Water should be one of your top priorities in a survival situation as a lack of water causes dehydration, lethargy, dizziness, headaches, confusion, and ultimately death. Even mild dehydration makes a survival situation even more difficult as it reduces endurance and impairs concentration.
Water is essential to life as more than 75% of your body is composed of fluids.
– supplies oxygen and nutrients to the cells
– helps rid the body of wastes
– serves as a natural air conditioning system
– is necessary for the digestion and absorption of food
– helps maintain proper muscle tone
Given normal conditions (at sea level, room temperature, and favorable humidity) the longest you can survive without water intake is 3 days. Your body loses fluid as a result of heat, stress, cold, and/or exertion and this water must be replaced to maintain life.
You need an absolute minimum of 2 liters a day to maintain efficient life as we lose 2-3 liters per day under normal conditions. With colder or warmer temperatures or with exercise, intake need increases. These extra factors may push the requirement to 1-2 gallons or more per day per person.
When thinking about water in a survival environment, there are three important areas that need to be thought about and prepared for – Obtaining, Cleaning, and Storing.
In my survival e-book I recommend that you keep at least 5 gallons per person in your home. Go buy it at your local grocery store and stick it in a closet. Easy. You might need that water for drinking as well as cooking and hygiene should a situation arise where your city/county water supply is disrupted.
If the disruption lasts longer than your stocked up supply does, you will obviously still need to obtain water.
A little water will be stored in your pipes and your hot water heater. Once that is exhausted it will be time to go outside. I am not a wilderness survival expert, but here are some basic ideas should the need for water procurement last indefinitely:
– have a map and know location of streams or other bodies of water and figure out where it would be possible to fill a container at the given source
– create a system for collecting rain water/dew – can be as easy as setting up a series of trashbags where water can gather
– when looking for a source of water outside remember that in general you can go downhill to find water
Cleaning (Purifying and Filtering)
Just having water is not enough, it must be potable (clean and drinkable). Only 1% of the earth’s water is available as a source of drinking in its current state.
Do you know how to purify water? If not, pick up some materials that can help you. You never know when having the ability to clean your water might make the difference between surviving and not.
Boiling water can be great for cleaning water gathered from natural sources. It is good because it will remove common bacteria. It is important to note that it will not remove foreign contaminants like radiation or heavy metals. A major limitation of boiling is that it requires energy. It a situation where energy is scarce, boiling may not be the easiest option.
In most places most of the time drinking rain water, dew, or clean melted snow without treatment is OK to do. An exception is when it has not rained/snowed for a long time as that water is bringing down all the bad stuff out of the air with it.
Considering that I am mostly talking about at home survival, I consider water filters more important than purifiers. Purifiers come in handy more in wilderness survival situations.
Filters are quick, can process a significant amount of water, and will also clean water. Purifiers often just kill the bad guys in the water.
Purifiers do have the advantage of being compact and easily carried. If you do plan on using purifying, chlorine is commonly suggested as a way to treat water in an emergency. Household chlorine bleach can do the trick in a jiffy.
If you pick up a couple of water cleaning products, you will not need to worry about about being able to clean your water. However, if it comes down to it, drink unpurified water because dehydration and its negative effects are guaranteed.
With all this water you have found and cleaned, you need to be able to store it.
When you are buying your minimum 5 gallons per person of water, consider commercial gallon bottles as they are cheap, easy to store, and last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. Tap water or purified bottle water is generally good for 6 months to a year if kept away from light. Note: When storing tap water do not use old milk jugs, instead use bottles that water or soda came in. Prepackaged water can last for several years.
If you see the storm/disaster situation coming and need larger short term storage you can:
– double up a trash bag and fill up
– fill up your bathtub – probably not drinking quality water without purification or filtering, but can be used for all other water needs
– fill up a survival-ready water container
Remember that water is heavy should you need to move it. Water weights about 2 pounds per quart or 8 pounds per gallon.
Again, this information is mainly based for home survival, but just in case – never drink sea water! It takes twice as much water to process it as you get from it so it will simply speed up the dehydration process.
Never drink urine even if filtered.
If you have little to no water, do not eat unless you have food that has a high water content like certain fruits or vegetables. It seems weird, but digestion requires water and you can go longer without food than water. An easy rule to follow is that you should not eat unless you have 2 quarts available for drinking.
There you go. You now have the knowledge. Start preparing today to have enough water no matter what is thrown at you.