Don't just pack enough water for the amount of time you'll be gone; throw in several extras. It's not fun or lightweight bringing bottles and bottles of water with you, but it's critical.
Why? In an emergency, people typically worry about having enough food, but lack of water is more dangerous. You can go several days without food, but not without water. Your body is 50 to 70 percent water and needs consistent fluids to prevent dehydration. Without water, you start to lose energy and your ability to think calmly --and you need both in a camping emergency.
If you're going camping in a mountainous or lakeside terrain, you may think bringing water is not a big deal; after all, there are running streams, babbling brooks and beautiful waterfalls around. Wrong! Presume that nature's waterways are polluted from animals. One contaminant, giardia lamblia, is a parasite that causes nausea, diarrhea and serious stomach problems. If you think lugging water for a family of four is problematic, try dealing with diarrhea out in the woods.
One option is to carry pouch waters which are easier to transport than bottled. Or, bring iodine tablets that dissolve in water, purifying it. Boiling water is another idea, but this takes time as well as the proper gear. When kids are involved, you may not have those options.
In 1798, poet Samuel Coleridge wrote, "Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink." The 21st century translation? Bring your own!