Finding water is a top priority in the wild. An adult can survive only a few days without water, but many weeks without food.
About 3/4 of the human body is water. Your body loses 0.5-1 gallon (2-3 liters) of water each day through sweating and urination, more if you are hot, exerting a lot of energy or are at high altitudes. This water must be replaced. Therefore, drink often.
Finding water is critical, if not, dehydration will inevitably occur. The symptoms you will face are thirst, weakness, decreased mental capacity, nausea, no appetite and dark colored urine.
To prevent water loss, rest, keep cool, stay in the shade, and seek shelter. Do not wait until you run out of water before you look for more. Your body doesn’t only get water from drinking water. Lots of foods contain water, good examples are fruit and vegetables, and any non-water fluid. However, avoid fatty foods, caffeinated beverages and alcohol as they trigger digestion to use up the fluids.
In most parts of the world, surface water is seldom pure. There are five basic waterborne contaminants: turbidity, toxic chemicals, bacteria, viruses and parasitic worms.
Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness of the water. Dangerous and toxic chemicals include, among others, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers from agricultural land. Bacteria and viruses can cause very serious illnesses, such as diarrhea and dysentery.
A common parasite is Giardia lamblia. It is found worldwide and within every region of the United States and has become recognized as one of the most common causes of waterborne diseases. Giardia lamblia causes diarrhea, which leads to dehydration.
There are three ways to treat suspected water: filtration, boiling and chemical water purification.
· Filtering water doesn’t purify it, but it reduces particles and sediment and makes the water taste better.
· Boiling is the most certain way of killing all microorganisms. However, boiling will NOT neutralize chemical pollutants.
· To purify water with chemicals, use water purification tablets that should be included in your survival kit.
There are microbial purification filters available that not only removes parasites as Giardia, but also kill waterborne bacteria and viruses. This type of water purifier filter makes your water even safer.
How To Find Water
Knowing how to find water in the wild is important. Actually, there are many ways you can find water, whether you are in a desert or forest.
First, look for surface water, such as streams, rivers and lakes. Running water such as springs or streams in isolated areas at high altitudes is probably safe for consumption. Be aware that, for instance, melted water from ice and glaciers contains bacteria in abundance. If you are not familiar with the area, and are unsure about the water quality, purify the water. Take no risk.
In areas where no surface water is available, dig into damp soil and allow this muddy water to settle and become clear or learn how to make a water filter. Be careful of stagnant water with little or no signs of life.
To increase your chances of finding water, look for the following:
· Valleys and low areas are places where water naturally drains.
· Rock crevices. Rainwater may have been collected.
· Muddy or damp ground.
· Patches of green vegetation indicate water of some sort.
· Places where animal tracks converge, maybe a water source nearby?
· Insects, as they often stay close to water.
· Birds, as they will often circle a watering hole.
How To Make A Water Filter
Knowing how to make a water filter is important, if the only water you can find is dirty muddy water. There are a number of different ways to make a water filter. One simple way is to use sand. Sand is nature’s way of purifying water.
Simple sand water filter
1. To start with, you need a container. If you can find a large, empty can, use it. Punch 5-10 holes in the bottom of the can. A large plastic bottle is also fine. Cut the end of the bottle off evenly. If there is no container available, you have to use what material that nature can provide, or that you brought with you.
If you find a birch tree, make a cone of birch bark. The cone will need to have a fairly small hole in the bottom. Tie the cone with rope to keep it from opening up.
2. First, you need to stop the sand to get out of the container.
Find some filter material you can place at the bottom. For instance:
• a couple of inches (centimeters) of pebbles.
• a grass mesh, make sure it’s nonpoisonous grass.
• or cotton material.
3. Add a layer of gravel. The main purpose of the gravel layer is to strengthen the filter material and prevent sand mixed with the water you get from the filter.
4. Fill your bottle or cone with sand.
5. Collect some water. Pour your collected water through the filter. Catch it in another container at the bottom. Look at the water that comes out of the filter. It should be clear. If not, you may have to pass the water through the filter more than once.
Now you know how to make a water filter, but to get safe water to drink, you also have to purify your water. The water may still contain harmful bacteria that your filter did not remove.
To improve your water filter, add a layer of charcoal between the gravel and sand layer. Get charcoal from your fire, crush it, not to powder but just fine gravel size.
Water Gathering Tools
Many survivors carry lightweight mylar ‘space blankets’ in their kits. These make excellent body heat retainers, shelters against weather, signaling panels for searchers, and water-gathering tools.
Rain is the purest water you can hope to find in the wilderness. If you catch it directly from the sky it needs no purification process and is safe to drink. A space blanket is an excellent tool for catching rainwater. Let the rain pool in the center of the blanket and empty it into your canteen, ziplock bag or other container often. I dig a shallow hole and just lay the blanket over it. The water will form a pool in the center of the blanket, making it easy to pour or scoop the water out.
If it doesn’t rain when you need it to, you can use your space blanket to create a solar still. Dig a hole in direct sunlight, spread a ‘donut’ of fresh greenery (more leaves than stems, please) in the hole and place an empty cup, a bowl, a ziplock bag or other water-holding vessel in the center of the ‘donut hole’. Stretch your mylar blanket over the hole and secure the edges with rocks or limbs. Place a stone on your blanket DIRECTLY above the cup or container in the ‘donut hole’, then leave it alone for a day. The blanket will create a greenhouse effect and “sweat” the moisture out of the greens. That moisture will condense on the underside of your blanket and the stone will make a depression in the blanket which will allow the condensation to run down and drip into the cup. Accuracy with the stone is important. Change the greens daily for routine use. If you have more blankets, make more stills. You can’t have ‘too much water’ in the wilderness; it’s a vital concern.
If all else fails, wrap two cotton Tshirts around your ankles and shins and walk thru the dewey morning grass. When the shirts become soaked with dew, wring them out and purify the water it or drink it directly.