Survival Water Purification
by John Issac Elm
Water: the most basic and vital human need. With our modern lifestyles it's hard to imagine a world where water isn't readily available. A world where we turn on our faucet and nothing happens. It's important to remember though that your body isn't going to care what got you into a "waterless" place. It doesn't have to be TEOTWAWKI or a downed power grid. Something as simple (and absent-minded) as losing your way in the wild can put you in a situation where you will probably need to get a hold of water for drinking.
While a good many folks like going for adventures, few actually plan for the need to purify water during a survival situation. If you get lost in the mountains for hours on end, maybe days, and you then find a stream of dirty or stagnant water that looks to be too dirty to be good for human consumption you could be confronted with the dilemma of dying of dehydration at the moment or dying later (or at a minimum getting very sick) from drinking bacteria-infested water.
About 60% of the human body consists of water. Rehydration is thus essential in replacing water lost through sweating, perspiration, urinating and breathing heavily. A typical individual requires around 2 liters of water daily to replace the bodily fluids that are lost daily. If fluids are lost and not replenished, our cells shrink and stop working normally. This leads to overall dehydration, then fatigue, then hypothermia, then brain lock that could actually lead to death. In hot conditions, without continually replacing lost fluids, dehydration can set in as quickly as an hour. Living without water can be compared with a vehicle that could keep working without fuel: it simply ain't gonna happen. It has been established that an average man can continue living without food for roughly one month, but can survive for only 3-5 days without water - and that's in exceptional conditions.
If you're lost out in the wild for nearly 7 days, your body will slowly weaken and extreme dehydration may lead to death. Would you go for the dirty water and risk dying of water-related disease or infection later? Worldwide, at least 10 million people lose their lives to diseases which are water-related each year. Unpurified water might lead to severe dysentery characterized by diarrhea, fever and blood stool; cholera; typhoid; disease and infections caused by blood flukes and leeches. All of these diseases can easily result in death.
Survival preparedness, relating to water purification, is critical.
If you find yourself lost in the mountains as described before, the 1st priority is to look for water. In the mountains, water which is trapped between rocks may be located at the base of the mountains or cliffs. If that is far from what your location is, you can search for streams or stagnant water on the ground. The next priority will be to help make the water fit for your consumption. There are various different techniques you can use:1. Boiling
Boiling is thought to be the surest tactic to kill invisible and dangerous microbes. To boil water, you would require two things: a container that is fire-proof and matches to create a fire. If you don't possess a fire-proof container, then your next best choice is rock-boiling. To conduct the rock boiling you'll want to gather rocks and set them inside of the fire. When they get heated-up, transfer all of them to the container with the water. The warmth from the rocks is going to be transferred to the water and boil it. Whichever way you choose to boil your water, make sure it boils for at least 20 minutes.
Sunlight purification is the next best purification process in virtually any survival situation. However, this method is dependent upon the availability of sunlight. The only thing you require for sunlight purification is a clear PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) plastic bottle. If you put water inside the plastic bottle and expose it to sunlight for approximately Six hours, the water will be safe for drinking. How this works, is that the Ultra Violet A rays from the sun get rid of the harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites in the water. This method has been proven to terminate up to 99% of harmful microbes in water.
This should be the last option for survival water purification and ought to be applied solely as an emergency option. The tabs aren't approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and as such one uses them at your own risk. However, it is comforting to know the fact that the military pack these tablets in their survival kits. Use the tabs as directed on the label if you're ever in a situation when you cannot boil water and there is no sunlight to carry out the above purification techniques.
It is also worth mentioning that the above purification procedures can only be performed when the water to be purified is CLEAR. If you find dirty or cloudy water, it is vital that you filter it first before purification. One way to filter water that utilizes something you're certain to have on you no matter what is to strain the dirty water through a sock. If no clean sock is accessible, you can make a simple water filter making use of the bark of a tree to create a cone. You will need a knife to take a rectangular shaped section of bark off a tree. Then round up some small rocks to place at the bottom of the cone formed from the cut-out bark. Then you can place grass, sand and charcoal in layers. As you pass water through the cone, the visible dirt and chemical impurities are going to be removed. The invisible and hazardous microbes will not be removed through the filtering process, thus the necessity for a purification treatment.
As we had noted earlier, our bodies have to have water to live. Insufficient water in a survival situation could quickly trigger dehydration, fatigue, hypothermia, brain lock and, eventually, death. Tactics of purifying water are as vital as the techniques of finding water in such scenarios. Unfiltered, unpurified water is just about as useful as no water at all and should ONLY be consumed in the most desperate of circumstances. One should, therefore, prepare for the necessity to purify water when organizing a survival kit prior to going for any outdoor adventure. Survival preparedness, survival water purification and filtration are skills that are crucial in any survival situation.