Tuesday, February 11, 2020

No Running Water - What Would You Do?

I know there are places that have had much flooding recently, so the thought of no water sounds crazy.  I even had a lake in my backyard till this morning.  We got almost 2" of rain from late Sunday afternoon until Monday morning.
BUT, what if you had no access to city or running water?  No turning on the faucet with water coming out.  No water for flushing.  No water for baths or laundry.
Do you have any plans in case that would ever happen for an extended period of time?

If you are on a well, wonderful.  But what would happen if the power was down as well?  Do you have a hand pump?
Do you live near a creek, pond, lake or river?  Do you have rain barrels or some way to collect rain water?  Do you have alternate plans for drinking, cleaning, cooking, bathroom?
It sure is something to think about.

You need pretty clean water for drinking and cooking, so as not to get sick.  I try to keep a supply of bottled water on hand.  You need to cover yourself and your animals.  Now my cats actually like rain water.  I often refill their water bowls as well as bird baths with rain water in the summer.  That is a plus.
If you live on a farm - you need to have a plan for all those animals.
People can make a good water filtration system out of buckets and a purchased filter.  This would help a lot.  There is also the 'life straw' - which turns any type of water into drinkable.
These should be purchased by everyone - they are not that expensive.  They last through many gallons of water - and could be life saving.
I bottle a lot of water myself as well.  I use old pop bottles, which last for a long time.  Unlike milk jugs, which break down fairly quickly, older pop bottles are great.
Think about getting water sanitizing tablets as well.  They treat all types of water.

These would be great for collection of water for all types of uses.  You could use for filtration to drink, use for flushing, use for bathing or for laundry.  You can purchase rain barrels or make your own.  IF you can not come up with a barrel system and something would happen to the water system - use whatever you could to collect rain water.  Coolers, buckets, barrels,  totes, etc.  Remove the end of a downspout and let the water fill whatever you are using ( dump into plugged up sinks and tubs if nec. and continue to refill).  You could get real creative if you had to.  In the winter - you could use snow and melt for use.
This is one downspout at my house - I can collect 110 gallons of water in these 2 containers.  In a no running water situation, I would have some sort of bucket or tote at every downspout to catch ANY rainwater I could.

OK, this could get tricky.  Seriously, if you had only limited water to use, you may have to just not wash laundry as often.  I know many are thinking ICK - but you do what you have to.  If clothes are not actually 'dirty - filthy' they could be hung outside to air out - you could spray with Febreeze or whatever you have and hang outside.  If you know someone or a place that still has water - think about going there to do laundry, but if the city is down then you get creative.
Hand wash with rain or creek/pond water whatever needs it.  I have a wash tub, buckets and even a real washboard I could use.  I also have an old antique wringer that clamps onto a table or something.  Then line dry.
I have heard people say they have used a bucket  filled with water and a plunger for agitation!  Get creative.
(Don't toss that water when done - it has other uses)

Long showers and luxurious baths are out!  'Sponge' baths or 'sailor' baths - whatever you call them - is the way to go.  Hand wash.  You could use rain water, creek water, or even pond water - remember people used to bathe in the rivers!  Sounds silly - but if it rained - stand outside and clean whatever you can and still be decent!!!!  Rain water is wonderful for the hair!
I keep wet wipes on hand.  You can easily wash down with them.  I always try to keep several packs around.  I think this is something that should be in everyone's prep supplies.
Sanitizing hand wash is also good.  You can often find hand sanitizer in large bottles - it sure would help in an emergency.
(Again - don't toss water)

Hopefully you could continue to use your toilet and then 'flush' with buckets of water from rain, creek, pond, etc.  You could use that leftover laundry or bath water - you wouldn't just TOSS any water away during an emergency like this.
Now say you don't have much excess water to do this - think outside the box.
You may have to resort to another 'catchment' system (that can be thrown away at landfill or buried).  Maybe an adult 'potty chair' like used in nursing homes or for disabled folks (with liners for more than one use).  I have one of those in the shed.
Is you don't have that - get creative yet AGAIN!  A big bucket, something to sit on and lined with double layers of bags.  
This one doesn't show it lined - but boy oh boy I sure would.  Double bagged would be my choice.  I would also keep cat litter or wood shavings around as well.  When bucket is used for  'solids' top with a sprinkle of wood shavings or litter to help reduce smell.  I would try to pee in a cup or jug (not in the lined bucket) and that could be poured in woods or away from the home (or down the sewer drains).  There would be no sense in filling that lined bucket with liquids.  That would make it heavier to remove and get rid of.  Maybe have something to place over the top when not in use. (a board, an old seat cover, plastic, etc.)

