Is it me or do there seem to be more disasters lately? I am sure that if some research was done on the subject, it would be the case that disasters, hurricanes and volcano eruptions are no more prevalent today than at any other time. But to set my mind at ease, I submit to you the following article.
Water is the lifeblood of all that we do. We run our bodies with it and we also run our machinery with it. The average person can live only about three days without water.
Since one should always be prepared for the unexpected, I want to give you some basic knowledge on finding water in a survival situation and how to treat the water that you do find.
The most important thing to remember about water is that it follows a certain pattern of movement that can be studied and predicted. You can use this knowledge in a survival situation to help yourself survive.
The different processes are as follows:
• Precipitation is condensed water vapor that falls to the Earth’s surface. Most precipitation occurs as rain, but also includes snow, hail, fog drip, graupel, and sleet. Approximately 505,000 km³ of water fall as precipitation each year, 398,000 km³ of it over the oceans.
• Canopy interception is the precipitation that is intercepted by plant foliage and eventually evaporates back to the atmosphere rather than falling to the ground.
• Snowmelt refers to the runoff produced by melting snow.
• Runoff includes the variety of ways by which water moves across the land. This includes both surface runoff and channel runoff. As it flows, the water may infiltrate into the ground, evaporate into the air, become stored in lakes or reservoirs, or be extracted for agricultural or other human uses.
• Infiltration is the flow of water from the ground surface into the ground. Once infiltrated, the water becomes soil moisture or groundwater.
• Subsurface Flow is the flow of water underground, in the vadose zone and aquifers. Subsurface water may return to the surface (eg. as a spring or by being pumped) or eventually seep into the oceans. Water returns to the land surface at lower elevation than where it infiltrated, under the force of gravity or gravity induced pressures. Groundwater tends to move slowly, and is replenished slowly, so it can remain in aquifers for thousands of years.
• Evaporation is the transformation of water from liquid to gas phases as it moves from the ground or bodies of water into the overlying atmosphere. The source of energy for evaporation is primarily solar radiation. Evaporation often implicitly includes transpiration from plants, though together they are specifically referred to as evapotranspiration. Total annual evapotranspiration amounts to approximately 505,000 km³ of water, 434,000 km³ of which evaporates from the oceans.
• Sublimation is the state change directly from solid water (snow or ice) to water vapor.
• Advection is the movement of water — in solid, liquid, or vapour states — through the atmosphere. Without advection, water that evaporated over the oceans could not precipitate over land.
• Condensation is the transformation of water vapour to liquid water droplets in the air, producing clouds and fog.
(This information was gathered from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Please use this link if you wish to read more on the subject http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_cycle)
Using the above information, you can begin to imagine the natural flow of water as it makes its natural cycle. Runoff is very important for the average disaster survivalist and through mental contemplation you can foresee and guestimate where major water currents will go(if you find yourself in a flood) and where water has gone in the past so that you might be able to find small creeks, and pools to satisfy your thirst.
Remember that water always seeks the lowest point. See the lay of the land before you and try to imagine where water has gone after a rain. Since water needs the sun (heat) for evaporation, look around you to see where pools of water might still exist even weeks after a rain. Sheltered embankments, wooded areas or rock formations can hold water for days or weeks.
You must assume that any water that you find in a survival situation will be highly contaminated with pollutants. We will cover water cleaning and preparation shortly.
Condensation can be a great friend to the survivalist looking for water. Condensation occurs when water vapor is cooled and transforms from vapor to water. That is the reason why you will see all those water droplets around a cold container; the hot water vapors come in contact with the cold container and as they cool, they are changed into liquid all around your cold container.
Using this principle, a survivalist can collect large quantities of fresh and clean water. To do this, you must wake up very early in the morning and using a small rag, begin to collect the dew that is created from the morning mist.
You have to use a small rag to wipe down the surface of things where the dew has collected. By wiping your CLEAN rag over all of the cold surfaces that you can find, you will be able to collect enough water to get you through the day.
You can either squeeze the wet rag over your mouth so that you can instantly drink the collected water or you can squeeze your rag into a container and save the water for later use. With patience and some hard work, you will be surprised at how much water you can collect.
DO NOT collect water in this way from any surfaces that are questionable. There could be pollutants on the surface of things so please be careful how and where you do this. Grass and any kind of plant life are your best bet for collecting water this way.
This method works best by the sea or in a wooded environment. A large city will usually have very little of this morning condensation because the concrete absorbs most of the moisture in the area.
The best defense in an emergency is to have a fresh supply of stored water. Try to have a minimum of three days worth of fresh water but if you can help it, make it a week. Most people need at least a quart of water a day so plan for a quart for each member of the household.
If you do not have enough water in your house, and the city has cut the water supply, there is still some water trapped in the pipes of your house. In order to get to this water, close off the main shut off valve in the house (usually located in the basement). This traps the water in your pipes so that it doesn’t drain out. It is important therefore to shut this valve off as soon as you suspect that the water from the city has stopped.
Once this valve has been turned off, go to the top floor of the house and open all of the taps; both cold and hot. Drain any water that you get into a good container. Work your way down all the way to basement. In the basement drain the water taps that feed the washer. Finally drain out the water that is in the water heater.
Be careful though, as I said before, do not assume that any water in a survival situation is clean. Even the water that you collected in your home can be contaminated so treat everything before you ingest.
The best way to treat questionable water is to filter it through a commercial water filter. Camping stores carry many different brands and models so it is a very easy thing to make an investment and purchase this life saving device.
Try to get a heavy duty model that will meet all of the requirements of your household. Don’t skimp on cost.
If you do not have a water filter then begin any water treatment by filtering any murky or dirty water through a handmade filter. The best thing to use in a pinch is a clean cloth.
After your water is as clean as you can get it by filtering with the cloth, you will want to boil it. Water must be boiled for at least twenty minutes to kill all possible bacteria, anything less is risking sickness.
You can also use distillation to clean water. In order to do this, you need to bring water to a boil and then collect the water vapor that you are creating. Finally this water vapor is cooled, once again returning water to liquid form.
One of the best ways to do this is to use a water kettle. The kettle will bring the water inside to a boil and will send all of the water vapor out of the spout. In order to condense the vapor back into liquid from, attach a long copper pipe to the end of the kettle spout.
You can get copper piping by taking apart some of the water piping in your basement. To attach the pipe to the end of the water kettle spout, use cloth and make sure that it is wrapped very tightly around the connection point so that you have a water tight seal.
I recommend using anywhere from one to three feet of copper tubing. It’s better to start with a longer tube and then shorten it if you have to. Make sure to bend the tube slightly so that the water vapor has time to cool off before it exits the tube.
Also make sure to place a container at the end of the copper tube so that you can collect all of the water that you have distilled.
Knowledge is power. I hope that this will help you to always find good water; Stay safe.
(resources; Wikipedia & “Tom Brown’s Field Guide to City and Suburban Survival” by Tom Brown, published 1984)