Accidentally finding yourself stranded or lost in the wild is both a scary thought and a highly possible scenario.
No matter how experienced you are, everyone is subjected to certain circumstances that are far beyond their control. Whether you're a casual picnicker or a veteran outdoorsman, you might now always be prepared for what nature has in store.
In a survival situation, water is one of your most vital needs. It is with this in mind that we suggest some tips for learning how to find/gather/purify water in the wild.
Stay Hydrated in the Wild
To maintain good health, the human body needs a minimum of two quarts of water per day. In the wild, chances are that you'll be exerting yourself a bit more than usual.
It's also a possibility that the climate might be more extreme than you are accustomed too. These factors cause your body to use up the water you consume even faster than usual.
Here are some tips for staying hydrated in the wild. Read more here.
Finding Water In The Wild
Finding water in the wild is essential for survival, as clean drinking water is crucial for staying hydrated and maintaining your health. Here are some methods for finding water in the wild:
Follow Animal Tracks: Animals in the wild often need water, so following their tracks may lead you to a water source. Look for signs of animal activity like tracks, droppings, or worn paths.
Listen for Sounds: Moving water often makes a distinct sound. If you hear a babbling brook or the sound of water flowing, follow the noise to find a water source.
Look for Vegetation: Green and lush vegetation, especially in arid areas, can indicate the presence of water underground. Dig a small hole near the roots of such plants to see if water seeps in.
Check Low-lying Areas: Water naturally flows downhill, so check valleys, depressions, or low-lying areas for signs of water accumulation. You might find puddles or moist soil.
Search for Insects: Insects like bees and ants need water too. Watch their movements, as they may lead you to a water source.
Dig for Seepage: In dry riverbeds or areas near potential water sources, dig a hole a few feet deep. If the hole starts filling with water, you can collect it. Make sure to filter and purify it before drinking.
Collect Dew: Early in the morning, you can collect dew from grass, leaves, or other surfaces using a cloth or your clothing. Wring it out into a container.
Use Solar Still: If you have plastic sheeting or a large plastic bag, you can create a solar still. Dig a hole, place a container in the center, cover it with the plastic, and anchor the edges with rocks. Moisture will condense on the plastic and drip into the container.
Wild Edible Plants: Some plants, like cacti, have water stored in them. Learn about the edible plants in your area, but be cautious as some can be toxic.
Rock Cavities and Crevices: Water can collect in natural rock formations. Look for crevices or hollows in rocks where water may be stored.
Streams and Rivers: If you come across a flowing stream or river, it's generally a safe source of water. However, it's still a good idea to purify it if possible to eliminate any potential contaminants.
Rainwater: If it's raining, you can collect rainwater in containers or use improvised rain catchment systems.
Water from Snow and Ice: In snowy regions, you can melt snow or ice for drinking water. Make sure to purify it since snow and ice can still contain impurities.
Dehydration is a condition that occurs when your body loses more fluids than it takes in. It can have various consequences on your health and well-being. Here are some dehydration facts to be aware of:
Water is Vital: About 60% of the human body is composed of water, highlighting its essential role in various bodily functions.
Causes of Dehydration: Dehydration can result from inadequate fluid intake, excessive fluid loss through activities like sweating and urination, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or certain medical conditions.
Symptoms of Dehydration: Recognizing the signs of dehydration is crucial. Common symptoms include increased thirst, dry mouth and throat, dark yellow urine, fatigue, dizziness, headache, dry skin, and decreased urine output.
Severity Levels: Dehydration can range from mild to severe. Mild dehydration is often manageable by increasing fluid intake, while severe dehydration can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
Risk Factors: Certain factors increase the risk of dehydration, such as hot and humid weather, intense physical activity, illness with fever and vomiting, and age (infants, young children, and the elderly are more vulnerable).
Effects on Health: Dehydration can have various negative effects on health, including impaired cognitive function, reduced physical performance, heat-related illnesses (like heat exhaustion and heatstroke), kidney problems, urinary tract infections, and in severe cases, it can lead to coma and death
Gathering water in the wild is crucial for survival, but it's important to collect and treat it safely to avoid consuming contaminants. Here are some methods for gathering water in the wild:
Natural Water Sources: Whenever possible, look for natural water sources like streams, rivers, lakes, or ponds. Moving water is generally safer than stagnant water. Collect water from the cleanest and fastest-moving part of the source.
Rainwater: If it's raining, you can collect rainwater using various containers or natural catchment systems. Set up containers to catch the rain or use large leaves as impromptu funnels to direct water into a container.
Dew: Early in the morning, you can collect dew from grass, leaves, or other surfaces. Use a cloth or clothing to soak up the dew and then wring it out into a container.
Transpiration Bag: Tie a plastic bag tightly around a leafy branch of a non-poisonous plant. The sun will cause the plant to release moisture into the bag, which you can then collect.
Solar Still: If you have plastic sheeting or a large plastic bag, you can create a solar still. Dig a hole in the ground, place a container in the center, and drape the plastic over the hole, anchoring the edges with rocks. As the sun heats the ground, moisture will condense on the plastic and drip into the container.
Rock Cavities and Crevices: Check for natural rock formations that might hold water. Some rocks have hollows or crevices where water can collect.
Dig for Seepage: In dry riverbeds or near potential water sources, dig a hole a few feet deep. If the hole starts filling with water, you can collect it. Be sure to filter and purify the water before drinking.
Plant Stems: Some plant stems, like bamboo, can store water. Cut a section of the stem and drink the liquid inside. Make sure the plant is not toxic, and be cautious when using this method.
Melting Snow and Ice: In snowy areas, you can melt snow or ice for drinking water. Be sure to purify it afterward since snow and ice can still contain impurities.
Want to learn more about water and survival? Check out Survival Water Purification – Survival Water Purification!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 19, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.