Potable Water

Best Practices for Your Third Most Critical Survival Priority

by Todd Walker

Using the “B” word will automatically rain hell and brimstone on any online discussion. What’s the Best knife, sidearm, rifle, or water filter? Try it for kicks and giggles. Type that four-letter word in front of any piece of gear and watch the internet explode.

Best Practices for Your Third Most Critical Survival Priority - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Photo courtesy of Iris Canterbury

When it comes to survival priorities, the same spirited debate rages.

In the Pathfinder System, Dave Canterbury ranks water as the third wilderness survival priority. Self-Aid and Shelter take the top two spots respectively.

Here’s Dave’s full list…

  1. Self-aid
  2. Shelter
  3. Water
  4. Fire/heat
  5. Signaling
  6. Food
  7. Navigation

The subject of this article is the third priority – the substance which every system in the human body is dependent. A dehydrated body can not help you do all the stuff needed to keep you alive if you’re day hike turns into a week-long survival scenario.

Water is easy to find in the eastern woodlands. But it may not be fit for consumption.

That crystal clear stream you’re about to sip from may hold a rotting carcass 100 yards upstream. Also keep in mind that, yes, bears (and other critters) do crap in the woods along rivers and streams… which eventually washes into the pristine creek and into your cupped hands.

Introducing waterborne pathogens to your gut is a sure way to decrease your survivability in the wilderness. You need to assume that every water source in the backwoods contains the following invisible nasties (and more)…

  1. Giardia – A single-celled, microscopic parasite which causes a diarrheal illness called giardiasis. The parasite is passed through the feces of infected animals and humans. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, bloating, gas (not your normal campfire baked-bean induced gas), weakness, and stomach cramps. Symptoms show up within 1 to 2 weeks.
  2. Cryptosporidium – Crypto, as it is commonly known, is a parasite responsible for causing the most waterborne illnesses in the U.S. according to the CDC. Symptoms of watery diarrhea, dehydration, stomach pain and cramps, fever, and vomiting begin in 2 to 10 days of infection and may last up to 30 days.
  3. Escherichia coli (E. coli) – Some E. colia bacteria are beneficial to your intestinal tract. Then there’s the pathogenic, diarrhea kind transferred through water and food contaminated from human or animal feces. Remember that bear fact? Unfortunately, s**t happens. And ignorant humans have the bears beat!
  4. Salmonella – Most folks infected by this bacteria develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps within 12 to 72 hours. Not good for a 72 hour survival scenario. Oh, and it can spread to other body systems causing more long-term damage.

Bottom line… Don’t drink untreated water! Consider all backwoods water sources contaminated. Period. Even when brushing your teeth at camp, use disinfected water.

We’ve established the fact that the human body needs water to function properly. So what are the best (yeah, I used the B-word) practices to make water safe to drink?

Boiling Water

We took our youth group to a Catholic church in the early 80’s as a cross-cultural field trip. The priest met us at the door and invited us in. One of our really, really country boys asked the priest how holy water was made.

In all seriousness, the priest told us that they pour water in a pot, place it on a hot stove, and…

“boil the hell out of it.”

My Basic Class partner, Dave Williams, boiling 32 ounces of water

My Basic Class partner, Dave Williams, boiling 32 ounces of water in under 5 minutes

Boiling Times

There are lots of confusing, un-scientific info floating in the preparedness pool. So how long should you boil water to make it safe to drink?

a.) 10 minutes, b.) 5 minutes, c.) 1 minute, d.) depends on altitude

Answer: None of the above.

I’m not certain how long priests boil water before it becomes holy, but all you need to do is bring water to a boil to render the parasites, viruses, and bacteria harmless. In fact, 185º F for a few minutes will deliver the damage needed to kill the nasties. We boil in the backwoods because thermometers aren’t convenient to carry. Bubbles tell us when it’s done.

Research from the Wilderness Medical Society states that keeping water temps above 160º F for 30 minutes kills all pathogens through pasteurization. Bet you don’t carry a cooking thermometer in your pack. Even at high altitudes, once your water reaches the boiling point of 212º F,  you’re done. Boiling past zero minutes is a waste of fuel and life-giving water via evaporation.

In a perfect world, you whip out your metal container. Fill it with water and bring it to a boil. Take it off the heat immediately and allow the water to cool. Now you have potable water.

Water boiling challenge

Water boiling

What I carry is the Pathfinder Stainless Steel Cook set. The 32 ounce bottle nests inside the 25 oz. cup for easy storage in my haversack or backpack.

If you’re ever in a situation without a metal container, ask yourself this question…

What would MacGyver do?

Creative Containers

There may be resources in your pack which you’ve never considered could hold water for boiling. These items will help channel your inner MacGyver.

Dave Williams' duct tape water bottle at the Pathfinder School

Dave Williams’ duct tape water bottle at the Pathfinder School

  • Duct tape
  • Emergency space blanket
  • Trash bag
  • Backpack cover
  • Tarp
  • Rain suit or poncho
  • Dry bag
  • Hat

These pieces of kit will melt over a fire quicker than the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. But the important thing is that they hold water and you can make fire… and rocks litter the ground. Now you’re ready to boil water.

Stone Boil Method

Hot rocks from your campfire will boil water. Be sure to not use river rocks in the fire. The trapped moisture inside these stones are prone to explode when heated sending hot, sharp shrapnel flying. Use dry rocks.

Below are a few fellow YouTubers I respect demonstrating the stone boil method with improvised containers.

