Challenge Yourself to Be Better Prepared for Water Shortages

As we’ve mentioned before on Well Prepared, it’s important to practice what you think you’re prepared to do so you know the best ways out of a difficult situation. One such situation you might wind up in is a water shortage. So we’ve set up a little challenge for you and your family to undertake to prepare yourselves for this kind of disaster.

Take the leap into Water Prepping

Before starting with this challenge, be sure to familiarize yourself with our recommendations for minimum water storage and supplies. For this challenge, store one gallon of water per person. So if you have a small family of three, pack three gallons. This water will not only be used for drinking, but will also be used for a variety of other uses as well, including personal hygiene and laundry.

Water filter, filtration systems, non-electric purifiers

Consider the following stats from USGS that show typical water use at home for an American family:

Bath A “full tub” varies, of course, but 36 gallons is good average amount.
Tip: Taking a shower instead of a bath should save a good bit of water.
Shower Old showers used to use up to 5 gallons of water per minute. Water-saving shower heads produce about 2 gallons per minute.
Tip: Taking a shorter shower using a low-flow showerhead saves lots of water.
Teeth brushing <1 gallon. Newer bath faucets use about 1 gallon per minute, whereas older models use over 2 gallons.
Tip: Simply turn the faucet off when brushing teeth.
Hands/face washing 1 gallon
Tip: Simply turn the faucet off before drying your hands and face. If you don’t mind a brisk wash, don’t run the faucet until it gets hot before using it. Installing a faucet-head aerator will also reduce the water flow rate.
Face/leg shaving 1 gallon
Tip: Simply turn the faucet off when shaving.
Dishwasher 6-16 gallons. Newer, EnergyStar models use 6 gallons or less per wash cycle, whereas older dishwashers might use up to 16 gallons per cycle.
Tip: EnergyStar dishwashers not only save a lot of water but also save electricity.
Dish washing by hand: About 8-27 gallons. This all depends on how efficient you are at hand-washing dishes. Newer kitchen faucets use about 1.5-2 gallons per minutes, whereas older faucets use more.
Tip: Efficient hand-washing techniques include installing an aerator in your faucet head and scraping food off, soaking dishes in a basin of soapy water before getting started, and not letting the water run while you wash every dish. And it’s best to have two basins to work in–one with hot, soapy water and the other with warm water for a rinse.
Clothes washer 25 gallons/load for newer washers. Older models might use about 40 gallons per load.
Tip: EnergyStar clothes washers not only save a lot of water but also save electricity.
Toilet flush 3 gallons. Most all new toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush, but many older toilets used about 4 gallons.
Tip: Check for toilet leaks! Adjust the water level in your tank. But, best to install a new low-flow toilet..
Glasses of water you drank 8 oz. per small glass (not counting water for Fido or your cats). Also, note that you will be using water for cooking.
Outdoor watering 2 gallons per minute, depending on the force of your outdoor faucet. This may not sound like too much but the large size of lawns and yards means outdoor water use can be a significant use of water.


The average person uses 80-100 gallons of water each day. Try to survive on just one gallon a day, and you’ll see how absolutely minimal one gallon per person really is. You’ll quickly realize that one gallon per person isn’t going to be easy, but for the sake of this challenge, try to do it and see how you do.

Once you’ve completed this challenge, you might want to sit down with your family and formulate a much better plan for not only increasing water storage, but conserving the water you do save. You may want to try and save 2-5 gallons of water per person per day for emergencies, depending on your family’s preferences.