Introduction: Disaster Preparedness (Water Procurement/Purification)
Water.... If you believe in the concept that we all originated from the primordial soup of some prehistoric earth then it's probably not a stretch to imagine our bodies are comprised primarily of water. Water isn't only necessary when it comes to wetting your whistle. It's also a requirement for basic metabolic processes like digestion and the regulation of your body temperature through perspiration/evaporative cooling.
People can survive weeks without food but, without water or some semblance thereof your days are numbered, literally.
The items in following instructable are what I've chosen to use to gather, transport and purify the wet stuff. This set up works for me (and my new wife!). Hopefully you can take from it an idea or three to either put together or augment whatever you've chosen to carry. Take what you need, ditch the rest.
Step 1: Wetting Your Whistle.
FEMA suggests that you maintain at least a one gallon per person per day stockpile of water in your home at all times. Broken down to the the oz. that'd be 384oz for one person for 72hrs...
One of the guiding principles of assembling any type of disaster kit, Go bag, what have you, should be; "Ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain."
That 384oz doubled for two and converted to pain equates to about 50lbs of pure unadulterated suck!
The human body actually needs approx. 2 liters or about half a gallon of water a day to live. So where does the other half gallon come in?
Hygiene; washing your hands, brushing your teeth, bathing, irrigating wounds, washing your cloths, your dishes... As Americans we use "fresh" water for just about everything. In fact the USGS (United States Geological Survey) estimates that the average Americans use 80-100 gallons of water per day! Makes you kinda sick don't it?
There are many different kinds or categories of water ranging the gambit of clarity and viability for human consumption. The following gear pertains to potable water otherwise know as drinking water; finding it, making it and drinking it. Let's dig in.
Step 2: Choose Your Weapon.
Containers are a must when it comes to the assembly of any type of disaster preparedness kit. There are plethora of options available to the modern consumer as it pertains to water carriers and no end of debate as to which you should carry. Which option you chose will ultimately boil down to budget and what it is you want it to be for you besides that which it already is. Let me explain...
Water bladders: Water bladders are great in that, once empty, they take up very little space. A lot of modern military or camp packs have a place for them to be contained therein meaning that they're not dangling from the outside of your pack, throwing off your balance. Usually these types of water carriers have straws or flexible tubing that can allow you to drink directly from the pack without having to miss a beat. They also have a larger capacity then you likely to find in any type of ridged format meaning you're able to carry more water. More water, more better.
My difficulty with theses types of set up are principally logistical. If you're out in the field and need to use a chemical biased purification method you've got to fill the bladder with "dirty water," guesstimate the volume, add the chemicals and then try "threading" the bladder to ensure there's no cross contamination after the purification process. when all's said and done you have to be able to clean out the bladder for long term storage... Lastly if it gets ruptured to an extent not even duct tape will resolve you're pretty well screwed. All that being said I've chosen a 5qt U.S. Military water bladder/flotation device as my base camp water storage solution
Nalgene bottles; Firstly let me say that typically I hate using brand names in posts. The concept of advertising for a company through "word of mouth" really peeves me off. The truth of the matter however, is that Nalgene bottles are the shiznit! I've chosen the Nalgene for a few reasons.
One: They're manufactured in the good ol' US of A.
Two: They're practically bomb proof
Three: They've got approximate fl oz gradations along the sides making them useful as a measuring cup
Four: They're translucent making them ideal for judging the turbidity of your water source
Five: They're wide mouthed making them hella easy to clean
Six: They're ubiquitous. You can find them anywhere and everywhere and a great many water purification systems are set up to direct connect, awesome!
The down side? Unless you get the Stainless steel version you can't really boil water in them and those nifty little gradations on the side, well, they're surly not going to last forever and then there goes your measuring cup. Beyond that the pros out weight the cons, at least for me they do, hence it's inclusion into the kit.
Stainless steel/aluminum water bottles: Metal offers a lot of benefits with very little draw back. Both stainless steel and aluminum bottles are durable and in all likelihood will last forever. With metal bottles you also gain the capability of using them as a vessel with which to boil water should it prove necessary either to cook or purify water. All this lead me into initially having one as part of my kit.