Hats off to IHatchetJack for this one…

Master Woodsman using a trash bag to boil water with stones…

Larry Roberts using a burn and scrape wooden container…

No-Boil Methods for Clean Water

You can’t boil water without a heat source. This fact places urgency on the need to carry at least 3 different methods to start a fire. We covered my favorite methods here.

However, even without fire, potable water is available in nature.

Water from Trees

Here are 4 trees found in the eastern woodlands that can be tapped in the same manner as our northern neighbors harvest sap for maple syrup. This hydration source is available when the sap is running in early spring.

tree-hugger-self-reliance-uses-american-sycamore

A young Sycamore (Right) and River Birch (Left) growing near the roadside

Sap from the trees contains sugars and clean water that can be consumed without filtering or boiling. Collect the sap by boring a hole or notch about a 1/2 inch into the tree. Insert a 4 inch spigot made from a hollow stick or river cane as a conduit for the sap. Use a container underneath the spigot/spile to catch the runoff.

Use your Possum Mentality and collect any plastic water/soda bottles you come across. They can be used to collect sap without ever tapping the tree with a spigot. Darin from East Woodland Survival has an interesting technique I really like…

Water from Plants

Another great seasonal (spring, summer, and fall) source of clean water is found in wild grape vines. Sever the end of a large diameter vine near the ground over a container. It’ll start slowly dripping water into the container. Speed up the process by reaching as high as possible up the vine and cut a notch in the vine. The notch breaks the vacuum in the vine to increase the water output.

Don’t forget that your mouth is a container. Lay under the vine and drink directly from the plant. Be sure you can accurately identify grape vine from poison ivy and oak!

Rain Water

Rainy weather is a two-edged sword. It makes fire craft difficult but can provide needed emergency hydration.

With access to a tarp or rain gear, configure a “V” shape to collect rain and funnel it to a container.

John McCann of Survival Resources shows you how to do this in a homesteading situation easy enough. The same can be done in a survival scenario with sticks and ingenuity. His contraption collects and amazing amount of rain water!

A more primitive rain catchment technique is to harvest tree bark in half-pipe sections set up like a bicycle rim configuration with a collection device positioned at the axle. Tulip poplar, willow, and other non-resinous tree bark can be used.

Water Filters

Modern water filters are convenient and effective for removing parasites and bacteria but not viruses or chemical contaminants. I personally carried the Sawyer Mini on our recent backpacking trip on Eagle Rock Loop. It’s lightweight, easy to use, and effectively removes 99.9% of pathogens and is rated to clean 100,000 gallons of water.

sawyer squeeze water filter

DRG’s new squeeze! This is the larger Sawyer filter pictured.

Filters can be constructed from natural materials in the backcountry. My friend, Joshua Shuttlesworth, has a tutorial on building a Tripod Water Filter you should check out.

Remember to always assume wilderness water sources are contaminated. Drink without disinfecting water in the woods and you could pay a hefty price. Don’t trust what you read here or watch on YouTube videos. Get out and develop the skills needed to quench your thirst!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Potable Water, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills, Water | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

6 Life and Survival Lessons Learned from Backpacking

by Todd Walker

6 Life and Survival Lessons Learned from Backpacking - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I flipped to “Fat Guys in the Woods” on The Weather Channel last night as DRG was reading her book. She glanced over the pages and asked…

“Is that Fat and Afraid?”

I belly laughed!

After climbing that first mountain, the name fit me.

6 Life and Survival Lessons Learned from Backpacking - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Are we there yet?

My brother’s boys and I drove eleven hours to tackle Eagle Rock Loop in the Ouchita (pronounced wosh-i-taw) National Forest in Arkansas. Our map called the mountainous section of the loop “vigorous”. Understatement of the year! Brutal was more like it for this old man.

This wasn’t a self-imposed survival adventure. We backpacked and camped with modern gear. Here’s what I took away from our journey.

Lesson #1: Fitness Matters

The only way to train for mountains with no switchbacks is to climb mountains with no switchbacks. Baseline fitness is helpful but may not be enough.

6 Life and Survival Lessons Learned from Backpacking - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Jake got the last laugh with his light pack

We parked at 4:30 P.M, strapped on packs and hit our first mountain 50 yards from the truck. Jake, the youngest of our trio, was point man. And perhaps the smartest. His pack weighed 15 pounds! He’d seen what heavy could do to soldiers patrolling mountains in Afghanistan. And his buddies were fresh out of boot camp and physical specimens.

IMG_9518

Car camp!?

Had I reduced my pack weight by half, I still would have struggled to climb the mountains. I won’t lie. I secretly contemplated turning back halfway up and car camping. My young, strapping hiking partners were patient with their old uncle with frequent stops for me to catch my breath and cool the burn in my gluts and thighs.

6 Life and Survival Lessons Learned from Backpacking - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Kyle instigated this trip

If you subscribe to the popular bug-out-on-foot theory, have you tested your load out and physical abilities on the terrain you plan to walk?

Lesson #2: Water Matters

Bring more than one method to obtain potable water.

IMG_2578

Water Filters: Kyle carried a Katadyn filter which he and Jake used. I used my Sawyer Mini, which weighs 2 ounces, to fill my 2 liter bladder in my backpack. A small 16 ounce Sawyer mylar bag was my backup when I sucked the hydration bladder dry. I consumed about 4 litters per day due to the strenuous activity and summer heat.

IMG_2574

Around morning and evening campfires, I boiled water in my 64 ounce bush pot for cooking, hot cocoa, and coffee. Boiling was impractical on the move. Water filters are the way to go on rest stops.

Lesson #3: Feet Matter

When your only means of conveyance is your feet, take good care of them.

We crossed 3 mountains on our first full day of hiking. I noticed a hot spot on one of my toes going down the last mountain. Upon inspection, I had forgotten to trim my nails which turned out to be the source of the toe pain. My Swiss Army Knife scissors quickly solved the issue.

6 Life and Survival Lessons Learned from Backpacking - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

River crossings were unavoidable. At low water levels, we rock hopped. A few crossings ended in wet feet. I carried three pair of wool blend socks. One for wearing, one for drying, and one as a spare.

Cooling off with my Five Fingers

Cooling off in my Five Fingers

Also consider packing a lightweight pair of camp shoes or sandals. I wore my Five Fingers around camp and for protection while exploring the rivers. Even though I run barefoot at home, I couldn’t afford a wound to my only means of wilderness transportation.

Take time to keep your feet dry, clean, and protected. Always break in new boots or shoes well ahead of your journey.

Lesson #4: Sleep Matters

“One of the hallmarks of the veteran woodsman is the way he contrives to make himself comfortable in camp”. ~ Warren H. Miller

Follow the 4 W’s of campsite selection when choosing your spot to bed down… remember to look up. We had to fell a 5 inch dead standing oak on our last campsite. It may not have caused us problems but you never know how the wind may change. It provided ample firewood for us and to the next pilgrims who find our site.

6 Life and Survival Lessons Learned from Backpacking - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

All three of us prefer hammocks to tents. Hammocks not only offer comfortable bedding they also serve as a camp recliner by sitting perpendicularly like a swing.

You need good sleep hygiene to restore the body. Six to seven hours is about all I get at home. For some pleasant reason, I typically sleep a good 8 to 9 hours in the woods… barring abrupt disruptions from wild visitors.

I don’t worry too much about large animals. It’s the little critters that bug me… mosquitos and no-see-ums being the main culprit.

Use bug netting or insect repellent.

6 Life and Survival Lessons Learned from Backpacking - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

All Natural BugShot

I’ve just discovered a natural bug repellent called All Natural BugShot that kept the biting insects and ticks away. If you’re not crazy about applying DEET based repellents to your skin (or melting your plastic gear), check BugShot out. I shared my thoughts in a short video review on our trip. I recommend it!

Lesson #5: Bears and Bacon Matter

I was flip-flopping about whether to bring the dry cured bacon into bear country.

On this special trip with my brother’s sons, I went with bacon. One and a half pounds in fact. That amount gave us 2 thick strips each morning to get our day started. We also cooked a dozen dehydrated eggs in bacon grease over two days. We were smoothing it over the campfire kitchen!

IMG_2585

We never sighted actual bears but did walk over scat on the trails. Carry bear spray.

Here are a few bear precautions to take. I found this research site, North American Bear Center, interesting and informative in addressing commonly held myths about bear-human encounters.

A bear’s sense of smell is over 2,000 times better than humans. Knowing this, take precautions and practice good camp hygiene. Place all food and cooking utensils in a bear bag and hang it at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet from the nearest tree trunk.

My bear bag system contains the following:

  •  30 liter dry bag, 50 feet of paracord
  • One carabiner
  • Finger size stick off the ground

All food and cookware go inside the sealed bag and is hung 100 yards down wind from camp. I use the PCT (Pacific Coast Trail) method to hang the bag. I’ll show you this trick in a later blog.

I know this about my body but I over packed food anyway. When hot from physical exertion, I don’t eat much. We stopped for lunch breaks but never ate a meal just a few snacks of dried fruit or trail mix. And very little of that. Our largest meals were in the evening after cooling off.

Lesson #6: Family Matters

Though I’ve known Kyle and Jake since their birth, I never had the chance to connect with them as I did on this wilderness adventure. We connected by being disconnected.

IMG_2641

Kyle made slate name tags for us

We lost all communication with the outside world miles before we reached the trailhead. No phone calls, texts, social media stuff, or blog reports. And not one among us frowned.

IMG_2647

Welcome to Camp Walker!

We embraced being off-line and soaked in all nature could offer. We ate snake pan-fried in coconut oil, dined on homemade bacon, told campfire stories, laid still watching moon beams pour through leaves overhead, dried our wet bodies on rocky sandbars warmed by campfires, found the richness of life in our adventure, and confronted our fears and fatigue to discover how little it takes to make us happy.

6 Life and Survival Lessons Learned from Backpacking - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Going primal, gig in mouth, in search of bullfrogs

That, my friends, was the most valuable lesson of all!

Get out there, and, as always…

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network. P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Potable Water, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Water | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Water: The 2nd Essential Pillar of Preparedness for SmartPreppers

by Todd Walker

Part 2 ~ Essential Pillars of Preparedness Series

Given enough time without water, you die! It’s that simple.

In our second post in the series, The Essential Pillars of Preparedness for SmartPreppers, let’s take a look at how not to die from dehydration. I thought I’d be able to cover food as well, but it’ll take up a whole post next time.

Getting started on your preparedness journey can be a daunting task. Having potable water is essential for short-term emergencies and long-term survival. At any time you find yourself in a scenario without water for an extended time (three days or so), you’re in a survival situation.

Before you go buy cases of bottled water and 55 gallon drums, think about the storage space needed for water. Also keep in mind that water weighs over 8 pounds per gallon. DRG and I don’t personally store tons of potable water. But we do have several methods to produce drinking water in an emergency. We also have access to a nearby natural water source.

Water Facts

Our bodies, depending on age, gender, and body type, are made of between 77% to 45% water. We can’t survive without water. When building this Pillar, consider your activity level, availability, nearby natural water sources, filtration equipment, storage capabilities, and climate.

