There are certain climates and geographic locations where finding water will either be extremely easy or nearly impossible. You’ll have to take your location into account when you read the following. Captain Dave’s best suggestion: Buy a guide book tailored for your location, be it desert, jungle, arctic or temperate clime.
Wherever you live, your best bet for finding a source of water is to scout out suitable locations and stock up necessary equipment before an emergency befalls you. With proper preparedness, you should know not only the location of the nearest streams, springs or other water source but also specific locations where it would be easy to fill a container and the safest way to get it home. Often even dry stream beds will reveal water if you dig in them. Small amounts of water can be soaked up with a cloth that is then rung out into a larger containment vessel. This is a slow process, but if it is the only source of water, it is worth it. You can use the same technique to gather dew off plants early in the morning.
Preparedness also means having on hand an easily installable system for collecting rain water. Many people use 55-gallon rain barrels to capture rain from their roof tops as it pours down their gutter spouts. During non-emergencies, this water can be used for watering gardens, but this is an excellent system and can be easily adapted to capturing water for household use during an emergency. Rain water is often preferred for clothes washing as it is naturally soft water. Even rainwater should be filtered, boiled or otherwise purified before drinking and use for food preparation.
Another option is to spread large tarps or sheets of plastic to capture rain. By tilting the tarps, collected water can be capture in barrels and other containers for storage and later use.
However you collect water, remember that your filters will last longer and perform better if you give them a source of water that is largely free of debris, grit, sand and other sediment. If you have a cloudy water source, allowing the water to rest for some time will cause some of the dirt to drop to the bottom. This allows the cleaner water to be scooped or siphoned from the top.