Access to water purification is essential to anyone in an emergency situation. When it comes to survival nothing is more important than having access to safe drinking water. The only exception being shelter if you find yourself in a hostile environment with extreme cold or rain where you could possibly die from the elements before you would die of dehydration.
When you ask most people what the most important thing to survival is, many people will say food. You can survive without food for up to a month but only three days without water. In fact if you are severely dehydrated, food could make you even more dehydrated because digestion requires water to process food. If you are in an emergency situation and are unsure of whether you will have safe drinking water available you would probably want to hold off eating any meat or anything else substantial until you can secure some water.
Before drinking any water you come across that doesn’t come out of a tap, you must always be sure to decontaminate it before consuming, especially during an emergency as you could possibly make a bad situation much worse. Unknown water sources can be contaminated by waterborne diseases caused by pathogenic micro organisms like Giardia, Cryptosporidium, E. coli or viruses like Hepatitis A. Infection is predominantly transmitted through contact with or consumption of infected water. Symptoms generally associated from drinking infected water are usually flu like symptoms, cramps, fever, vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms could kill you in an emergency situation if you are already dehydrated, weak or injured.
There are a few ways to decontaminate your water to make it safe to drink. We’ve listed some of the most popular water treatment methods to purify water. Remember to always filter your water first with a filter such as a t-shirt if the water is dirty or full of debris before you try any of the following methods.
Boiling water at a full boil for at least 2 minutes is the best way to disinfect your water. If you have access to a lot of water you may want to consider boiling it longer just to be safe. It is the only 100% guaranteed way to kill waterborne pathogens. While this won’t help with chemical contamination it is always your best choice for clean water from unknown water sources. Just another reason why you should always carry fire making tools with you or have them in an emergency kit.
Bleach is commonly used in large scale emergencies to disinfect water when natural disasters strike like tsunamis or hurricanes and local water supplies have been compromised. Although not as effective as boiling water this type of water treatment would be the next best thing as it will probably kill most waterborne pathogens. Make sure you use ordinary bleach that is unscented and in liquid form. The most common dosage to disinfect water is to add 2-4 drops of chlorine bleach to 1 US quart or liter of water. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes before drinking. If done correctly the water should have a slight chlorine smell to it.
These work pretty much the same way as using chlorine bleach. They are made specifically for water purification and are often used by campers and hikers to disinfect water in remote places in the wild. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully when using these products.
Using ultraviolet light to disinfect water is an attempt to imitate nature. Sunlight can destroy bacteria by exposing the pathogens in the water to the ultraviolet light. For this to work the water must be clear and not cloudy or dirty. Exposing water to direct sunlight for around 6 hours will help reduce your chances of getting sick if you have no other options available.
Water purification is essential to anyone interested in emergency preparedness. Make sure you have the ability to purify water in an emergency. This means having fire making tools, fuel, and chlorine bleach readily available in your emergency and survival kits.