You may have heard of the rule of three. Without air, you’ve got three minutes. Without water, you’ve got three days. Without food, you’ve got three weeks. This little saying makes it easy to remember. Even though you might survive three days without water, it would undoubtedly be a torturous ordeal.
Open Streams, Creaks, and Rivers
When you are out in the wild, and you come across a beautiful moving stream, it can be tempting to cup your hands to gather water and drink. The water looks so crisp, clean, and feels icy cold to the touch. Don’t let the clarity of the water fool you. There can be a variety of ugly bacteria living in there that will cause you to become sick.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us the United States has some of the safest drinking water in the world. However, beware of drinking from open streams. Some microscopic parasites are in the water due to animal feces and even human feces. Some of these nasty parasites can live in the water for months. The symptoms can be mild indigestion to full blown diarrhea.
In the old days before filtering water or purifying tablet were available people would boil water before they consumed it. Boiling water does not change the taste, but it does take time, and you can only boil so much water in a single pot. You also must have some sort of fuel to produce the fire needed to boil the water, and you must wait for the water to cool. An inconvenience for sure. However, this method will kill organisms that cause disease, viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
How to Boil Your Water
1. Bring to a rolling boil for up to 1 minute. If you are above 6,500 feet, let the water boil for up to three minutes.
2. Let the water sit until it cools off.
3. If you are not ready to consume all the water right away, pour into a clean container that is sanitary and cover tightly.
You can run your drinking water through a filtering system. Some water filters will remove parasites that cause disease. Try to pick a filter with tiny filter holes for a better chance of eliminating parasites. Many portable water filters will not remove viruses or bacteria. Try to use filters with iodine as this will kill any viruses that may be in the water.
Purifying Water with Chemical Tablets
Chemical tablets are quick and easy and do not cost much. They are small and easy to pack or carry in your pocket. Some of the tablets will change the taste of the water so you may want to try different kinds to see which ones are suited to your liking. There is also a shelf life associated with the tablets, so you will have to make sure to check the expiration date before you get out to your camping destination. There are a couple of types to choose from, such as Iodine, chlorine.
If you want to get out of the house and take that camping or hiking trip, don’t forget to consider your water supply. Carrying bottled water is not very convenient due to the weight. Consider what supplies you will need to either boil the water, filter the water, or drop iodine or chlorine tablets for purifying the water to make it safe to drink