You can live without a car, a television set, or a cell phone — but you can’t live long without water. Knowing how to find and purify water is a critical survival skill. You can’t always depend on water to flow freely from the tap in the kitchen.
The human body can survive only a few days without water, making a consistent source of water one of the most critical elements for survival. In this article, we will explore the various methods of finding and purifying water for urban survival situations.
Finding Water Sources for Urban Survival
The first step in obtaining safe drinking water is to find a water source. Here are some of the most common sources of water you are likely to find:
- Streams, rivers, and lakes are often the most available sources of water when the tap runs dry. However, you should always take time to purify the water before drinking it. Even sources that look clear and clean can contain bacteria, viruses, and parasites. You want to survive, not to get sick.
- Springs are a reliable source of water, as they are fed by underground aquifers and are less likely to be contaminated by surface water runoff. Check the find-a-spring map to see how far your home is from this excellent water source.
- Ponds and swamps are likely to contain stagnant water, but they can be a good source of drinking water, especially if they are fed by a spring or stream. No matter which source you draw water from, be sure to purify it before drinking.
- Rainwater collection is an excellent way to obtain safe drinking water. Make sure the collection container is clean and free of contaminants, and place a screen on top of the collection container to keep leaves and critters out of your water.
- Snow can be melted to obtain drinking water. It is important to note, however, that snow should not be eaten directly, as it can lower body temperature and cause dehydration.
How to Purify Water for Urban Survival
Gathering water is the first step, but you still should purify the water to make sure it is safe to drink. Standard methods of water purification include boiling, filtering, and using chemical treatments.
- Boiling is the simplest and most effective way to purify water. It kills or inactivates all types of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. To boil water, bring it to a rolling boil for at least one minute. Allow the water to cool, then drink away.
- Filtering water removes many of the contaminants, including bacteria, parasites, and sediment. There are several types of water filters available, including straw filters, gravity filters, and pump filters. If you’ve a water filter at home, you can use it. Check this filter for a type that’s handy and mobile.
- Chemical treatments can be used to purify water. These treatments are available in tablet or liquid form and are easy to use. Here is an example of the type of water treatment tablets I like to use.
Water Is Essential for Urban Survival
Finding and purifying water is a critical survival skill that can mean the difference between life and death in emergency or wilderness situations. Know where the sources are nearest you, and make sure you have the proper equipment and supplies for purifying the water. And remember that boiling for one minute is a simple and effective way to make sure the water you drink will make you stronger, not weaker.