s current drought to be the most severe in the last 500 years.

    Not only did California receive zero rainfall this January (normally the rainiest month of the year), recent past conditions have illustrated the decline in moisture. In 2013, California received a total of 7 inches of rain; the average yearly total is 22 inches. The Sierra snowpack, which gives California 1/3 of its water, was 88% below normal as of January 30, 2013.

    In early 2014, Governor Jerry Brown declared the state a “primary natural disaster area,” and President Obama announced over $190 million in drought aid. With almost twice as many fires and acres burned between January and March of this year than last year, California needed more than light rain and overcast skies to pull them from this drought. Unfortunately, over four months later, California has not seen the type of precipitation to pull them out of the drought and reduce wildfires in the state.

    The lack of rain over the past few months has led some, such as the Santa Clara Valley Water District, to alert cities and companies that only 80 percent of requested treated drinking water will be provided for the rest of the year. The companies and cities losing this water typically provide it for about 1.5 million people. However, it’s not only thirsty cities receiving less treated drinking water, but irrigated farmlands are forced to turn to alternate sources of water such as wells.

    During our lifetimes, we’ve become accustomed to California being the garden of the nation, producing nearly half of the fruit, nuts, and vegetables for the whole country. The sight of fallow fields, blowing dust, or browned seedlings failing in the heat is an image we associate more with the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma back in the 1930s than with California. But that may not be the case this year unless there’s a significant change in the weather.

    National Journal reporter, Marina Koren, believes that in order “to break its historic drought, California would need to see 9 to 15 inches of precipitation in one month. That’s more than half a year’s worth of average rainfall for the state.” This lack of precipitation for the state has created water restrictions.

    A water restriction for both irrigation and drinking (whether due to drought, a chemical spill, or another emergency) is a great reason to keep your [water storage] up to date. Check out these articles to learn more about the importance of water storage:


    -Sharon, Kim, and Angela

    Come back in the next couple of days to check out the rest of our California Drought Series:

    Part II “The Effects of CA's Driest Year"

    Part III "How does  the CA Drought Effect your Grocery List?"


    Photo Courtesy of the Huffington Post via the Associated Press


    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: California Drought, drought, natural disaster

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