So why'd I switch? (I had originally been using a 40oz Klean Kanteen) Well, the water filter I choose for this kit had a direct connect to the Nalgene bottle type and I liked the translucency of the plastic bottle. It doubling as a measuring cup didn't hurt either. Granted I've now lost a vessel capable of boiling water but with the 1L bottle I can now more confidently use chemical treatment methods as most are formulated for one liter. I was also able to stack another Sierra cup on top of the bottle doubling my eating/drinking vessels.
Other: There are literally dozens of ways to carry water and unless you want to be stuck on step 2 all night I suggest we move on, wouldn't you agree? I thought to go over the most common and readily available water carriers. If there's something you think I couldn't live without please let me know. Now, on to the next one
Step 3: "Water, Water Everywhere But Not a Drop to Drink"
Though the above excerpt (a quote from the rhyme of the ancient mariner) deals with the salinity of sea water. The same can be said after a hurricane, tsunami or a walk through the streets after a wet teeshirt contest in San Juan. Just because water may be readily available does not make it safe to drink. There are chemicals, pathogens, bacterium, micro organisms, you name it! Heck, most tap water is probably known in the state of California to cause cancer!
*Just being factious, your tap water is probably fine.*
What I'm really getting at is that you need some method by which to ensure that the water you drink isn't libel to cause you to lose more then you're taking in and to that end you need something...
The most basic tried and true method of water purification; boiling. If at all possible my first method of purification would be boiling. For this I've included two Sierra cups (not including the 5 cup pot from my cooking kit, instructable to come, stay tuned) I figure with both cups going I should be able to boil sufficient quantities of water to keep me and the misses going in an emergency. I like the Sierra cups for boiling because they're so thin walled that they boil lightning quick. Of course if you were trying to actually cook with them that vary same attribute might prove to be the bane of your existence...Gotta have the right tools for the job.
Also though I don't know if this would work I'm pretty sure I could rig up the two Sierra cups one on top of the other slightly askew to create a make-shift still to either distill potentially chemically contaminated water or desalinate sea water. Looks like I've got some experimenting to do!
My second water filtration/purification method is the first need water filter deluxe. Is it the best filter? Probably not, but it was within my price range (purchased second hand) and when tested, does the job 100%. I like having the hand pump because of the ease and expediency of water gathering when using a pump based purification system. This unit is rated for approximately 150-180 gallons and what I especially like is that once spent the filter stops working. Yes there are newer filters that can be back washed but who's to say that the filter doesn't get damaged in the maintenance. Plus there were tons of positive reviews on REI and Amazon. Can't argue with that.
Odds & Ends: By way or pre-filters I've got a small smattering of coffee filters nesting in the sierra cup on the bottom of my Nalgene. They're just the right size to cover the mouth of the Nalgene and help keep everything nice and snug when nested. Rounding out the random I've included some flexible heat resistant tubing which can be used as a straw. an adapter for my water filter, turniquit... use your imagination...
Step 4: Know Your Limits...
The aforementioned gear is my primary means of water procurement and purification. Are there others. Heck yes, tons! But you need to know your limits. If you've already got the capacity to carry six liters of water. Why seven? You've got to draw the line somewhere. I've looked over kits where there's three canteens, a water bladder a collapsible five gallon jug, all but the kitchen sink and enough chemical treatment options to make a mad scientist green with envy.
Water is important but like the Buddha preaches; "follow the middle way." You've got to tow the line between the extremes of what is and what could be. Carry enough that you've got your bases covered. But not so much that in toting around all your gear your sweating out more then your putting in. Conservation of perspiration is the preservation of propagation and to that end;
Common signs of dehydration;
Lethargy (Extreme fatigue or drowsiness)
Extreme thirst (well, duh!)
Reduced frequency with regard to urination.
Discoloration of urine *increasing in shades of darkness.
Reduced skin elasticity.
Know the signs a act upon the to help you keep on keeping on. Cheers!
Check out my full kit here: