How to Survive a Drought

You have a better chance of coping with a drought if you plan for it, so develop a strategy to use when a drought occurs. If all else fails, follow these tips to conserve water:

In the Kitchen

  • Buy bottled water and store it. Be sure to rotate the stored water so it does not go bad.
  • Store drinking water in the refrigerator. Don't let the tap run while you are waiting for water to cool.
  • Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator, or use the defrost setting on your microwave.
  • Do not waste water waiting for it to get hot. Capture it for other uses such as plant watering or heat it on the stove or in a microwave.
  • Clean vegetables in a pan filled with water rather than running water from the tap. Re-use the water that vegetables are washed in for cleaning or watering plants.
  • Wash dishes by hand. When hand washing dishes, save water by filling two containers - one with soapy water and the other with rinse water containing a small amount of chlorine bleach.
  • Dishwashers use up to 14 gallons of water per load, but if you must use one, be sure to wash only when your machine is full, not wasting precious water for only a few items.
  • Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it. Use it to water your indoor plants or garden.

In the Bathroom

  • Time showers to five minutes.
  • Place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water for watering plants. Turn the water on to get wet; turn off to lather up; then turn the water back on to rinse. Repeat when washing your hair.
  • Don't leave the water running when shaving or brushing your teeth. Fill a cup with water for brushing teeth. Stop up the basin and fill with water for shaving.
  • Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects, and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
  • Place a 12 to 20 ounce plastic bottle in a toilet tank to displace water that fills for waster disposal.


  • Wash clothes less often. When you do your laundry, only wash full loads.
  • Wash with cold or warm water.
  • Hand wash 1 or 2 items of clothing at a time when you can.

When Washing Your Car

  • Use a car wash. Instead of washing your car yourself, take it to a car wash where recycled water is used. If you're worried about the added expense, cut back on the number of times you wash your car.
  • If you insist on washing your own car, park on the grass so that you will be watering it at the same time.


  • Don't over-water your lawn. Lawns only need to be watered every five to seven days in the summer, and every 10 to 14 days in the winter. A heavy rain eliminates the need for watering for up to two weeks.
  • Position sprinklers so water lands on the lawn and shrubs and not on paved areas.
  • Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. A garden hose can pour out 600 gallons or more in only a few hours.

Heed restrictions

Keep in mind that during a drought, officials may recommend (and sometimes require) water restriction measures that include such procedures as watering lawns and washing cars on odd or even days of the week, at night, or on weekends. The restrictions may limit hours or prohibit use of water, or require use of hand watering instead of using sprinkler systems that use much more water. You should check with your local authorities or water utility for information on water restrictions that may be imposed for your area.