When we talk of emergency preparations, we think of food and gear and all those other things that will make our lives feel as normal as possible (three cheers for the portable Bluetooth speakers!). However, there is one resource that you will want to secure as soon as you find yourself in an emergency situation. That resource is water. There is a “Rule of Three” that applies to survival. The Rule of Three reminds you that you can survive with: three minutes without air, three days without water, three weeks without food.

So, the first step is to check your breathing. Still good? Great. Now make sure you have water. I find it interesting that, although we as humans can last about three weeks without food, we can only last three days without water. Why, then, do we sometimes forget about this all-important fluid? We worry about filling our basement with emergency food storage (which is awesome, by the way), but we might look over our water storage preparations (which isn’t as awesome).

In truth, your emergency water storage and preparations should be the first thing you start with. Water is an essential part of any emergency plan. Here are three reasons why water is a great idea for your emergency preparations.

Drinking

Couple staying hydrated after workout
Why Water- Drinking recommends keeping at least one gallon per day per person in order to stay sufficiently hydrated. After all, your body is made up of about 60% water, so when an emergency happens, you’ll want to keep it nice and healthy in order to perform the necessary tasks involved with surviving. That being said, children, nursing mothers, and sick people may need more water.

Don’t forget pets, either. Just like humans, they need to stay hydrated, too. Just as you wouldn’t take your pet goldfish out of its bowl and expect it to survive, you wouldn’t evacuate with your cat or dog and expect them to do well without the necessary water.

Hygiene

Why water - hygiene already mentioned that you should have at least one gallon of water per day per person, but did you note the “at least” part? You should have at least that much because that’s what you need for hydration and light sanitation. If you intend to stay hygienic as well (which we all hope you do), you’re going to want more water than just a gallon. You should have an extra four gallons of water for personal hygiene.

Health and Well-being

When we become dehydrated, our body tries to warn us that we need to drink more water by giving us warning signs in the form of discomfort. Symptoms may reveal themselves as a headache, irritability, dizziness, weakness, disorientation, thirst, dry skin, and lethargy. So, if you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, chances are your body is screaming at you to drink more water. Drinking plenty of water can also improve your skin complexion, so there’s that, too.

While it’s good to be prepared with food and gear, water should be your first priority. Without it, you’ll be in a heap of trouble. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be difficult to begin stocking up with water. Start with a liter here and a gallon there. Make sure you keep your water in food-grade, plastic containers. Milk cartons aren’t the best idea because the proteins can’t be removed effectively enough. Two-liter pop bottles, however, would be a good place to start. Check out our water storage options for other ideas. Water is essential in your emergency preparations. Don’t wait until you know you’ll need it. Go out and start preparing today!

You should store enough water to last at least three days, although two weeks’ worth would be ideal. A good rule of thumb is a gallon of water per day per person (and pet), but you might want more if it’s very hot out or you’re pregnant. You should also be ready to disinfect the water. If there’s been flooding, even if the tap turns back on, the water might not be safe to drink because of bacterial contamination.

You can disinfect water by boiling it for at least a minute on a stove or fire, or by using water purification tablets like iodine or chlorine dioxide. In my emergency kit, I have a filter you can stick directly into a water source or vessel filled with contaminated water, called a Lifestraw. It’s supposed to remove most waterborne microbes from my water, which as you can imagine, would serve to be quite useful in any survival scenario.