16 Surprising Places to Find Water When You’re Dying of Thirst

May 28, 2015 by | Be the first to comment »

There’s no need to remind you that you can’t survive for more than 3 days without water; the rule of threes is something every prepper learns early on. In fact, some of you are probably smiling right now thinking: Well, I’m covered for a lot more than 72 hours!

In theory, yes…. provided you bug in when disaster strikes. But what if you need to bug out, how long will the water in your bug-out bag last? And what if you don’t make it to your bug-out location and you’re forced to spend days, even weeks into the woods in a makeshift shelter?

You need to know how to find water, filter it, purify it, maybe even desalinate it (if we’re talking about ocean water). There are plenty of articles on doing all of the above so today I want to focus on all the various places where water may be available. Just like anything else pertaining to survival, finding water is a skill that needs to be practiced.

I’m gonna split this article in two: one for urban/suburban and the other for rural/wilderness scenarios. This should group the ideas nicely.

Finding Water in Urban/Suburban Areas

Inside abandoned vehicles

A lot of people will break into cars post-SHTF to find guns, fuel, even money, but few realize they stand a good chance of finding water or soda as well.

In lakes, ponds and city fountains

Trivial advice, every urban prepper knows these. To go a step further, it would be nice if you could mark on your map all the possible routes you can take to and from these locations. Keep in mind that going from your house to the nearest fountain could prove to be risky to say the least.

In local swimming pools

Again, trivial. The only problem is you’re gonna need a way in. Now, I’m not going to suggest you need to think about ways to break into those places right now, it’s just something to keep in mind for when the situation will become more or less desperate for you.


Simply place every recipient you have when it starts raining. Rainwater may contain bacteria, dust and smoke particles so it’s best that you purify it before consumption.

From the piping inside your house

With a little bit of luck, you might find up to a few gallons sitting around inside your pipes. Heck, with a little bit of luck, you might find some water even inside your washing machine!

Finding Water in the Wilderness

Around birds, bees and insects

Bees, ants, mason flies, finches, mosquitoes, pigeons… these are always good indicators that a water source is nearby. On the other hand, reptiles, parrots and flesh eating birds are not good indicators.

In valleys and low areas

Water has the (natural) tendency to drain towards low areas so, if you’re stuck in the wild, those are the places you should be heading to look for it.

From animal tracks

If no animals are nearby, how about animal tracks? If you see them coming and going to and from different directions, water is not far away.

Near the right vegetation

Willow, birches, cottonwoods – these are all good indicators that water close. If you still can’t find it, you can put the some leaves from the aforementioned plants in a plastic bag and leave it in the sun to collect moisture.

Another thing you can do, particularly if you’re in the woods is to dig a small hole in one of the trees with your knife, then tie a cup or a canteen to the tree to let the water accumulate inside. This only works well in early spring. You won’t have much luck in any other season, unfortunately.

From dew

Dew is a great source of water, provided you’re there early in the morning to collect it. Early in the morning, tie up a couple of rags to your feet and walk through the wet grass. Wring the water into a pot and repeat.

Collect it below the ground

A simple below ground water capture still can provide you with just enough water to quench your thirst. You will need something to dig up a small, bowl-shaped hole in the ground, a clear plastic sheet big enough to fully cover it, a can or a pot and a few rocks (5, to be exact) to hold the sheeting in place. The whole should be around 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep. Optionally, you may want a long straw in order to drink the water without disassembling the entire setup.

From tree leaves

Simply cover the leaves off a branch with a plastic bag, tie it at the end and wait for the water from the leaves to evaporate. All you need then is a cup to collect the water at the bottom of the bag.

By digging a seep

Obviously you can’t just dig anywhere and find water. If you can find damp ground, you’re in luck. If not, you may have to either dig a little deeper or find a better place to do it.

However, you’re going to have to purify it before drinking because what you’ll find… it’s not gonna look pretty.

From wells

If there are households around, there has to be a well nearby. Just make sure you don’t get shot for trespassing.

From moss

Just squeeze it really hard into a pot or a can and don’t forget to filter and purify it.

Final word…

Even though water is super-important in a survival situation, please keep in mind there are others that are even more important. Never gamble your life for some water; there are always other places to find more.


Growing up in a small 2nd world country, Dan learned from a young age to love nature, animals and living with little or no money. He started writing about survival when he got tired by the lack of quality information and realized people just need the facts. Dan has declared war on fluff and is winning battle after battle with each article that he writes on SurvivalSullivan.com.

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