Thursday, May 3, 2012
The Basics: Water
Water is one of the most important things we need to live, whether we're in a survival situation or not. So I thought I would go into some basics on water. Why would you need to filter it? Is bottled better than tap water? What about in a survival situation? This is what you need to know about water.
First lets start with the basics. Why do you need it? Well if you read the previous post on the Rule of Three, then you already know. Human beings are made up of 60% water, and as a result just being able to even function is dependant on having this water in our bodies.
You are considered dehydrated whe a person has lost 2% of their body weight. For example, if someone weighs 150lbs, then they have to lose three pounds of water. Thats seems like quite a bit. However doing strenous activities or not drinking for long periods of time can lead up to this quicker than you think.
Now, how much water do you need to drink? I'm sure you have all heard that rule of 8 glasses of water a day. Now have you actually tried to drink that much? Its doable, but not neccessary. You get water not just by drinking it but through other liquid sources like juices, coffee and tea, as well as food. Foods like fruits and vegetables are an especially good source of water. In fact a cucumber is 98% water! So your best bet is to drink if you feel thirsty.
Now on to some myths about water. There are a lot of people out there who say that bottled water is better than tap water. For some people that is true. If simply just because they like the taste better than tap water. In some countries around the world where water sources may not be as clean as they are in U.S. that is definatly true! There is a reason why people say don't drink the water in some places and you get names like montezuma's revenge. In these places bottled water is definatly the way to go.
However in the United States it really is a matter of preference whether or not bottled water is better than the tap or vice versa. In fact if you are drinking bottled water, you may still be drinking tap water. It is estimated that somewhere between twenty five and forty five percent of water comes from U.S. municipal water supplies. So much for spring water.
Another thing to consider is the cost of drinking bottled water. It is expensive to buy plastic water bottles at the store, at least compared to just using tap water in a glass. The demand for water bottles in the United States results in enough oil being used that it could have kept 100,000 cars on the road for year. It might be better if the water bottles were all recycled but most of those out there just end up in the trash and landfills.
One thing I will give to the water bottles though, is that if you want to store water, they are a great way to do so. As a result as a prepper I can't totally dismiss that water bottles are better than tap water, because when SHTF there may not be any tap water. For storing water bottles I would suggest that they get rotated just like other things in a survival pantry because chemicals in the plastic could possibly leak out into the water over time.
Now, what about some of the myths about drinking water? I found a great list of myths about water that is posted up on Survival Cache. It is a great website that is full of survival information and I will post a link at the bottom of the page so you guys can check it out. These Most of these seemed, to me at least, to be common sense, but they are certainly good to know.
The first is that running water is safe to drink. The Ganges River, Amazon River, and Nile River are all running water, and I would never think that it was safe to drink from those rivers without first purifying the water. As a result I have always just considered that drinking from any water source, could be just as bad or worse than drinking from those water sources. Now obviously running water will be a better bet than stagnant water, but there are multiple ways to purify water. I would say it is always a good idea to give purification methods a try before just drinking straight from a river or lake.
The second myth on the Survival Cache list was eathing snow is a great way to rehydrate. Again actual water is a better way to go, especially if it has been purified. However I am not going to say that you should never eat snow for a source of water. Some say the effort of warming up the snow can help further dehydrate you and others say it will lead to hypothermia. I say if its all you have, and there is no way to melt it, snow is still better than dehydration.
One thing you want to be aware of with snow is if it is discolored. This could mean that there is bacteria or contaminants in the snow. If this is the case, carefully brush off the top layer of contaminated snow, and there should be clean white snow further underneath it. If it is not clean however, don't eat it.
The third myth is that it is safe to drink salt water in small amounts. Well if you have a day at the beach and accidentally swallow some, then yes that is fairly safe. However for dehydration purposes, dont drink the salt water. The salt will dehydrate you faster and you will die quicker. Salt water should only be used to help cool you body down, not for drinking.
Water found in natural depressions is safe to drink. I don't know why anyone would think that a natural depression is going to make water any better than a man made depression. It won't. The water is still stagnant and should be avoided if at all possible. If its the only source of water you have. Definatly try to purify the water some how.
Myth number five is that you can stave off dehydration by drinking your urine. I don't know about anyone else, but unless I am literally on death's door, than no. Just no. I don't care if it is sterile. No. However if you are less of a girl on this subject than me, you can drink urine in an extreme emergency, but only once or twice.
The kidney filters out waste products from your body, and these are expelled in your urine. So basically by drinking urine, you are getting a little bit of moisture, but you are also adding all these toxins back to you body. To pass these waste products back out of your body, your body needs more water and has to work harder. One thing you could give a try in this situation however is creating a urine still to get pure water. If you can build one, it would be at the very least a more appitizing way of getting a little bit of water.
The final myth on the list is that barrel cacti are a great source of water. Now this is a myth that I learned wasn't true recently, though not through Survival Cache, but actually by watching Survivorman, which was actually one of the things that started me into survivalism in the first place. Barrel cacti look like barrels, and that is why they are called that. It doesn't mean that they are hollow and filled with water. In fact there isn't likely to be a lot of water in a barrel cactus. If your in an area where there are barrel cacti then there are likely other plants that will act as a better source of water if you need to survive.
So now you know the basics on water and what some of the myths are. Next time I will be going over different ways to filter and purify water. So if you have any questions on water, or you own ideas and methods for water filtration and purification, let me know! I will make sure to add these to the next post!