Whatever recommendations you’ve read on how much H2O you need, double it. Natural disasters equal lots of manual labor, which increases your bodies need to re-hydrate. If you’ve ever pulled up soaked carpet and pad after a flood, you know the amount of labor and physical exertion involved.

The recommended one gallon per day per person does not include water for hygiene, cooking, pets, and livestock.

I’m a Container Freak

How important are containers? Whole civilizations have been built around these puppies. For thousands of years, lumps of clay on a potter’s wheel turned into bottles, jars, and jugs to store liquids.

If you’re not a potter, here are some simple options for water storage containers.

  • Used drink containers: Two liter soda containers can be cleaned and re-purposed. Since I don’t drink soda, I needed another source. I’ve got an unlimited supply of one gallon jugs from my school. The concession stand sells a sugary, frozen slushy type drink to help wash down the SAD (Standard American Diet) meals from the lunch line. The artificial flavoring comes in 4 – 1 gallon jugs per case. They are HDPE (High Density PolyEthylene) and coded with a #2 inside the recycle symbol on the bottom of the container. I collect these when they’re empty, place them into their handy shipping box, and take them home. I clean them with hot soapy water, a diluted bleach/water solution, and refill with water. They stack very well in the boxes. The boxes also block light to prevent algae growth. [Note: Warnings about reusing plastic milk and sugary drink bottles for water storage abound on the internet. Some say the sugars can’t be completely removed from the plastic which enables bacteria growth. Do your own due diligence before using these containers.]

  • Emergency water: Don’t forget that your hot water heater contains 40 gallons (depending on the size) of potable water. In an emergency, simply shut off the power source (gas shut off or electrical breaker labeled in your breaker box, right?). Even if the power is out at your house, it’s wise to take this step if you’re forced to drain your water heater. If the power is restored to your empty water heater, you’ll be replacing the heating elements on a dry water tank. Next, attach a garden hose to the bottom valve. Open the pressure relief valve on the top or side of the water heater and fill those used drink containers you’ve been hoarding.
    • Toilet tank water. A typical tank (NOT the bowl) will hold over 3 gallons of water. To keep from stirring up the sediment in the tank, scoop the water,  or disconnect the fill-line from the bottom of the tank and drain into a container. Yes, it’s potable – unless you put bowl cleaning chemical cakes in the tank. [If in doubt, don’t drink from the toilet tank.] Reconnect the fill line so you can still use the toilet to flush waste. With a bucket/container, refill the tank with non-potable water. Now you’ve still got the convenience of flushing with the handle. The ladies will appreciate the extra effort.
    • Bath Tub. Plug your tub and fill it with water if you have an early warning of possible disasters bearing down on you. This water can be used, as mentioned above, to flush toilet, personal hygiene, and even drinking. If you have to resort to drinking from the tub, you’ll want to disinfect the water by boiling and chemical treatment. Don’t want to drink from the container (tub) after all those dirty showers? Buy one of these…
    • Water BOB. For $30.00 you can add 100 gallons of potable water to you bath tub. I have no experience with water bobs. Do you?
    • Drain your pipes. In a two-story home, open the tap on the upper floor and collect the water from the pipes at the lowest faucet in your home. On single story homes, find the lowest water spigot (usually an outside garden hose bib) and follow the same advice in the previous line.
    • Kiddy pools and other outside containers can be tapped in an absolute emergency. Be sure to filter, boil and disinfect water from these sources before drinking.
    • Water from natural sources such as lakes, ponds, rivers, and creeks should be filtered, boiled, and treated before drinking. Drinking unsafe water can turn a short-term emergency into a dehydrating, diarrhea disaster – or worse.

On The Go Water

If you had to get out of dodge on foot, having lightweight water filters would come in handy. Remember, water weighs over 8 pounds per gallon. It would be crazy to try to physically carry enough water in your kit for three days on your back.

I’ve got a MSR filter for my 72 hour kit. DRG packs the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter that weighs only 3 ounces. We both have 2 liter water bladders attached to our bags allowing us to drink while walking or hiking.

We both keep a 32 ounce metal water bottle with a metal cup in our kits. Both bottle and cup can be used to boil water if our other filters options fail or are not available. We also carry chemical treatment in our bags – iodine and purification tablets. Don’t forget to add a cotton bandana for pre-filtering debris from open water sources.

Stationary Filter

For the home, it’s wise to have a gravity fed filter like our Royal Berkey. Can’t afford the Royal Berkey? Buy the filters and make your own. Also, Prepper Helper has an article comparing popular water filtration systems if you’re in the market for one.

Yes, it takes electricity over at your city water works to treat and pump H2O to your tap. Even if you have well water, power is need to pressurize your water lines. A manual hand pump, solar-powered pump, or gravity fed cistern adds another layer of redundancy to your water preps.

If all else fails, you can always fall back on cans of dehydrated water ;)

dehydrated water

Breathing, perspiring, and urinating are a few normal bodily functions that cause fluid loss. You’re losing hydration by just taking the time to read this article. So, drink up SmartPreppers!

Keep doing the stuff,

Todd

P.S.

How are you building this essential Pillar of Preparedness? The comment section is open, as always.

Essential Pillars of Preparedness Series

Categories: Gear, Potable Water, Preparedness, Water | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Individual Preparedness Plan: Weak Preps Become Strong

You’ll never be the best, but you can be good enough.

