It’s Not Just Water
What you need to know about sources, filtering, and staying alive.
In this article, we’ll explore our thirst with water that most preppers ask us. We will examine the various aspects about water from how to acquire it, purify it for drinking and long-term storage.
Do you remember as a child drinking water from the garden hose or from a stream in the woods when you were thirsty? Now, parents have become paranoid about invisible dangers that lurk inside clean drinking water. The most common form of death worldwide that can be associated with drinking unsafe water is Diarrhea. In the 1980’s, it was claimed that a child died from Diarrhea ever six seconds due to unsafe drinking water. I don’t think this was necessarily true so much in the developed world like the United States where filtration and treatment plants are held to rigid EPA standards.
Globally, more than 3.4 million people die each year from a water related disease. If this was not enough, close to 780 million people lack access to clean drinking water. This is 2.5 times more than the entire population of the United States.
Over the past few decades, there have been great advancements in the water processing industry and the introduction of Fluoride into the water (although some have claimed a conspiracy to sterilize the population) but nonetheless water-related deaths in the United States has diminished significantly.
The discussion here however goes deeper than just going to the faucet and filling all the water jugs, sinks, bathtubs, or other containers in the event of a catastrophic disaster or civil unrest. The thing we need to remember is that the human body can survive for extended periods of time (sometimes weeks but not easily) however, without water the body cannot go for more than 3 days. The good rule of thumb is 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food and you’re dead!
So, what do we do about water shortages? How many times have you received a boil water advisory? As a result, most preppers are looking into short and long term water storage.
How long can you store water? Well, that all depends on the “type” of water you are storing. I know you are asking yourself, is there any other type? The fact is, yes there is. There are several types of water such as Tap, Distilled, Purified, Bottled, etc. According to The Department of Homeland Security, they recommend that every household store at least one gallon of water per person per day for three days. Dissecting this, one would need to carry around 3 gallons of water (24 lbs @ 8 lbs per gallon.) just to stay alive for 3 days without even thinking about carrying any other form of survival gear!
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that you can store regular tap water in clean vessels suitable for storing water for up to six months. They recommend that you rotate your water stock because bacteria and algae can accumulate inside the container which is not much of an appetizing image when one is thirsty. Storage of cases of plastic disposable water bottles is not a bad idea but remember that these containers are designed to be biodegradable and must be kept from UV lighting.
There are some other types of commercial off the shelf storage options. Several movies like Cormack McCarthy’s “The Road”, where an epic scene of nuclear fallout forces a character to fill the bathtub with water. The average bathtub can store up to 100 gallons of water. But who keeps their bathtub sterile and clean at all times? One solution is the Water Bob and is quite simple, it is a water bladder that you unfold into your tub and fill it. It is made of FDA food grade 10 mil. plastic and comes with a hand siphon pump. The average retail for this is about $20 bucks, which is a great option to have if you are “bugging-in” but unfortunately, the problem is it takes up the entire bathtub and creates difficulty unless you have a second bathroom.
After Hurricane Katrina, large percentages of the employees comprising the Utility, Fire, Police, EMS, and Medical fields abandoned their posts. This resulted in thousands of homes under water due to flooding. Consider that leaving your home might just be the only option you have and carrying around a 100-gallon water bladder is just not reasonable.
Drinking water also comes in small pouches that you can find online for pennies on the dollar and they are small enough to fit into your GO bag but there is still no way to carry 3 gallons of water plus everything else you need.
So, what do you do? The other option is to purify, boil, or distill your water “on-the-fly” as you go. It is a common fact that there are plenty of lakes and streams of water but none of them are potable to the extent you would risk severe Diarrhea and dysentery over. Since boiling water is the easiest way to get access to safe drinking water, one could find water, get it into a vessel, go through the process of starting a fire, getting the water to a full rolling boil for one minute, wait for it to cool, then use it. This process could take over a half hour to an hour to complete from start to stop in an emergency situation. Plus, you must also consider that lighting a fire might give your position away. If you have found suitable shelter for you and your family on the go, you may not wish to attract attention by lighting a fire (unless you know how to do it right – more on this in our next issue).
Alternatively, you can use various methods of distillation that does not use fire such as in sunlight using the drip filtration method but this has to be done in sunlight during the day. You could spend your entire day in one place and never get more than a quart of water this way. You can carry around purification tablets or bleach and treat your water but you still must face drinking chemicals that you may or may not measure accurately. This is a risk that you have to assume when attempting to maintain a healthy water supply on the go.
