While many of us are armchair survival skills enthusiasts with less than a tenth of the skills of intrepid explorer Bear Grylls, knowing the basics of survival can mean that in any unfortunate dire situation you have a basic understanding of how to look after yourself. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that shelter and sustenance are at the base of everyone’s pyramid, and in the sustenance department, water is more important to your initial survival as dehydration can trigger hallucinations and major health issues quickly, especially in arid regions. So what are some of the easier ways to gather water and at the same time ensure that you are not drinking contaminated water, which can be more harmful than not drinking at all? With a little common sense and outdoor know-how, your water survival skills problems will be just a drop in the ocean.
Initially your survival skills need to point you to a source of water. Logically, water flows downhill with terrain towards the oceans and other larger masses of water, so moving downhill is usually the more fruitful method of discovering a source of water. Look around for animal tracks and flocks of birds in the air as well, as wildlife will tend to congregate around sources of water.
Using Natural Filters
Without water purification kits or sources of heat to boil water, Mother Nature needs to be harnessed to purify your drinking water. While tight mesh cloth and other items of clothing can be used to sift out most physical debris from the water, soil itself is one of the finest filters available in the wild delivering water almost as clear as that from your office water cooler rental unit. Simply digging another hole, fifty feet or so from the source should yield fresher, soil filtered water. This system can be used with sea water as well, however a further distance as is needed for further filtration of the salt. Other than that, using any type of solid tube like container (natural or man-made) filled with varying filtering compounds (crushed charcoal, sand, moss and rocks) can be used to filter harmful water, but not to clean at a bacterial level.
Easy Chemical Water Purification
While traditional survival programs will tell you to filter water, then create a fire and boil the water for at least ten minutes before drinking, other alternatives also exist should you have the means to them. Household bleach, in very small amounts, can purify water of all microscopic bacteria and therefore is an essential part of any household survival kit. The bleach must be pure liquid bleach, not powdered or scented in any way to be used and must be added in controlled amounts through an eye dropper. About 2 drops per litre of water should be used for clearer water and 4 drops for murky water, with a faint scent of chlorine after the process is completed, which takes around 30 minutes.
These two helpful hints should assist any survival enthusiast with finding drinkable water. Small additions to your kit and a bit of know how will serve you well, should the Mayans be correct in a few days.
Terrence Stoker is a freelance blogger, environmentalist and outdoor explorer. While understanding most of our water comes from mains water coolers, bottled water and home purifyers, when hiking Terrence found himself a touch thirsty and inspired to write a piece for others with a passion for the outdoors.