Lay aside your dreams of grandeur for a moment. At one point I wanted to write a book. Dreams of being a bestselling author use to bounce around in my head. Then I woke up. I don’t have what it takes. Maybe I do. I haven’t tried it yet. I’ve been writing this blog for less than a year. What makes me think that I could write stuff that millions of folks would line up to buy? I’d settle for hundreds.

Yep, I’ve come to a place of reality. I no longer have to write my masterpiece. What a relief. My mind bending activity focuses on being good enough now. The same goes for preparedness. My survival is not dependent on my being the best survivalist on the planet.

Is mediocre good enough?

In my Preparedness Wheel analogy, spokes (individually weak) intersect at the hub to strengthen the wheel. I mentioned this concept the other day when I told you about Dirt Road Girl’s radiation treatments. Weak beams of radiation are directed towards the tumor in several directions. One beam is so weak it causes little to no damage (according to our doctor) as it passes through healthy tissue. But when all the beams intersect at the target, the dosage is multiplied many times. It’s like a horrible car crash of radiation beams delivering devastation and destruction. The tumor screams in agony and dies.

Even our weakest attempts to prep for emergencies can add power to our IPP (Individual Preparedness Plan). Instead of causing a pile of twisted metal and mangled bodies, minor preps help us navigate safely through deadly crossroads. Over time, and with proper aim, the little stuff starts to build strength. Preparedness and self-reliance happens at the intersection of ‘weak’ preps.

Your individual needs will determine the nature and scope of the spokes in your Preparedness Wheel. We will all have a different looking wheel. Before you build a fancy wheel with lots of bling, make sure you have the basic spokes. Once your wheel is rolling, customize it to your individual needs.

Here is the first spoke to help you on your journey to preparedness and self-reliance.

Water is life

Our bodies, depending on age, gender, and body type, are made of between 77% to 45% water. We need it to function. We can’t survive without it. When building this spoke, consider your activity level, availability, storage capabilities, and climate.

I’m a Container Freak. How important are they? Whole civilizations have been built around containers. For thousands of years lumps of clay on a potter’s wheel has been turned into bottles, jars, and jugs to store liquids. You don’t have a potter’s wheel? No problem. Simply save used food grade containers. I’ve got empty plastic coffee containers (with handles) hanging from a string under my shop. DRG wonders how I’ll ever use all these. They could be forced into service as water containers. I mostly use them now for odd hardware storage in my shop. But you never know, right. Below are some options for getting your drink on.

  • Used drink containers: Two liter soda containers can be cleaned and re-purposed. I’ve got an unlimited supply of one gallon jugs from my school. The concession stand sells a sugary, frozen slushy type drink to unsuspecting student consumers to wash down the SAD (Standard American Diet) meals from the lunch line. The artificial flavoring comes in 4 – 1 gallon jugs per case. They are HDPE (High Density PolyEthylene) and coded with a #2 inside the recycle symbol on the bottom of the container. I collect these when they’re empty, place them into their handy shipping box, and take them home. I clean them with hot soapy water and refill with tap water. They stack very well in the boxes. The boxes also block light to prevent algae growth in my liquid storage. I’ve tasted water from these jugs with hardly a hint of flavoring. I’m ahead of the curve when it comes to buying expensive “flavored” water WTSHTF.

4 gallon jugs per case

  • Emergency water:Don’t forget that your hot water heater contains 40 gallons (depending on the size) of potable water. In an emergency, simply shut off the power source (gas shut off or electrical). Electrical should be labeled in the breaker box. If not, identify the correct breaker and label with a permanent marker. Even if the power is out at your house, it’s wise to take this step. If the power is restored to your empty water heater, you’ll be replacing the heating elements. Next, attach a garden hose to the bottom valve. Open the pressure relief valve on top of the water heater and fill those used drink containers you’ve been hoarding. Don’t forget these sources below either…
    • Toilet tank water. A typical tank (NOT the bowl) will hold will hold over 3 gallons of water. Even the government regulated 1.6 gallon/flush toilets hold that much. To keep from stirring up the sediment in the tank by scooping the water out when needed, disconnect the fill-line from the bottom of the tank. Unless the connector nut is really tight, you should be able to use your super-human strength to loosen it. If not, use a pair of pliers. Sit a container under the outlet and collect the water. Yes, it’s potable – unless you put bowl cleaning chemical cakes in the tank. If in doubt. Don’t drink from the toilet tank. Reconnect the fill line so you can still use the toilet to flush waste with a bucket of water you scooped from the tub or other source. With a bucket/container, refill the tank with water. Now you’ve still got the convenience of flushing with the handle. The ladies will appreciate the extra effort.
    • Bath Tub. Plug your tub and fill it with water if you have an early warning of possible disasters bearing down on you. This water can be used, as mentioned above, to flush toilet, personal hygiene, and even drinking. If you have to resort to drinking from the tub, you’ll want to disinfect the water by boiling and chemical treatment. You do have an alternative method of cooking, right? Don’t want to drink from the container (tub) after all those dirty showers? Try this…
    • Water BOB. For $30.00 you can add 100 gallons of potable water to you bath tub. I haven’t tried one of these yet. I’d love to hear feedback for any who has.
    • Drain your pipes. In a two story home, open the tap on the upper floor and collect the water in the pipes from the lowest faucet in your home. On single story homes, find the lowest water spigot (usually an outside garden hose bib) and follow the same advice in the previous line.
    • Mosquito pools. Bird baths, kiddy pools, and other outside containers can be tapped in an absolute emergency. Be sure to filter, boil and disinfect water from these sources before drinking.
  • Make your own potable water. I’ve got a MSR (Mountain Survival Research) brand filter for my hiking/BOB. For the home, it’s wise to have a gravity fed filter in case electricity is lost. Yes, it takes electricity over at the city water works to pump H2O to your tap. Even if you have well water, power is need to pressurize your water lines – unless you have a manual hand pump. Then forget what I just said. Can’t afford the Royal Berkey? Buy the filters and make your own. Or try this one. Also, Prepper Helper has an article comparing common water filtration systems. You can read it here.
  • Lightweight Collapsible Container. Creek Stewart, author of Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag, has a great article on water storage containers on his site Willow Haven Outdoors.
  • Pictured below is my mobile filtration system. I keep these in my BOB (Bug Out Bag). They are lightweight, durable, and functional.

