Water In Survival Situations

Water In Survival Situations

Andrew’s Note:  Today’s survival lesson is an extract from Chapter VII, Water of FM 21-76-1, the U.S. Army manual on Survival, Evasion & Recovery June 1999, Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.  This extract provides information on requirements, procurement, preparation and storage of water in survival situations.   

Water Requirements

Drink extra water. Minimum 2 quarts per day to maintain fluid level. Exertion, heat, injury, or an illness increases water loss.

Note: Pale [clear] yellow urine indicates adequate hydration. 

Water Procurement

  • DO NOT drink—
    • Urine. [Don’t worry Bear Grylls…this doesn’t apply to you]
    • Fish juices.
    • Blood.
    • Sea water.
    • Alcohol.
    • Melted water from new sea ice.

    Water Procurement, Figure VII-1

    Water Procurement, Figure VII-1

  • Water sources:Surface water (streams, lakes, and springs).
    • Precipitation (rain, snow, dew, sleet) (FigureVII-1).
    • Subsurface (wells and cisterns).

      Water Indicators, Figure VII-2

      Water Indicators, Figure VII-2

    • Ground water (when no surface water is available) (Figure VII-2).
      • Abundance of lush green vegetation.
      • Drainages and low-lying areas.
      • V intersecting game trails often point to water.
      • Presence of swarming insects indicates water is near.
      • Bird flight in the early morning or late afternoon might indicate the direction to water.
      • Snow or ice.
        • DO NOT eat ice or snow.
          • Lowers body temperature.
          • Induces dehydration.
          • Causes minor cold injury to lips and mouth.
          • Melt with fire.
            • Stir frequently to prevent damaging container.
            • Speed the process by adding hot rocks or water.
          • Water Generator, Figure VII-3
          • Melt with body heat.
            • Use waterproof container.
            • Place between layers of clothing.
            • DO NOT place next to the skin.
          • Use a water generator (Figure VII-3).

          Water Generator, Figure VII-3

          Water Generator, Figure VII-3

      • Sea Ice, Table VII-1Open seas.
        • Water available in survival kits.
        • Precipitation.
          • Drink as much as possible.
          • Catch rain in spray shields and life raft covers.
          • Collect dew off raft.
          • Old sea ice or icebergs (Table VII-1).
      • Tropical areas.
        • All open sources previously mentioned.
        • Vegetation.
          • Plants with hollow sections can collect moisture.
          • Leaning Tree. Cloth absorbs rain running down tree and drips into container (Figure VII-4).
          • Banana plants.
          • Water trees (avoid milky sap).
            • Tap before dark. Let sap stop running and harden during the daytime.
            • Produce most water at night.
            • For evasion [high risk bug-out or get home] situations, bore into the roots and collect water.
            • Vines (Figure VII-5A).
              • Cut bark (DO NOT use milky sap).
              • If juice is clear and water like, cut as large a piece of vine as possible (cut the top first).
              • Pour into hand to check smell, color, and taste to determine if drinkable.
              • DO NOT touch vine to lips.
              • When water flow stops, cut off 6 inches of opposite end, water will flow again.

                Water Vines and Green Bamboo, Figure VII-5

                Water Vines and Green Bamboo, Figure VII-5

              • Old bamboo.
                • Shake and listen for water.

                  Beach Well, Figure VII-6

                  Beach Well, Figure VII-6

                • Bore hole at bottom of section to obtain water.
                • Cut out entire section to carry with you.
                • Solar Still, Figure VII-7

                  Solar Still, Figure VII-7

               

              • Filter and purify.
            • Green bamboo (Figure VII-5B).

          Beach well. Along the coast, obtain water by digging a beach well (Figure VII-6).

          Vegetation Bag, Figure VII-8

          Vegetation Bag, Figure VII-8

      • Dry areas.Solar still (Figure VII-7).
        • Vegetation bag (Figure VII-8).
        • Transpiration bag (Figure VII-9).
          • Water bag must be clear.

            Transpiration Bag, Figure VII-9

            Transpiration Bag, Figure VII-9

         

        • Water will taste like the plant smells.
        • Seepage basin (Figure VII-10).

    Leaning Tree, Figure VII-4

    Leaning Tree, Figure VII-4

CAUTION:  DO NOT use poisonous/toxic plants in vegetation/transpiration bags.

Seepage Basin, Figure VII-10

Seepage Basin, Figure VII-10

CAUTION: Liquid contained in green coconuts (ripe coconuts may cause diarrhea).

Water Preparation and Storage

  • Filtration. Filter through porous material (sand/charcoal).
  • Purification.
    • Water from live plants requires no further treatment.
    • Purify all other water.
      • Boil at least 1 minute.
      • Pour from one container to another to improve taste to aerate.
      • Water purification tablets. Follow instructions on package.
      • Potable Water.
        • If water cannot be purified, obtain water from a clear, cold, clean, and fast running source (if possible).
        • Put in clear container and expose to the sun’s ultraviolet rays to kill bacteria.
        • Storage. To prevent contamination, use a clean, covered or sealed container.
          • Trash bag.
          • Prophylactic. [rather delicate, use only as a last resort and only the unlubricated type]
          • Section of bamboo.
          • Flotation gear.
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