Caution: The information in this article is provided for educational use only. Please use this information at your own risk.
The Importance of Water
Humans and some animals can go long periods of time without eating food, but once you take water away it’s a whole different story. Our bodies are made up of 60% of water, our blood contains 92% water and our brain and muscles are made of 75% water. Water in our bodies is important because it acts as a transportation system. ALL ABOARD the water train! Nutrients and hormones are carried all throughout your body by water. Most importantly, it also helps remove nasty toxins by diluting them, we call this little trick…urinating. Also, water is our bodies natural lube, it cushions our joints and lubricates our eyes. Water is practically our engines oil.
So, let’s imagine you’re out hiking and get lost. You have enough food but you’re on your last gulp of water. Depending on how much energy you are exerting and also the weather you’re in, you may become dehydrated faster. On average, you need about 2-3 liters of water a day to make up for what is lost. Now let’s say that you lose about 5% of your total bodily fluids (this can start from sweat, tears, or urinating), that 5% of fluids lost will lead to thirst, nausea, and slight weakness. Once you lose a higher percentage of body fluids the symptoms get worse. It can result in impaired judgment, headaches, and tingling. It may feel that you’re intoxicated. Once you lose more than 15% of your bodily fluids then you have the risk of dying.
That being said, if you didn’t know the importance of water, now you do. All the symptoms listed above don’t happen in a week. They can happen within 1-2 days. Think about it this way, within 48 hours without water in a survival situation you can find yourself turning into a comatose raisin. To wrap this up, make water a priority when out in the wild. As long as you plan ahead for a trip you should be okay.
Where to find water in the Wild
Now that you understand the importance of water, plan a camping trip accordingly. Even some seasoned hikers can wander off and get lost. In addition, if you are a tourist or you’re out on a long road trip an incident can occur. In this article, we'll take a look at different ways and techniques to collect safe drinking water in the wild. Knowing these skills can help you find water in just about any environment on Earth.
One of the most important things you need to find if you’re stranded out in the wild is a water source. The most obvious place to find water is in a body of water like streams, rivers, and lakes. One way to find these types of sources is by following animals. Like humans, animals need water too, so be watchful for wildlife that may lead you to water. The following animals can help lead you to a water source. Bees or flies usually stay a couple miles away from a source of water. Be attentive to noise as well, if you hear a group of birds or ducks look up into the sky and see what direction they’re flying towards. Also, once the sun begins to set, you might hear some frogs. Frogs are a big indicator because they spend most of their lives in water. Although toads and some tree frogs spend most of their life outside of water, they eventually need to go back to a water source to mate and lay eggs.
However, if you don’t notice any animals, don’t panic. Try to stay on the move while conserving energy. When walking try to keep an eye out for animal tracks. These tracks may lead you to healthy grown vegetation which can be an indicator of nearby water. When you stop to rest, LISTEN. Listen to your surroundings, rivers can be heard at long distances in a quiet forest.
Further, if you notice where you’re stepping is becoming muddy, there may be some groundwater available. Try to find an area with the dampest ground. Usually, low lying areas can produce more water since water flows downhill. On your damp area, begin to dig a hole about 2-3 feet across and about a 1 foot deep. Gradually, water will begin to fill the hole. Keep in mind the water in this hole will be muddy, using a piece of clothing can help filter out some mud.
Above all, if you have found a water source, make sure that you have something to purify it with. Don’t ever assume that just because the water is really clear and pure looking that it will not contain ground contaminants. Freshwater springs may be safe to drink without purifying it but always be on the side of caution. You don’t want to become like the game Oregon Trail and die from dysentery. Considering this, you may contract giardia, hookworms, and cryptosporidiosis.
If you have no means of purifying water, you can use this method to collect drinking water.
Find a piece of clean clothes, if you don’t have any, choose the least dirty article of clothing. If you are wearing a t-shirt, this usually will be the cleanest since it has not come in contact with the ground. Now take that article of clothing and wrap it around your leg just above your shoe. Tie and secure it. If you have enough cloth, repeat on the other leg.
Now, during the morning, while there is still dew, walk through tall grass and shrubs, all the dew on vegetation will soak into that cloth. When you think that you’ve soaked up enough water squeeze out the water into a container. If you don’t have a container you can squeeze it out into your mouth or you can suck out of it. Dew is a pure form of water because it condenses out of the atmosphere UNLESS it formed on a contaminated surface like a poison ivy plant, etc…