L to R: MSR water filter, G.I. issue canteen with nesting cup, MSR bladder

  • Yard Sale Containers. I picked up these two blue containers at a yard sale for $2.00. The previous owner said she used them one time on a hunting trip and threw them in the corner of her garage. They hold 7 gallons each. Lots of emergency storage solutions can be found at yard/estate sales.

Cleaned with hot soapy water then refilled with tap water

Preparedness and self-reliance, like any other skill, takes time. It’s more of a marathon than a sprint. For those waking up to our fragile world and the need to prepare for uncertain times, information overload is a real threat to your success. Your fears are only heightened by the gap between your new-found knowledge and your needed action steps. The last thing you need is fear mongering and ‘experts’ berating you for not being prepared for TEOTWAWKI. [Sarcasm on] No worries my friend, they’ll sell you an all-you’ll-ever-need-kit to get you through the zombie apocalypse [Sarcasm off]. I’m a huge fan of free-markets. Just beware of who you get your advice from. What we all needed is a healthy dose of sensible, practical, Regular Guy common sense on our journey together. Here are few of my Regular Guy & Gal resources. Check out my Blogroll & Resources tab for more.

Prepper Website

Living Freedom

Ready Nutrition

Backdoor Survival

The Survivalist Blog

Prepography

Alt-Market

The Survival Mom

Perhaps you found this helpful. Next week we’ll continue the Individual Preparedness Plan series by adding another spoke to our Preparedness Wheel: Food Storage – How hard can it be?

If you found this info helpful, I sure would appreciate y’all sharing it with family, friends, and social networks.

Doing the stuff,

Todd

 

Categories: Frugal Preps, IPP: Individual Preparedness Plan, Potable Water, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Water | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

What’s In Your Canteen?

Today’s post was originally published by Claire Wolfe on her Freedom Living blog. It is reprinted here with permission. Please pay her a visit and check out the rest of her preparedness series and musing on liberty and preparedness.

__________________________________

Preparedness priorities, part VI

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Storing water

Again, I’m going to deal with the simple stuff here. I won’t cover things like rainwater catchment systems, homemade water towers, or underground cisterns. Once again, I’m just sticking with things anybody could do simply.

The most basic thing

Everybody should have a few days supply of water in every vehicle and every bug-out bag. The “official” recommendation is a three-day supply. A week is better, but water is heavy and three days supply will get you through most mobile emergencies.

As with everything else, we need to evaluate our own circumstances and needs. Do you live in a wet or dry climate? A cool one or a hot one? Is your typical vehicle trip across town, across country, or into the back country where you could get stuck and die? Might you have to live in your vehicle without outside assistance for a few days or a week after a natural disaster? Is there a chance you’ll have to exert yourself and therefore require more water than average?

The very, very easiest, no-brainer thing to do is buy Coast Guard approved pre-sealed emergency water packets.

They’re handy. They store and carry well. They can be tucked into little spots here and there without taking up one big mass of space. They can last years without attention. They’re designed to prevent nasties from getting inside. They’re even cheap as survival preps go, only about $8 for a three-day supply for one person.

But they’re expensive as water goes.

In other words, they’re a good solution if you might have to carry your water in a bug-out kit or tuck it under the seats of your vehicle. For home storage there are better ways to go. Ditto if your vehicle has plenty of good storage space.

Other portable or semi-portable water storage

If you expect to have to carry your water on your back, another option is hydration packs (the ultimate of which is the GeigerRig).

Hydration packs range in price from $15 hardware-store crap (which I guarantee you’ll regret once you’re sucking desperately on their slow & faulty valves) to … well, GeigerRigs and CamelBaks.

There are also old-fashioned canteens and more newfangled totes. I’m always on the lookout for these at garage sales (more about safety aspects of buying used containers next time). They’re not ideal solutions, but I currently have things like these with my bug-out bag and in my vehicles:

They cost me $1 apiece and the time it took to clean and fill them.

Read the rest here

Categories: DIY Preparedness, Frugal Preps, Potable Water, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Water | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4 Light-weight Collapsible Survival Water Storage Containers

[SS Note: Creek Stewart, author of Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag, has a great article on water storage containers on his site. Check out his site and book.]

Source: Willow Haven Outdoors

March 5, 2012 By

There  is a reason why I post so much about WATER.

WATER IS CRITICAL TO OUR SURVIVAL!

Some experts say that the next greatest world resource shortage will be WATER.  In many parts of the world, access to clean drinking water is already almost nonexistent.  The ability to source, carry, store and disinfect water should be at the top of your survival preps and skill sets.

There are all kinds of different skills and products that are relevant to a discussion about SURVIVAL H2O.  Today, I’d like to discuss 4 SMALL Collapsible Containers with BIG Potential.

First, why COLLAPSIBLE?

