Survival Skills: Clean Drinking Water
Water and Survival Needs
Science tells us that the human body can live without food for weeks, in some cases even months. Water is something altogether different. Two-thirds of the human body consists of water. After oxygen, water is the single most important life sustaining element the body needs.
It is recommended to consume at minimum 64 oz of water each day. This suggestion is based on the average person on an average day (not hot or cold). Consider this; An average man on a hot day can lose a half a gallon of water through sweat alone. Let's face the facts: unless you have tons of money and are living completely off-grid you can forget about air conditioning in a survival setting. The suggestion would be to have well more than the recommended amount of water for each person per day!
Wild Water Sources
Before you go dipping into the creek, it is important to approach what I call "wild water sources" as contaminated! Until treated all wild water sources can be contaminated with disease-causing organisms. Just think of it as not fit for human consumption! Here are a few examples of wild water sources:
Wild water sources can be contaminated. Animals bathe in it, animals defecate in it, and there is the potential for chemical contaminants as well. Left untreated you are most likely drinking feces along with that thirst quenching water!
Now you could stock up on bottled water, and I understand that many people do. I personally do not want to have to try to store hundreds of cases of water. The amount of space needed to store that much water is less than ideal, let alone worry about the chemicals leaching from the plastic in a long-term storage scenario.
I have well water currently, yet in a survival scenario I will not likely have the electricity to power the pump. This is something I recently dealt with first hand after a devastating flood in West Virginia left me without power for a week.
We do have natural springs and creeks, as well as a river that borders our property. But you will never see me taking a drink straight from the creek without treating it first! Sure I may rinse off my hands in it and play with the kids. But I am not putting it in my body.
Hands down the best method of purification for water is boiling! Many water filters only clean about 84% of the chemicals and organisms found in water. Yes that's right! If you're using a filter pitcher or something similar that still leaves some room for YUCK in your cup!
During a recent power outage I used my Granite Ware 21 quart pot to boil water for purification. It was a life saver! Using my large pot, I was able to keep plenty of water on hand and available for use. It can be very heavy when full, so use caution when lifting. Having usable water is well worth the physical labor.
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For water to be safe to drink it only needs to reach 185 degrees Fahrenheit, well before the boiling point. Allowing it to boil is just visual proof that it is indeed safe to consume!
Now that you know how to purify your wild water sources, how will you store it? There are many food-safe barrels that can be purchased, from buckets to 55 gallon barrels. Often times you can find these on Craigslist, Facebook, yard sale groups, or ads in the newspaper. Sometimes restaurants and schools offer these free for pickup. These items are UV resistant and food grade, and will keep your water safe during storage.
In a pinch, if you do not have the ability to boil water, sunlight can be used to purify your water. All you need is a clear bottle and set it in direct sunlight for 6 hours. Although this method is not that fast, if you are thirsty it is worth the wait. This will be hard to do if you're in the wilderness as well. Although it can be a less labor intensive form of purification. I find boiling more convenient and if I need to I can build a fire and use my pots on an open flame.
With the ability to purify wild water sources so easily, this should be your first goal in a survival setting. As it is the main thing your family will need to survive long term.
During our power outage we were cut off due to flood waters covering our bridge. I boiled water to do the dishes. Even washing with a wild source of water without treating it can lead to illness, since you will still come in contact with bacteria if you do not purify it first.
Easy Water Purification
There are easier ways to purify water than boiling, or setting water in the sunshine, though these ways are a bit more costly. Here are some other water purification methods:
- Water purification tablets
- LifeStraw personal water purification
- Water distillation unit
- Electromagnetic radiation purifier
These methods are all fairly costly. My personal favorite among these is using water purification tablets. If you are camping, or find yourself out in the woods and needing a drink, the purification tablets are very handy. They are also relatively small, so you can carry them without breaking your back. Purification tablets are the cheapest alternative to boiling water for purification. They are really easy to use, I have used them in the past with much success. It is much less labor intensive to use a tablet as well. A single tablet can purify a liter of water.
Easy Water Purification Options
Water purification tablets are much less labor intensive than other forms of purification. One tablet can treat a liter of water, making it fit to drink. These tablets have come in very handy for me in the past during power outages. I've used them to purify my water, as well as water for my animals.
© 2016 Cynthia Hoover
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