You would need drinkable water to use for cooking.  You could also boil water for a bit of time, to help remove bad stuff.  I keep paper plates on hand for just in case.  Not something I use on a regular bases.  I wouldn't want to waste valuable water washing dishes.  I could simply rinse out drinking glass  or rinse off utensils.  I could cook on the grill to not use a lot of pans.  I could also cook over a fire in the yard with cast iron cookware.  That way I could always wipe out the pans or set in the fire to 'burn off' any crud.  Learn to make hobo dinners - food wrapped in foil and placed on grill or next to fire (or even oven).  Baking and eating all contained in one!

Have you ever thought about what you would do?  I guess we don't think of these things a lot - but we never know what could happen.
What do you have on hand that would help in a no running water situation?  
Share your ideas and thoughts.  
We all need to be prepared for the worst situations!!!!!

Let's help each other and get creative!


  1. We lived for five days without water when the electric pump on the well died in our rental in rural Virginia. We had stored lots of water but quickly decided to forgo washing dishes and went to using paper and disposable products. We used water poured from a bucket to flush the toilet and kept the bathroom door closed to contain the odor. We visited a motel to take a shower; when the manager found out the situation he asked if we'd be willing to use an uncleaned room for free, we were willing and we all took showers that Sunday morning so we could go to church. This happened in August during a heatwave in Virginia, 2002. On the fourth day we ran out of stored water and visited friends to fill our 5 gallon containers so we could carry on. It was not a fun adventure with five children ages 13 - 4. But we learned what we could accomplish and what more we needed. Since then we've moved to Utah, Iowa and now Minnesota. We store even more water, but fortunately haven't needed it. But we have peace of mind and that's important!

    1. Peace of mind is priceless! How nice of the motel to offer to let you use the showers. I have a brother who has what seems an unending well (spring fed) that I could turn to, as long as there was electricity.
      That was a good trial for you and now you know what to do and what to have. If the entire town went down without water, things could be dicey.
      Thanks for the share - it is nice to hear from those who have been there and done that!

    2. I forgot to say that I told my husband at the time, "I don't mind playing pioneer, but I want the right equipment to do so. If we ever live with a well again I want a hand pump available for when the power or pump is out".

    3. I would sure want a hand pump too if I had a well. That would make life a lot easier.

    4. Hello Rozy Lass, we moved to Hokie country in August 2002. I think I remember the heat wave that year.
      Being without running water is hard, but sounds like you did well.

  2. Cheryl, Good post. But it got me to thinking what happens when we run out of toilet paper and there are no Sears catalogs any more!!

    1. Thanks. Well, DON'T run out!!!!! LOL
      Always have plenty for back up and then newspaper and old magazines, wet wipes, tissues, and then old scraps and rags.
      That is one thing we don't want to be out of EVER!

  3. We store water in 10 gallon containers. We have enough for eating and cooking for 2 weeks, since we live by a river, we can always go get water for washing and toilet use.

    1. I have plenty for myself for drinking for quite a while. Hopefully it would rain and there would be rain water.
      Always nice to know you have a back-up plan!

  4. We do have a well pump for our well, but it is not connected. We would have to find someone to hook it up for us. We've went about 6 days with no water before and it was rough. Flushing the toilet can be done if we have water stored, but it can be heavy to carry too.

    1. We had our water stored in 1 gal jugs, to flush the toilet we'd pour the water from the jug into a bucket and holding it high above the toilet pour it out quickly to get the most pressure. Then we'd repeat to clean out the bowl. One gallon jugs are more manageable than anything larger.

    2. Belinda you might want to get that hooked one day before needed. Water is heavy - you are so right.

    3. Rozy that is what I do. I keep lots of milk jugs of water for mainly that reason. I do have 3 - 15 gallon jugs, but boy oh boy is it heavy. At least they have spouts -s o that water could be drained out as well.

  5. I grew up on a farm without running water...well, we ran and got it from the well or the dugout. We also gathered water in rain barrels and melted snow in a large barrel in the house in the winter. Softest water I've ever used!

    Now I'd be hooped. But I guess we'd figure it out somehow.

    1. At least you have had experience to fall back on. It sure would be tiring and hard at this age - but I can do whatever it takes.

  6. I do have some bottled water in my emergency go bag but no room for anything else. Living in a town with mains water supply we tend to leave it to the water company and they bring bottled water in the event of a cut to supply. I don't even have a shed to store things.

    1. If there was a huge emergency and no water town wide for a sustained amount of town - I would hate to depend on the water company to bring water. Drinking water would probably be all you would get. You would still need to flush and wash.
      You might consider placing some jugs of water for those things under the bed or behind the couch - just to have in case.
      It sure can be a scary thought.

  7. Thanks for the tips! Something I need to think on more...
    I bought a sawyer mini a few weeks ago, and it is in my backpack.
    I love your rain barrel setup. We do have a well, and a generator we can hook up. I have extra water stored in kitty litter continers for potty flushing, and some gallons of drinking water in the freezer to take up space and keep things cold longer.
    We were without power for 11 days during the derecho of 2012, and we have been without power during ice storms, so it is good to be prepared.