In many aspects of survival, portability is key.  Containers that are collapsible make sense to the survivalist for several reasons:

  • They weigh less
  • They take us less space
  • Can be carried easily in a BOB or BOV
Collapsible containers, however, are typically not as durable as their rigid counterparts.  You will have to decide when portability outweighs durability.
Below are 4 Collapsible Water Containers that I own – each have a slightly different place and purpose in my survival tool chest of products.  I detail why I own them, what I plan on or currently use them for, and where you can get them should you decide to add them to your survival preps.

The Water Bob

As you can see in the photo above, the Water Bob is a collapsible water liner that fits in your bath tub.  In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, the Water Bob can be deployed in a matter of minutes and holds a staggering 100 gallons of water.
The Water Bob also comes with a siphon for drawing out smaller portions of water.  Sure, you can just fill your bath tub up with no liner if you are desperate, but the food grade liner protects the water from A) Your nasty bath tub and B) Dust, debris, insects and air-born particles.
If you are limited on space for water storage in your house or apartment and you have a bath tub, the Water Bob might be a good solution for you.  If you see this fitting into your survival mix, you can order one at http://www.waterbob.com/  for $24.95.

The 5-Gallon Collapsible Container

I bought this container from http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/MLT4945-1.html for $9.97.  Versions of this style container can be found in almost any camping section at any big box retailer.  I’ve seem them in hunting stores like Gander Mountain and even Wal-mart.  These are a great light-weight, portable solution for toting water from a water source back to camp or a Bug Out Location.  They can also be frozen.  This one is fitted with an easy ON/OFF spigot which is a nice feature.

The Jolly Tank

The Jolly Tank is my new favorite survival water storage container.  My friend (and occasional Guest Author on this site and owner of www.realitysurvival.com)  JJ Johnson recently introduced me to the Jolly Tank.  I’ve been in the survival biz for 15 years and have never seen this particular product.  It holds 2 gallons of water or fuel (6 hour limit on fuel) and folds down to about the size of your wallet.  And, it only weighs a few ounces.  I’ve added one of these to my BOB, my Bronco and also to my in-home safe room.  Trust me, I need one in my Bronco – that thing SUCKS THE GAS.
JJ has done an excellent review on this item at http://www.realitysurvival.com/jolly-tank/.  He also sells them for $10.  Other than his site, I don’t know of anywhere else to get them.

The Platypus Water Bottle

I’ve used a Collapsible Platypus Bottle ( http://cascadedesigns.com/platypus ) for as long as I can remember.  I use it as 1 of my 3 Bug Out Bag water containers.  I have the 2 liter version and it literally rolls up into nothing when empty.  It’s the best use of space I can think of in a BOB.  I’ve used the same one for over 10 years so I can attest to its durability.  I love that I can reduce the bulk in my pack as I consume the water in this bottle.  It is just one of those items that makes sense.

The Big Drawback

The obvious drawback of collapsible containers in their thin walled design.  Though most of them are surprisingly durable, they are definitely more susceptible to being cut or punctured.  This needs to be taken into consideration when using and packing these types of containers.  In a survival scenario where weight is critical, the pros of these containers certainly OUTWEIGH the cons.
Are you using a collapsible container that the rest of us should know about?  If so, tell us about it in the comments below.
Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,
Creek

Similar Posts:

About Willow Haven Outdoor & Creek Stewart
Creek Stewart is the Owner and Lead Instructor at Willow Haven Outdoor – a leading Survival and Preparedness Training Facility located on 21-acres in Central Indiana.  For more information on Survival Courses and Clinics offered at WHO, click HERE.  Creek is also author of the new book Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit.  His book is currently available for preorder on AMAZON.COM for only $11.20 – LIMITED TIME ONLY.  If you enjoy Creek’s Blog Posts, you will also enjoy his new book.  You can contact Creek directly at creek@willowhavenoutdoor.com.
Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, equipment, Potable Water, Preparedness, Self-reliance, SHTF, Water | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 4 Most Likely Ways You Can Die If the SHTF

Author: Tess Pennington
Source: Ready Nutrition
June 2011

The subject of survival in a long term disaster goes beyond having stockpiles of beans, bullets and band-aids. Those that do survive during a long term emergency will no doubt be tried and tested with a great many things. One of those trying scenarios is dealing with death.

Zombie attacks seem to be a prevalent theme for preppers to prepare for. In fact, the CDC has even posted a preparedness article on how to ward off zombie attacks. While I believe these zombies will likely take the form of substance abusers, mental patients, chronically ill or diseased, and desperate individuals whose basic needs have not been met, they will die out in the first few months of an onset of a  major disaster, and there presence will rarely be an issue in a long term situation.

In reality, a majority of those that will die during a long-term disaster will be from illnesses brought on by acute respiratory infections due to cramped living conditions, poor water conditions (or lack of), or bacterial infections from wounds. If we survive a major disaster, America would become a third world country and the aftermath of such a scenario will be similar to those living in Africa, Ethiopia and India.

Illness Due to Poor Water Conditions

Typically, any diseases that are brought on by lack of sanitation and hygiene are controllable and preventable. In a disaster where water sources are compromised, people within a 50 mile radius could be adversely impacted by illness and disease if just one person incorrectly handles water or incorrectly disposes of waste.  Contaminated water, poor sanitation and/or lack of hygeine leads to diseases such as Hepatitis A, viral gastroenteritis, cholera, Shigellosis, typhoid, Diphtheria and polio. If these diseases affect enough people, an epidemic will ensue.

