Urban Survival Guide – How to Survive a Drought

A drought by definition is a period of time ranging anywhere from several months to several years in which an area experiences a deficiency in its water supply. Nearly every part of the US will go through periods of reduced rainfall but droughts are increasing worldwide and becoming more common. By having a better understand of the types of damage a drought can cause, we can better prepare and make plans to counter the disaster situations created by droughts.

How to Collect Water During a Drought

It’s been estimated by the United Nations that an area the size of Ukraine worth of fertile soil is being lost every year due to droughts and desertification. Droughts may not be on the front page of our newspapers just yet but it’s a safe bet that within our life time water deficiency will become a huge issue. Start preparing now before it’s too late!

Rain Water Catchment System
Having a rain water catchment system installed on your roof is your safest bet. It’s never been easier to have it installed as 100’s of businesses across the country have sprung up supplying large water tanks and the services required to get them installed. A rain water catchment system works by collecting rain water on your roof into large water tanks that can then be used when times get tough and your taps are running dry.

Store Water
Storing water is easy and if properly done it can be stored for an almost indefinite amount of time. There are stories of older couple’s drinking water that they’ve been storing for 20+ years with no ill effects. Specialized water containers can be bought at just about any hardware store and can be stored safely in your house. Keep in mind though that if the container breaks for whatever reason, you could end up with a small flood in your house, take that into consideration. If you choose to store water outside of your house, it’s recommended that you store it on the North side of your house as UV’s from the sun will deteriorate the container faster.

Plant Trees and Shrubs
Aside from storing water, there are a few other things you can do to make your life easier during a drought. Plant trees and shrubs that are suited for low moisture soil. The deeper root systems of shrubs and trees will help protect the soil and keep moisture in. Trees and shrubs will also provide valuable shade to the smaller productive plants in your garden/lawn. You should also consider getting a drip irrigation system for your garden as it requires a lot less water to keep your soil/plants healthy since less water will be evaporated by the sun.

Store and Grow Food
Droughts can destroy crops and have a significant impact on the price of foods across the country. Looking back at history we’ve had about 3 major droughts in the US in the last 100 years, 1933-1938 (the “Dust Bowl”), 1953-1957, and 1988 (which caused crop losses of up to $15 000 000 000, yes… $15 Billion!). These droughts put a huge strain on food production causing food prices to skyrocket. You can prepare for this by growing foods that are better suited to droughts and storing food (either store bought or home grown). It’s advised that you take classes in canning and preserving as those old school skills will be needed more than ever. There are several books on food storage that will show you the best way to purchase and stockpile food and safely rotate your storage to minimize waste. We recommend:

Dealing with Dust Storms
Droughts dry up the soil which makes it easier for dust storms to happen. Dust storms are no joke and can make traveling outside almost impossible. If you’re caught unprepared in a dust storm you could very well die or be greatly impaired, as it can bring down visibility to almost zero, they can be very cold and dry, and they can damage your lungs if you breath in too much dust. To counter the effects of a dust storm you should have a scarf/buff and airtight goggles at the ready to protect your lungs and keep the particles out of your eyes.

Get Ready to Relocate
Although droughts will eventually subside, it’s possible that it can leave the land so dry and dead that urban survival will be extremely difficult. It’s also possible that due to climate change, your area will slowly become a desolate dessert where not a whole lot can live (it’s happening in many places as we speak). Because of these possibilities, you must be ready to leave your home and relocate to a more survivable location. To do this, you should have a vehicle with all the supplies you’ll need conveniently stored so that you can leave within several hours of packing and loading the vehicle.

In Conclusion
There are areas prone to droughts and others that aren’t. If you so happen to live in an area that has experienced a drought before, consider safeguarding yourself using the tactics listed above. The strategies covered will save you money and make your life easier when times get tough.