Water purification products like the Frontier and Life Straw Personal Water Filtration which are suitable for single person use at best and do not offer filtration down to the micron level to filter out all forms of bacteria and viruses that are often found in grey water situations. As we have alluded throughout this article, water is one of the heaviest supplies that you will carry and it is NOT optional. The LifeSaver Systems can produce pure clean drinking water from unusual sources such as ponds, streams, puddles, pools, and other sources you would not even consider. Filtration systems such as this, use an activated carbon filter to remove any bad odor associated with contaminants.
The bottle is portable, lightweight (which is extremely important) and can filter up to 1,500 gallons of water! There are absolutely zero chemicals to contend with and it will filter water on demand down to the lowest micron level to filter out the smallest recorded virus known to man.
The bottle can produce gallons of water at a time with no wait and can be used to fill up other containers. You can filter water to cook or clean with if you wish and one bottle is capable of providing enough water for a small family of four if you conserve your water usage. Replacement filters are also available and can be stockpiled so the device can last a long time. Care should be taken once the Carbon Filter becomes wet and must remain wet never being allowed to freeze or dry out.
If you should choose to store your water, you should pick a suitable vessel. The common mistake is to use plastic that can seep dangerous chemicals back into the food or water you are storing. The good thing to remember is to use BPA free containers. BPA based plastics act as an endocrine system disrupter that acts like estrogen, which is linked to cancer, imbalanced hormones, and can have a harmful effect on unborn children, babies, and young children. There are a lot of medical issues such as Thyroid, Neurological, and Heart problems documented to be associated with BPA plastics. There are common recycle logos that you will find on plastics ranging from 1 – 7. This is called the “Resin Identification Code” (RIC). If you are using plastic to store food or water, refer to the chart on the left.
There will always be a time when you will be searching for water in the field. Since water is life, it is important in this issue that we give you some ideas on where you can find water when water might not be available.
The main thing to remember with natural or man-made water sources is that there are several dangers associated with drinking it such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia and other protozoa, which WILL make you sick and you could die if you drink it without using some of the previously mentioned purification techniques.
Water is just about everywhere on the planet if you know where to get it. Here are some guidelines and recommendations:
Snow / Ice are good sources for water if you are in a frigid or winter area. You must melt and purify this water first DO NOT eat this without melting it. Eating snow or ice can reduce your body temperature and cause dehydration and possibly lower your core temperature to where you could go into hyperthermia. The key thing to remember is that snow or ice is only as pure as its source.
Rain is a great source of water so long as you catch the water before it hits the ground by catching it with a tarp and diverting it to a container or vessel. You can drink rainwater, however, remember that there may be other airborne, cloud, or surface based contaminants, so you are better served to purify the water first before you consume it. Sea / Salt Water is never good to drink on its own. You should take measures to boil and de-salt the water through distillation. Caution, NEVER consume seawater directly.
Other sources of water can be found by looking in rock crevasses, squeezing moss, morning dew, condensation, rivers, lakes, pools, and streams—the obvious sources. Digging a deep hole in the beach and letting the water flow in may be a good way to get water but this must be boiled and distilled. If you don’t have a distiller, you can boil the water and catch the steam in a clean cloth and squeeze this into a container. The process takes a while but you still have to be concerned with surface contaminants and if the cloth becomes salty, it must be washed.
The most important thing to remember is if you find water; never drink it without processing it in some form or fashion. Urine contains harmful body waste and is roughly 2% salt so despite what others may say, it is dangerous to drink. If you must drink urine, it should be filtered, distilled or processed, and it should ONLY be your own. Never drink any other body fluids like blood. Blood requires water to digest and also may contain disease pathogens.
Whether or not you decide to stockpile water bottles, fill your bathtub or buy elaborate distillation units, the key thing to remember is if you have to leave, you may not be able to carry this water supply with you. We recommend that you prepare for home or mobile water preparedness. Ensure that you have the ability to go mobile. It will be impossible to carry a 100-gallon WaterBOB® bladder on your back. Remember, water weighs approximately 8 pounds per gallon! This means that the FEMA recommended 1 gallon per day for 3 days would be roughly 24 pounds per person! Imagine if your child can carry his or her own water or will you be required to do it for them, plus any other necessary items. It’s good to have a filtration plan whether it is a filtration bottle or straw.