Dehydration and diarrhea are also water-related matters to contend with. Those without adequate water conditions and/or are suffering from disease brought on by poor water conditions could quickly dehydrate. These types of illnesses typically affect at-risk populations such as children, the sick and the elderly. Young children in particular are at high risk for diarrhea and other food- and waterborne illnesses because of limited pre-existing immunity and behavioral factors such as frequent hand-to-mouth contact. The greatest risk to an infant with diarrhea and vomiting is dehydration. In addition, fever or increased ambient temperature increases fluid losses and speeds dehydration. Having knowledge beforehand on how to properly clean drinking water and food, and the symptomatology and treatment of these types of diseases can prevent further outbreaks from occurring.

Recommended preparedness items: water filtration systems, water purification tablets, chlorine granules, bleach, electrolyte or rehydration powders, anti-diarrea medicines.

Malnutrition

Malnutrition from either improper water conditions or from lack of nutrients is also a large killer amongst those in impoverished communities.  Medical experts say there is a symbiotic relationship between malnutrition and diarreah.  Malnutrition increases the severity of diarrhea while diarrhea can cause malnutrition. Either way, prevention for both of these health issues is key.

Those that are malnourished are more suseptible to illness and disease. Individuals who are malnourished will also be vitamin deficient and their health is likely to regress further. Those who survive from malnutrition are permanently affected by this disease and may suffer from recurring sickness, faltering growth, poor brain development, increased tooth decay, reduced strength and work capacity, and increased chance of chronic diseases in adulthood. Adult women with this condition will give birth to underweight babies.

Recommended preparedness items: dietary supplements, vitamin powders, seeds for sprouting or  seeds for fresh vegetables and fruits, survival bars, knowledge of alternative means to attain vitamins

Acute Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory infections (URI) will also be a leading cause of death in a long term disaster. Upper respiratory infections include: colds, flu, sore throat, coughs and bronchitis can usually be cured with additional liquids, rest and nourishment. Allowing the illness to exacerbate will lead to secondary infections such as bacterial pneumonia. The germs from pneumonia are easily spread from an infected person to others by coughing or sneezing or through close contact. A major concern about respiratory infections is that there are many drug resistant strands of viruses, bacterias and diseases (including tuberculosis), that regular medicine will not cure.  In a long term disaster situation, many could perish.

To properly prepare for this type of medical situation, learn about the more prevalent viruses and bacterias in your country and how to prevent them in order to provide a healthy living environment in a long term situation.

Not only are URI’s a concern but other air-borne diseases such as tuberculosis will likely fester during a long term scenario. In regular non-SHTF times, treatment for tuberculosis requires 6-12 months of medication.  In a long term emergency, chances of surviving tuberculosis are slim. The best way to prevent tuberculosis is adequate nutrition, vitamin D and living in a properly ventilated shelter.

Survival groups that have multiple people living under one roof will only increase the likelihood of passing air-borne infections and diseases to one another. In addition, those in an at-risk group (elderly, immuno-deficient, infants) are more likely to catch illnesses.  If a survival group is sharing a home, an infirmary or sick room should be prepared for those who have fallen ill.  Isolating the person who is ill will limit exposure to the other members of the group. Adequate nutrition, water, rest, good sanitary practices and ventilation of the home is essential in curbing this.

Recommended preparedness items: decongestants, expectorants, upper respiratory medicines, antibiotics (for secondary and bacterial infections), knowledge on medicinal herbs, prepare a sick room at your survival homestead

Infections From Wounds

Open injuries have the potential for serious bacterial wound infections, including gas gangrene and tetanus, and these in turn may lead to long term disabilities, chronic wound or bone infection, and death.  Anitibiotics will be few and far between and will be more precious than gold.  Without proper medicines, antiseptic and knowledge on proper medical procedures, many will die of bacterial infections.  Learning medical skills, gaining knowledge on natural medicines and alternative medical antiseptic (i.e., Dakin’s Solution) before a disaster occurs could help people survive from wound infections. Also, ensuring the area that you treat medical emergencies is clean and as sterile as possible may also prevent bacterial infections.

Recommended preparedness items:  stock up on maxi pads for wound absorption, gauze, celox, antibiotics, suture needles and other basic first aid supplies.

Additionally, consider developing the following skills: basic first aid class, sign up for EMT classes in your community, an off-grid medical care class such as those offered by onPoint Tactical. Also, consider investing in books such as When There is No Doctor and When There is No Dentist.

Also look into making your own antiseptics utilizing alcohol distillation, such as the custom made units from LNL Protekt.

These illnesses (provided above) have impacted countries all over the world. These illness and conditions, coupled with unsanitary living conditions such as substandard sanitation, inadequate food and water supplies and poor hygiene, make disaster-affected people especially vulnerable to disease. These illnesses will affect us no matter what part of the world we live in, what socio-economic status we currently hold, and no matter how prepared we think we are.

Understanding what can happen and being prepared when it does is absolutely essential. The last thing we want to do when a serious condition arises is to panic. Preparing your supplies, developing your skills and educating the rest of your family and preparedness group on how to prevent, identify and counteract these serious conditions will provide a significant boost to your ability to survive if the worst happens.

Recommended Readings:

Patriot Nurse: 5 Diseases that Will Explode WTSHTF

Prevention and Management of Wound Infections

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Emergencies

Author: Tess Pennington
Web Site: http://www.ReadyNutrition.com/

Date: June 29th, 2011

Related Categories: Health and Safety, Potable Water, Preparedness, Vitamins and Nutrients

 

Categories: First Aid, Healthcare, Medical, Potable Water, Preparedness, Self-reliance, SHTF, TEOTWAWKI | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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