“The time has come to get our houses in order…. There is a portent of stormy weather ahead to which we had better give heed” (President Gordon B. Hinckley “To the Boys and to the Men,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 53). Tragedy can strike at any time. We need to be ready, church leaders have counseled members for decades to be prepared in case of an emergency. With that counsel LDS members have been instructed to have a 72 hour kit in case of an emergency. Usually this involves food and supplies for 72 hours that one can survive on packed into a bucket, backpack, waterproof bag, or some other kind of container. However one thing that is typically missing is often times the most important resource in an emergency: water. Sure there may be a bottle of water, but under normal circumstances a human must consume at least a half a gallon of water a day to survive. That would add about 12 pounds to your lightweight 72 hour kit. There are a few items that are fairly inexpensive that can be added to a 72 hour kit that could help provide water for the whole family.
The first and what I think is the best item is a backpacking water filter. This is such a innovative device, basically it is a pump with a filter that you can pump drinkable water out of any non-chemically polluted water source. That means rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, rain puddles, etc would be fair game to drinking. As long as there is water near by your family will not die of dehydration. Some of these contraptions can pump over 300 gallons of water with have having to change filters. That is enough water for a family of 4 for six months. That is about 1 ton of water for a piece of equipment that weights less than one pound. You can pick one up at most camping stores for about $40.
The second piece that should be added to a 72 hour kit is water purification tablets. These weight less than a filter but cannot purify as much water. These also have a funny aftertaste, but funny tasting water is way better than just plain bad water. These can also be purchased at any camping store for $10-$15. A bottle of these tablets would be sufficient for the water needs of a family of 4 for about a week.
The third method is the oldest method in the book and that would be to boil the water. For this it would be the most convenient to have a container that water could be boiled in. It is also a good idea of have matches and a lighter in the 72 hour kit so that a fire could be made to boil the water that you find. A tinder source for getting a fire started is also a good idea for a 72 hour kit, the cheapest and easiest source would be any household cotton balls. These would help your fire come to life to purify the water that you will need to drink.