Are you prepared in an event of an emergency or situation where you are without water? Here are some tips on how to live with no running water.
Living With No Running Water
This winter was a rough one for us in many ways. Living in a camper in a South Dakota winter is simply not ideal but we didn’t have much of a choice. Thankfully we are finally in a better situation and we can look back now at what we learned from our experiences.
One of the worst things about this winter was not having running water for a good part of the season. I never had really thought about it before but now I’ll gladly take no electricity over no running water any day. Not only was it difficult to keep up with even the most basic household tasks, after a few days without a warm shower being stuck in the house together with the freezing cold wind blowing outside…things start to get a little crazy. And I don’t know about you but my house gets into total chaos when things don’t get done, laundry starts piling up, dishes start piling up, and people start smelling a bit ripe…
In case you ever had to go through a situation where you have no running water (which I think we should all be prepared to do because you just simply never know, no matter where you live!) here are some tips on how how to live without running water, to make it through until you have water again.
Stock up on bottled water.
This is my number one priority on planning for no water now. Why couldn’t you just melt snow, or get water from somewhere else? Unless you have a good source of water nearby (that cannot freeze and you are able to drink), it just makes more sense to have a case of water on hand. And personally….I would not want to melt snow on the stove when I have a toddler screaming for a bath! Even though we have a Berkey Water Filter that can clean up any water, we had no way of getting any water to filter! Make sure you stockpile enough for several days for each family member (1 gallon of water per day). I have more on Stockpiling Water here and the different methods it can be done. We prefer to have a mix of water bottles and 7-gallon water jugs. Remember that you will also want to have water on hand to flush the toilet.
Have paper plates on hand.
When you are unable to do any dishes unless you want to continuously use up your available fresh water, having paper goods on hand is a great idea. Many times this winter I was incredibly thankful to have a small stack of paper plates and disposable eating utensils on hand that we could toss when we were done with them. Sanity saver! Paper bowls are great too in-case you are having soup or if you need to mix something up.
Perfect the art of the sponge bath.
Out of all the things that required running water, how to shower without running water was the hardest. I know I missed taking warm showers the most. When taking a sponge bath is your only option, here are a few things to keep in mind… Make sure you have a stack of fresh, clean washcloths somewhere in your home at all times. When they are used, make sure each family member hangs them up in a different place so they can be reused for the next “bath”. For little ones…keep some kind of small tub or tote on hand for bathing. We used a large storage tote and just set it in the tub for our toddler, I don’t even think he knew the difference. For hair washing, we would plug the sink, pour warm water in and use a cup to wash hair.
If you didn’t go outside during the day and your clothes are not dirty, fold them up at the end of the day to wear again. With no way to wash laundry, it’s important to try and not let it pile up too high. If all else fails and you are able to leave home…use the laundry mat.
Have a large stockpot on hand at all times!
The sentence above deserves an exclamation point because it’s something I failed to do for the first month without water (my stockpot was buried in a moving box!), and I finally just went out and purchased a cheap large stockpot to help. With a large stockpot, you can boil enough water for several sinkfuls of dishes or it can be enough water for a few people to wash their hair. If you don’t have a stockpot, we picked ours up at Walmart for only about $6, buy one!
Have some easy freezer meals on hand.
I never knew when we would have water and when we wouldn’t so keeping a well-stocked freezer was hard. When it’s difficult to clean dishes you don’t really want to be dirtying up 10 bowls to make supper. Since I didn’t know when we wouldn’t have water, when we did have it, I was a crazy girl in the kitchen making easy meals that I could stick in the freezer and we could pull out and simply warm up when we didn’t have water and needed them. This made life so much easier!
— Here are some great Make Ahead Meals.
Most of all…try and keep your sanity. Having paper plates and water bottles for a while may seem wasteful but if it’s going to mess with your mind to have piled up dishes and a big mess for a while, go for the sanity saver, trust me!
You never know when the occasion might arise that you may have to go without water for a little while, but like I believe with every aspect of life, it’s better to be prepared than to be stuck without!
Looking for more ways to be prepared? Here are a few posts you might enjoy:
–Get more Preparedness Tips here.
Have you ever had to deal with living without running water? How did you make life more bearable during that time?
This post on How to Live with No Running Water was originally published on Little House Living in May 2014. It has been updated as of December 2019.