Survival Basics – Water for Survival

Survival Basics water

It is possible for somebody to go weeks without food but when it comes to water for survival, it is a completely different story. Apart from oxygen, water is your body’s most important nutrient. If you wish to stay healthy, you must continually replenish your fluid supply. Failure to do so leads to your organs being unable to function properly.

In extreme heat, dehydration can set in in as little as an hour. Believe it or not, even in cold weather you will begin to become dehydrated with every breath that you take due to the cold air not being able to hold moisture.

Signs of Moderate Dehydration:

  • Thirst
  • Dry/Sticky Mouth
  • Dark Yellow Urine
  • Dry Skin
  • Headache
  • Muscle Cramps

Signs of Severe Dehydration:

  • Very Dark Yellow Urine
  • Dry Skin
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid Heartbeat and Breathing
  • Sunken Eyes
  • Sleepy, Lack of Energy
  • Confusion
  • Fainting

Signs of Dehydration in Babies and Young Children:

  • Dry Mouth/Tongue
  • No Tears When Crying
  • Dry Diapers for 3+ Hours
  • Sunken Eyes, Cheeks, Soft Spot on Top of Skull
  • Sleepiness, No Energy

How Long Can You Survive?

The average human can last between 3 – 5 days without water providing that you are not physically exerting yourself.

When it comes to how much water you should be drinking every day, the answers change no matter who you ask but the general idea is that you need to drink about 1/2 gallon of water a day but this depends on how active you are. Some experts even recommend that you should continuously sip on water throughout the day.

Water Storage

There are many reasons as to why you should learn about proper water storage but two big reasons are:

  1. The world’s supply of potable water is gradually becoming less accessible to us.
  2. A disaster can occur without any notice.

How Much Water to Store

It is widely recommended that we should store 1 gallon of water per person, per day. This breaks down to 1/2 gallon for drinking and 1/2 gallon for cooking and cleaning. You want to try and store a minimum of a two-week supply so for a single person it would need to be 12 gallons of water. As you can imagine, the numbers soon build up with the more members that you have in your family or group.

Choosing Water Storage Containers

Storing water is the easy part, ensuring it stays clean and safe takes a little more thought. Whilst water does not exactly expire, it is always best practice to rotate your supply as well as swap it out yearly to ensure that the environment hasn’t altered the water in any way.

If you are looking at long-term storage, you should consider looking into purchasing a larger 55-gallon barrel. Most blue water barrels are food-grade but be sure to check before you purchase. For larger families and groups, you may look into purchasing larger options or multiple 55-gallon barrels. If you do choose this option, remember that you will need a water pump to access the water.

If you are looking for something smaller than the 55-gallon barrels you could look into purchasing a 5-7 gallon portable water tank. These are good option if you need to make a quick exit.


As I mentioned earlier, water itself does not expire but the environment can and will alter its usability. When purchasing new containers you MUST disinfect them before adding any water for storage. Follow the simple steps below:

  1. Wash and rinse the container.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of unscented liquid bleach per litre of water.
  3. Coat the entire inside of the container with the solution.
  4. Let it sit for 30 seconds, pour out and then let it air dry.
  5. Add your clean water and cover tightly.

Making Water Safe for Storage

Water from the tap is usually already treated before it gets to you which makes it safe to store as is however, I always recommend that you still treat all water before putting in to storage. You have a few options here:

Purification Tablets – you will need to follow the instructions that come with the tablets as each brand will be different.

Boiling – boiling is more efficient in killing bacteria, viruses and parasites. Bring the water to a boil, let it cool and then bottle it up.

Chlorine Bleach – household bleach can be used for the same purpose as purification tablets. Mix 1/8 teaspoon (8 drops) of unscented household chlorine bleach per 1 gallon of water. Let it stand for 30 minutes and then store in clean containers.

Water FiltersPortable water filtration devices can be convenient for quick removal of bacteria, parasites, and heavy metals. Since most portable filters will not remove viruses, it is best used in combination with another disinfection method such as chlorination.

Distillation – the most effective method of water purification, as it will certainly rid the water of all bacteria, viruses, parasites, heavy metals and most other chemicals, but is a slow process and yields very little drinkable water at a time. The process works by collecting the condensation from the boiling process.

To distill water with a cooking pot, fill it about halfway with water. Turn the lid upside-down and tie a string from the lid handle to a cup so that the cup dangles above the water. When the water is boiled, the condensation will drip from the lid down into the cup. Boil for about 20 minutes. You can also purchase countertop water distillers that can typically produce up to 4 gallons of water per day.

There are other ways of collecting water both in and outside the home. In your home you can gather clean water from the toilets water tank (not the bowl), your hot water tank, and from melting ice cubes. Outside you can collect rainwater or gather it from local rivers and stream and boil it with rocks.

We will be covering each of the above topics in more detail in future posts so stay tuned.


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