    1. Sounds like you have a good plan. Never thought about using a generator to help pump - great idea.
      It is good to hear from people that have gone through some down time - we can all learn from you guys.

  8. What a welcome reminder. As a child we could only use well water for washing clothes and bathing. We has no running water at all. My mother spot cleaned clothes, she had a mangle and an iron so the clothes could be refreshed that way. All our wash was hung on a line outside. The well was 1/4 mile away. It was ruff. For bathing in the winter we only had baths every two weeks. The rest of the time was sponge baths. In the summer we has one once a week. Our drinking water was brought from 10 miles away. It was stored in a milk tin. Once the hamlet where we got our drinking water from could not be used. My father took all the containers he could find, went up to the creek in the mountains and brought lots of water home. One winter we got snowed in. I decided to use the last of the drinking water to bathe the cat in. We melted snow to drink. Thanks.

    1. I was following intently and then saw "used the water to bathe the cat"!!! LOL - oh my I bet you got in trouble!!! That is so funny and cute.
      That would sure be a long hail for water. I know of a flowing spring - but it miles away (used to get water when we would go out on drives). It was the best tasting water. Lots of people know about it too, so that probably wouldn't work.
      I bet that creek water was wonderful. Love your memories and thank you for sharing.

  9. We live 1/4 mile from a lake. We would use 5 gallon buckets and use the wheel barrel and wagon to bring them home. We have 2 water filter systems and lifestraws in our cars. I keep paper goods on hand so we would start using them. I have about 30 gallons of water for drinking in the house at all times. Baby wipes are good for cleaning up for a few days. Long term I would pull out the camping shower.

    1. Oh another good idea - the camping shower. As long as you had lots of rain water to use - perfect.
      I love hearing all the ideas everyone has and the experiences.
      Thanks for the idea.

    2. 1 thing I forgot. I store water in my empty canning jars. As I empty them I fill them up with water. I have to store them anyway so I might as well fill them with something. Also I use the water to fill up the canner so the water isn't wasted.

    3. Smart idea. I have heard of people canning water to fill up the canner - but your idea makes a lot of sense. I think I will start doing that as well. We never know when the need will arise.

  10. We have our own well, and we live as a last house of power lines - it was quite often we had power failures and therefore no water from the well. But they usually lasted on ly for hours, occasionallu days, but never a week (now cables are underground so much fewer power cuts).
    But last summer we ran out of water in our well. It wasn't a suprice, because we didn't have decent rain in 18 months.
    So: we have composting toilet (outhouse), so no problems there. And boys can always go to the bushes to pee :-)
    I cooked meals that needed very little water, used any rainwater or water from our swimming pool to wash potatoes/veggies first and then only used clean water to rinse them. We couls ude about 200l water from the well daily, so that meant I could run either dishwasher of washing machine on one day. We used buckets to wash ourselves, once a week we went to local spa and swam and enjoyed running water (I got free tickets for that). My mother offered to wash our laundry, but didn't need that.
    It went for eight weeks until ground water was high again to be somewhat normal to use.
    But it could happen again, and I know it will happen again. We have our means to cope.

    1. WOW - you did well. Good idea using the swimming pool water. A compost toilet is a wonderful idea. That could be a good idea to just have for anyone. It could be placed in any out building.
      Another good idea - going to the spa/gym to use showers or swim.
      Thanks for more ideas and suggestions. Hoping you don't have to go through all that again anytime soon!

  11. We have our own (spring) water supply here in rural Wales (a common occurrence) and in a very hot summer have had to be very careful indeed. Bathing in the shallowest of baths gave us water to flush the toilet when essential. Clothes were worn as long as possible, and aired on the line. When washing had to be done it was done in the bath water and thoroughly wrung out. Any water used for cooking became washing up water. That, when cold, watered outside plants.

    Back in the day when we shared a water supply (with the dairy herd next door), we have found out there was NO water only by turning on the tap and nothing coming out. Then we would tell the farmer and quite often the water supply in the holding tank would be topped up with river water. Just DON'T ask how the farmer got it up there, you just need to know you could not have drunk it . . . We had to resort to bottled water for the cooking/drinking/washing up side of things.

    1. Sounds like you did many of the things I mentioned - like re-using water for other things. I wish we all had wells - that would sure help out.
      I can't even begin to imagine how they filled that holding tank. That had to be a feat unto itself!
      I am curious how long bottled water has been around. I will have to do some research. I sure never remember hearing about it when I was a kid.
      Thanks for sharing!

  12. We would use our downpipe water butts if full. Luckily we have 6 good sized ones. Reminds me of the walking dead tv series. What would happen after several months in the event of a prolonged problem. Good post.

    1. Thanks. Yes, we would all have to do what we could. You could use those to fill the tub and refill again!