In an emergency situation, the purification of survival waters is essential. Depending on your activity level and ambient temperature, you may be able to survive up to three days without water. In a survival situation, however, this time frame is drastically reduced. When you realize you are thirsty, your body is already in the early stages of dehydration. Getting a drinking water supply should be your priority.
Backpacks and canteens for hydration: use of the appropriate container
Make sure you have a good container to carry the water. The best choice is a sturdy canteen, as many of these have integrated screens for filtering debris. If you are mobile and are looking for shelter, a specialized hydration backpack, a joey bag or a canteen that fits your MOLLE jacket will eliminate the need to carry bulky jugs. In a more permanent field you can use larger folding water containers. Do not use milk jugs to store water. It is almost impossible to get rid of all the milk residue, which will quickly break down and make you feel sick, making your dehydration worse.
Purification by boiling: killing microbes
The most common and effective method for purifying survival water is boiling. First of all, you will have to light a fire, which is an asset of great value in its own right. You can use a bait board or fire tabs with a magnesium fire starter kit, a storm-proof lighter or weather-resistant matches to facilitate ignition.
If you have a fire retardant container, you will be able to place it directly on the fire until the water reaches its boiling point. Advise that boiling times vary, but it is generally assumed that it is better to prolong; if you can boil the water for 20 minutes, do it. This method is ideal for killing bacteria, microorganisms and Giardia.
Chemically treated water: iodine tablets
In the absence of a fire, water can be treated with iodine or other chemicals to help eliminate bacteria. While iodine is more effective than chlorine to kill Giardia, iodine is not safe for people with an iodine allergy or for people with thyroid problems. Pregnant and lactating women should also avoid iodine. Iodine should not be used as the main method of water treatment, but the availability of easy-to-use tablets can be a real cure-all.
Water filtration systems: activated carbon and ceramic
Portable activated carbon water filters are another common method of water treatment. A variety of commercially available models offers an economical and reliable way to ensure water safety. Using a pump or drip system, water flows through a porous membrane small enough to remove toxins. When used in combination with iodine tablets as a secondary treatment, potability is significantly improved.