Preparing for emergencies: water shortages

In my previous post, I discussed what we do during power shortages. Now let’s move on to a situation when the tap isn’t running.

Drinking water – always keep a supply of fresh water on hand for drinking and cooking. A little while ago, a new family moved into the neighborhood and one day when the tap stopped flowing we went to check on them. It turned out that the mother was alone in the house with a nursing baby and had no water to drink. The oppressive heat outside made her reluctant to venture out and ask any of the neighbors for water, so she just sat hoping that the problem would be fixed soon (it wasn’t, until the next day). I dispatched the older children to her house with a couple of water bottles, which were gratefully received – but you don’t want to depend on the kindness of others in such situations.

Flushing the toilet – we have three bathrooms in the house, so the water in the toilet tanks is generally enough for flushing for a day or two, but remember that you don’t have to flush every time (even if it goes sorely against your habits). When there’s no running water, I tell my kids – pardon the details – to only flush when they poop.

Dishes and laundry – the key word here is prevention. Running water issues can be unexpected (a pipe suddenly busting due to excessive heat, for example), so I try not to procrastinate when it comes to dishes and laundry. I do my best to wash dishes right after a meal, and clothes as soon as I have a full load. There are few things more annoying than leaving a sinkful of dishes overnight saying, “I’ll do this tomorrow”, and then tomorrow brings no running water.

Disposable dishes – plastic plates and paper cups are not very classy, economical or environmentally friendly, but when you have no running water for a day or two they can be a sanity saver. Besides, my kitchen cupboards are small and I simply don’t have enough plates for the whole family to keep using for two days straight without the possibility to wash them. I always keep a stash of disposable kitchenware to be taken out as needed.

The garden – this can be a serious issue. 48 hours without water, combined with a heat wave, can easily kill plants, especially those which don’t have deep roots. In such cases, I cover young plants. I also cover some of my garden beds with a mulch of straw to prevent moisture loss.

Finally, I save the water from my baby’s bath and use that for watering the plants. It isn’t much, but it can help tide some plants over until water flows in the pipes again.

I do realize, however, that we need a larger water container for our plants, especially now that our garden is expanding. We are currently planning to set up a greywater tank that will hold all the water from our showers, to use in the garden.tomato

A thriving garden can be killed off very quickly by a combination of heat and lack of water.

Water cisterns – several families in our neighborhood have water cisterns that provide, on average, all their water needs for up to two days. When other people have no running water, they carry on as usual – cooking, bathing, doing laundry – and hardly notice anything is amiss, except perhaps a little reduced water pressure. We are considering making an investment and installing such a cistern, which will eliminate nearly all water-related issues from our lives. The cistern will need to be set up above our house, so that the water runs down by force of gravity.

Electricity and running water are two things that, in the developed world at least, are considered so basic we usually take them for granted. When they are suddenly taken away, people are prone to panic. However, short-term power and water issues are easy enough to deal with, and need not disrupt your daily life – if you are prepared.


Author: Anna

An Orthodox Jewish wife and mother enjoying a simple life with her family and chickens, somewhere in the hills, in Israel.

5 thoughts on “Preparing for emergencies: water shortages”

  1. I love reading your blog and have been for many years. You inspire me as well as teach me so much. I love hearing/learning about life in Israel. I have a question. You mention using the baby’s bathwater, and maybe later all your white water from your home, on the garden. Do you find the soaps bother the plants? I have wanted to set something like this up for our white water and especially our washer, but I have been reluctant to worrying that it would affect the plants adversely. We live in the desert southwest of the US, and so our climate is very similar to yours. Re-using the water would help with our water bills and also help us be good stewards of what we have been given! Thanks again for sharing on your blog. I thoroughly enjoy it!


    1. Karen, thanks so much for your comment, it’s lovely to hear from you.
      I suppose it would depend on how much soap you actually use in your shower/laundry. I try to use as little detergent as possible, and to use my own homemade mild soap for washing clothes, so I think it would be OK to recycle this water in the garden. Trial and error is the ultimate way to learn, though!


  2. Great question Karen: If you try it and it is OK, would you let us know on here? Also, what type of soap you used that was ok for plants? I did have a thought come to mind, as a “suggestion”…if you have any pesky weeds that are around anywhere, try your white water on them first and see what it does? If it does not harm the weeds, then try putting some only on one plant and see if it still thrives, before trying it on all of them at one time. Also, as an aside on this, if you pour it on a pesky weed and it kills that weed, then you’ve just discovered a totally Free$ way of killing weeds! (Since you are going to throw away the white water anyway! If it kills weeds, let me know that too please! As I sure have enough of those too in my yard)!


    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s so true Anna! Which is why I say, let us know what type of soap she uses, IF, it kills weeds! Wouldn’t that be just so fantastic to be able to kill all those pesky weeds, basically for “Free”? I love reading books on the Pioneer Days of our country here in America! Books like Little House On The Prairie and Janet Oke’s “Love…” Series of Books! Love Comes Softly, Loves Enduring Promise, Loves Lasting…etc. As well as the “Firefox” series. Have you read any of these type books? Don’t they often mention the wife doing her dishes and then throwing the dishwater out either on the rose bushes or into the garden? I always wondered how the “soap” used in the dishwater didn’t damage the roses or the garden plants?

        BTW, (By the Way)….you mentioned that you made your own soap. Do you have a blog where you have already shared your soap making recipe on your blog here? If so, could you put in a URL link to it? Or, if not yet, would you consider sharing your recipe for making your mild soap with us? (As you know, I don’t want to use the pig fat to make my soap! Can you make soap with bovine fats)? Both for like the “bar” soaps, for bathing, hand washing, etc., as well as also for, liquid soaps, for dishes, laundry, shampoo, etc.

        Thanks again! Glad that I found your blog on fb! In what part of Yisra’el do you live?

        Liked by 1 person

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