The body requires water to carry out essential functions, such as keeping cells healthy and balancing the internal temperature. A person can only survive a few days without it.

When disaster strikes and you and your family find no water coming out of your tap, don’t allow yourself to get left high and dry. You should make sure that your household has clean water during an unforeseen or announced crisis.

Keep these tips in mind when preparing your family for a possible water shortage:

  • Store Sufficient Emergency Water

First things first: You need to keep enough water that will help you and your family last through a shortage. The general rule is to store a minimum of one gallon of clean water per individual per day. Allocate the first half for sanitation and cooking, and allot the second half for drinking.

Take note, though, that a gallon a day per person is just the starting point. Your household will require more water if you have the elderly or kids living with you, are nursing a baby or are ill. Your family may also need more water if you are living in an area with hot or humid weather.

  • Place Water in Food-Safe Containers

The good news is that water itself does not expire. The bad news is that it can become unfit for consumption if you don’t store it properly. So, make sure that you store large quantities of water in food-grade plastic containers.

If you don’t have these containers (or you ran out of them), the next best thing is to get any clean container. Then, use a method of purification, such as boiling, if you suspect that your water may be unsafe to drink.

  • Invest in a Rainwater Harvesting System

If you’re living in an area where it rains a lot, you’re in luck. You could install a rainwater harvesting system that will enable you to obtain water free of charge. Consider hiring a trusted plumbing company if you need help installing a piping system that delivers rainwater to your water heater, toilet and other areas of your home.

Pro-tip: although rainwater is probably safe for consumption, you should filter the water you collect just in case. If you don’t have the budget to set up a filtration system, don’t fret. You could set up some clean barrels and containers, then just boil the water before using it.

  • Mark Water Clearly

Come up with a system of labeling treated and untreated water clearly and properly in containers. This way, you won’t mix up the two and accidentally drink the untreated water.

  • Stock up on Hand Sanitizers

People who observe good personal hygiene wash their hands with warm running water and soap. This scenario, however, won’t be possible once a water shortage or crisis hits your area. Instead of using soap and water, buy sanitizers to clean your hands. By doing so, you can stretch the water supply you’ve saved for your household.

  • Purchase a Dehumidifier

If you have a water shortage but not a blackout, consider using the water from a dehumidifier. Although you won’t be able to drink the water generated by this machine, you can use it for flushing the toilet and washing clothes.

  • Buy Disposable Utensils, Cups and Plates

Cleaning up after breakfast, lunch and dinner can be challenging, as this will use a lot of water. If your supply is running low, you’ll want to save the remaining water you have for cooking utensils. Then, just use disposables for everything else.

  • Learn How to Get Additional Water from Your Water Heater

Your water heater can store about 40 gallons of water. You could use this water during a shortage.

First, switch off your water at your home’s main shutoff, then turn off the power or gas to your water heater. If necessary, break the vacuum effect by opening a couple of faucets above the water heater. Finally, hook up a hose to collect the water from the tank. Make sure that you filter the water if you come across solids during the collection stage.

  • Do Laundry in Advance

If your city or town announces water shortage schedules, do laundry ahead of time. You’ll want to have enough clean clothes that will get you through the entire shortage. What’s more, doing laundry in advance will prevent you from using your emergency water.

Water is important to families and needs to be at the forefront of any disaster preparedness strategy. Taking note of these nine suggestions will help you cope without running water in your home and allow you to stay as healthy as possible during these challenging times.