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.
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.
- DO NOT drink—
- Urine. [Don’t worry Bear Grylls…this doesn’t apply to you]
- Fish juices.
- Sea water.
- Melted water from new sea ice.
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
- 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
- Open seas.
- Water available in survival kits.
- 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.
- 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
- Water will taste like the plant smells.
- Seepage basin (Figure VII-10).
Leaning Tree, Figure VII-4
CAUTION: DO NOT use poisonous/toxic plants in vegetation/transpiration bags.
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).
- 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.