Droughts are prolonged periods of less-than-average rainfall. They can last from several weeks to years, causing significant hardship due to lack of water for drinking, cleaning, and watering crops. If you live in a drought-prone area, it will help if you take a few measures to ensure that you and your community are as prepared as possible if a drought hits.

Part 1
Part 1 of 3:

Gathering Emergency Water

  1. Serious droughts can result in water shortages that could last weeks or months. With proper rationing and conservation, however, you and your household can hold out for several weeks on stored drinking water. If you live in a drought-prone area, it would be a good idea to have a plan in place for what you'll do in the event of a drought. By drawing up a plan, you and your family can be prepared for when a drought does hit.
    • Humans require about 3/4 gallon of water daily just to live. Including water usage for sanitation, you should plan on each person in your household using a gallon of water per day. Keep this figure in mind when stocking or gathering water.[1]
    • Also bear in mind that certain people will require more water than others. Usually children, nursing mothers, and people with chronic illnesses need more than a gallon a day. If you have any of these particular cases in your household, plan accordingly and stock more water.[2]
    • Also keep some extra water stocked in case of a medical emergency. If someone gets sick or injured, they'll need to drink more to stay hydrated. You also will need the water to clean any wounds.[3]
    • Make sure everyone in your house knows the limits on water usage in the event of a drought.
    • If a situation gets dire and drinking water is getting scarce, don't ration to the point of dehydration. Lost hikers have been found dying of dehydration when they still had water left because they were trying to conserve. Drink what you need to stay alive.
  2. Remember that each person in your home will require at least a gallon of water daily. To be properly prepared, have enough bottled water to last your entire household at least a week. This water should be used as a last resort in a drought. Use it only if drinking water gets cut off entirely.[4]
  3. Thousands of gallons of water fall on your property every year. Take advantage of this by harvesting some of it. You can stock this rainwater for drought-conditions by using it to water your lawn and cleaning. In the meantime, you can use it to take a good chunk out of your water bill. Installing one is easy.[5]
    • Get a large drum (55 gallons is usually standard) from a hardware store. Get several if you plan on storing the water.
    • Place the drum under a downspout gutter and run the gutter into the drum.
    • If you don't have gutters on your house, place the drum under a section of your roof where water usually runs off.
    • Rainwater must be thoroughly filtered before drinking. You should generally only drink it in an emergency situation after boiling for three minutes.[6]
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Part 2
Part 2 of 3:

Conserving Water in Your Household

  1. Leaky pipes can waste thousands of gallons of water per year. Not only will this waste precious water if a drought hits, but it will run up your water bill during normal times. Thoroughly check your home for any leaks and repair them to increase your preparedness for a drought.
    • Check the faucets in your kitchen and bathrooms. Also look at the handles of faucets, since water can escape here as well.[7]
    • Check your toilet to make sure no water is escaping from the back of the tank into the bowl. Add food coloring to the tank. Don't flush and check back in 30 minutes. If there is color in the bowl, you have a leaky seal in the tank and should get it repaired.[8]
    • Take a reading of your water meter. Then wait 30 minutes without using any water and check it again. If there is any difference, you have a leak somewhere. If you can't locate it, call a plumber to investigate.[9]
  2. Household appliances often use much more water than they have to. Upgrade certain appliances in your home to water-efficient versions to save money and conserve water in the event of a drought.[10]
    • You can get a low-flow shower head to save water while you shower.
    • Install a low-volume toilet to avoid wasting water while flushing.[11]
  3. It is a bad habit to keep the faucet running when brushing your teeth or shaving. Instead, you'll save a lot of water by turning the faucet off while your brush or shave.[12]
  4. There are numerous ways that household water gets wasted. Instead of letting water flow down the drain, collect it and put it to better use.[13]
    • Think about when you run the shower or faucet and wait for the water to warm up. This can take several seconds to a minute, during which time water is running down the drain. Place a bucket in the sink or shower when you do this, then use that water for plants so you don't have to use the hose.
  5. Over-watering your lawn is a big waste of water. Lawns usually only need to be watered once a week during the summer. Set an alarm to remind you to turn off the sprinkler to avoid over-watering. Also, don't water if you've had heavy rain recently.[14]
    • Some localities, particularly in dry places, have laws about when you can water your lawn and for how long. If droughts are expected, governments may ban watering altogether. Check with your water company or county government to ensure that watering is permitted in your area before watering your lawn.
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Part 3
Part 3 of 3:

Preparing the Community

  1. Many towns in drought-prone areas meet regularly and discuss water policy. If you're concerned, you should attend these meetings and participate. Do all you can to promote efficient water usage. Give suggestions if you have them and, if you think it's necessary, organize local citizens to campaign for certain changes.[15]
    • Local governments often advertise meetings of this sort. Check local newspapers or your local government's website for notice of meetings.
    • If you can't find any meetings advertised, try calling your town or city hall and asking if any upcoming meetings will discuss water policy.
    • It's possible your local government doesn't discuss such issues. In this case, you can form a committee of citizens to petition the government to take action on water conservation. Read Be a Community Organizer for ideas on how to organize fellow citizens.
  2. Just as you took steps to conserve water in your own home, you can also petition the government to do the same. Organize citizens and call for water-efficient devices and practices in government buildings and offices.[16]
  3. For example, some restaurants serve water only upon request, which saves resources. Show your support for these establishments by using their services and telling your neighbors about them.[17]
  4. Water pollution is a big problem if a drought hits. The community will have less water it can use in the event of rationing if local rivers, streams, and lake are polluted. It is a matter of public interest to clean up local water sources to prepare for a drought.
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Community Q&A

  • Question
    What are some problems caused by a drought?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Most land will dry up and will not be good for farming, so there can be a food shortage. Depending on where you live, sandstorms could develop. Many animals die during a drought.
  • Question
    What is the actual definition of a drought?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    A drought is a period of below-average precipitation in a given region, resulting in prolonged shortages in its water supply, whether atmospheric, surface water or ground water. A drought can last for months or years, or may be declared after as few as 15 days
  • Question
    What is the first thing I should do if drought strikes my area?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Store as much water as possible, either from purchasing bottled water or decontaminating other sources of water via bleaching or boiling it.

About This Article

wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 43 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been viewed 209,376 times.
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Co-authors: 43
Updated: November 15, 2023
Views: 209,376
Article SummaryX

If you live in an area prone to droughts, you can prepare by making sure you have plenty of water. Stockpile bottled water in case of an emergency. You can also install a rain catch system and water filter if you plan on drinking water you collect from your gutters. Consider installing a low-flow shower head and a low-volume toilet to avoid wasting water in the bathroom in the event of a drought. If a drought does hit, use a bucket to collect water from your shower while it warms up and use this to water your plants or wash the dishes. You can also campaign your local government to practice water conservation so there will be more water available for households. For more tips, including how to help tackle water pollution in the event of a drought, read on!

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