WATER, it is so taken for granted. Our bodies are about 60% water. It sustains every cell in our bodies. If ever you are in a survival situation, knowing how to find, collect and purify water are essential. Knowing the basics could keep you alive.
As a former US Navy Survival instructor, Assistant Boy Scout leader and a lecturer on survival, here are the basics I have taught concerning water and survival:
Finding and Collecting Water:
As a safety precaution, if at all possible, purify any water before you drink it.
A general guide line is to drink about two quarts of water per day.
- Running water is generally better than still water.
- Water coming out of the ground from a spring is generally more pure than water that has been running over the ground. Look for clear water.
- Avoid water that has algae growing in it.
- Avoid discolored water.
- Avoid water in marshes and swamps.
- Standing water may collect after a resent rain in puddles or rock crevices.
- Early morning dew can be collected by wrapping material around your ankles and walking through fields early in the mornings.
- Basic solar still is with a plastic bag- Insert green edible vegetation, tie off, rest on incline with vegetation on top, allowing moisture to settle on bottom. It will need a lot direct sunshine.
- Melt snow, never eat frozen.
Some plant life offer small amounts of water,
- Bamboo collects water in the different sections.
- Vines should be checked for clear fluid not sappy or bitter.
- The barrel cactus has a nasty pulp that can supply life sustaining fluid in the desert.
If on an ocean shoreline, dig a hole past the second sand dune (or at least 50ft away). A whole about 2 feet deep should produce brackish water with a lot of the salt filtered out.
Salt water can be distilled by boiling it and collecting the steam in an absorbent material
If you have the ability to boil your water, it is the easiest and most efficient process for purifying your water completely. Though, chemical purification will work also.
- Any container that holds water.
- Aluminum can
- Tin can
- Large shell
- Plastic bottle- Slowly and away from direct flame
- Glass jar
- Any recessed hole in dirt or rock surface. Add hot rocks
- Animal skin, entrails. Boil change water and repeat several times before consuming
- A US marine taught me that if you bring your water to a strong boil and wait 45 sec. It’s a pretty good bet that your water is safe to drink.
- To be safe you may wish to follow the advice of the US Environmental Protection Agency which recommends boiling for 1 full minute, or 3 minutes if you are 2000 meters above ground level.
- Start timing after you achieve a rolling boil.
If all you can do is filter, try and get your water as clear as possible before consuming
Use the following together or collectively:
Chemicals-always read the instructions
- Iodine– 2 drops per quart 4 if cloudy-Some people are allergic to iodine.
Allow at least 30 minutes to kill Giardia
- Chorine-Bleach– May be used for emergency disinfection. Add 2 drops of 5% bleach per liter or quart of clear water, then let stand covered for 30 to 60 minutes. After this it may be left open to reduce the chlorine smell and taste. Guidelines are available online for dangerous and effective use of bleach. USAID is promoting a similar product (a sodium hypochlorite solution) which is sold in developing countries specifically for the purpose of disinfecting drinking water.
Chlorine is slightly better than iodine against Giardia
- Neither chlorine (e.g., bleach) nor iodine alone is considered effective against Cryptosporidum and they are partially effective against Giardia.
- Silver ion/Chlorine Dioxide based tablets or droplets. Sold under names like Micropur Forte, Aquamira, and Pristine, these solutions can disinfect water more effectively than Iodine while leaving hardly any noticeable taste in the water. The disinfecting agent will kill Cryptosporidum and Giardia if utilized correctly. The primary downside is the purification time which is generally 30 minutes to 4 hours, depending on the formulation used.
- Water purification Chemical Tabs– Follow directions on container.