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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Creating “The Plan” – Water – Part #1

It is commonly known that you can survive for at least a week without food; however, you can’t survive for more than a few days without water.  So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone reading this survival BLOG that I will be doing more than a single posting about water: getting it and making it safe to drink.

In North America and other industrialized parts of the world we tend to take water for granted.  You need water and you go turn the tap on and it flows freely (often wastefully) out of the facet.  But what if water no longer flowed freely out of the facet or if it was no longer “clean” potable water that came out?  Or perhaps, in a non-urban setting like the wilderness where and how would you obtain enough water for you and your loved to survive on?  NOTE: The average adult needs 64 ounces of water to drink per day and as much as 1 gallon per day in a hot, arid or strenuous situation – when you sweat a lot.  This does NOT include the water needed for cooking, washing and sanitation purposes.

Let’s tackle the urban setting first.  If you know in advance of an impending disaster and you can’t leave in time to avoid it; then you should be saving enough water to last you in every, pot, drinking glass, bottle, pitcher and storage container you have – including your bathtubs and sinks. 

Drinking water needs to be clean and free from debris, toxic elements/metals and living organisms.  Generally speaking, if you have obtained your water from a municipal (city) water system you won’t have to worry about debris being in your water (not so in the wilderness).  However, every municipality has their own standards for what is the acceptable amount of toxic elements, chemicals, metals and living organisms allowed in the water they supply to you.  While there are US Federal guidelines that say what the maximum amount of these materials allowed in “treated water” supplied by a municipality (measured in parts per million – or PPM for short) nothing is in place for being better than the Federal standard (which I think is not very good).  That’s why the quality of water varies so widely all over the United States (which is still better than most of the world).
  • Debris is visible to the naked human eye within a water sample.  Some common examples of debris include: dirt, sand, plant or vegetative matter, pieces of plastic, glass fragments, metal shavings, rocks and animal/human waste.  Large screen filtering should take care of this rather easily and as I said before, it’s not something normally needed to be dealt with from “treated water” from a municipality.
  • Toxic elements, chemicals and metals are still present in your everyday water supplied to you in an urban setting.  While your municipal water treatment facility remove much of these harmful things from your tap water; they will still leave some amount of them in it based on Federal regulations and standards and their own guidelines based on a certain amount of PPM.  Of course, this does not account for whatever gets back into your water supply from the water delivery system in your home (e.g., pipes).  You can buy and use water filters from the store to remove a much greater percentage (PPM) of this from your drinking water.
  • Living organisms like bacteria, protozoa, cysts and viruses can also be delivered to you in your municipal water supply.  Many store bought water filters will remove these from your drinking water based on the filter’s pore size.  A pore size is the size of the “holes” in the filter that can get through into your drinking water.  The pore size of most water filters is measured in “microns” or fractions of a “micron”.  You need to use the smallest pore size possible to filter out most of these living organisms.  However, you will NEVER filter out all of them so in survival mode it is ALWAYS recommended to do something to kill these microorganisms.  You can kill the microorganisms in several ways.  Heat: Boiling the water for 5-10 minutes will usually kill off just about anything living in the water.  Chemical treatments or Water purification tablets added to water will also kill off the microorganisms usually within several hours (although it might make the water taste “funny”).  Ultraviolet (UV) lighting when inserted into the water container will also kill off the microorganisms (timeframe will depend on the quantity of water, size/power of the UV light and the amount of living organisms).

To sum up the situation in an urban setting I recommend water filtration followed by water “treatment” like boiling when in doubt to the safety of the water you are getting from the facet.

Stay tuned for the next BLOG post that will continue with Creating “The Plan” – Water – Part #2.

Survival is a combination of preparedness plus a survival mindset. If you have the WILL to survive, the skills/knowledge to survive, as well as, some planning and preparation ▬ then you will ultimately survive. Don't wait until it is too late or your chances for survival will diminish accordingly. As always, good luck and know I am on your side. ~~ The Survival Guy