When lost in the wilderness, whatever type of wilderness it may be, finding water always tops the “to do” list. While we can go a month or so without food, we’re dead much sooner than that without water! So if you find yourself separated from your camping buddies or are otherwise lost in the big bad wild, how should you look for water? Let’s find out:
Areas to Check Out
You’ll increase your chances of finding water in valleys and other low areas where water naturally drains, as well as rainwater-collecting rock crevices, and muddy or damp ground. Also look for patches of lush vegetation, which indicate water is close by, and places where animal tracks come together. A group of different animal tracks in the same area usually means a water source is near. Insects often stay close to water, so watch for them as well. Birds will circle around a water source, meaning you should look to the sky every so often.
Keen Listening Skills Are A Must
Listen for the sounds of rushing water, such as rivers and streams. Flowing water is challenging for algae to cling to, and is much more preferable to lakes, where movement isn’t as strong. If you have purification tablets on you, use them before drinking from a river or a stream. You can also make a fire and boil the water to kill any lingering bacteria. It’s recommended that you purify any water you take from a river, stream or lake.
Rain Water Is Always a Good Bet
Rain water is usually a much safer alternative to river water, especially in rural areas. Use any containers you have to collect it, or ponchos or plastic bags. Broad leaves also work in a pinch, and you may also use them to collect heavy dew. If you have access to snow and ice, wait for it to melt before drinking it. Eating snow or ice reduces body temperature and causes dehydration. Not great.
Whatever your circumstances, never drink your urine! The same goes for blood, the aforementioned snow and ice, alcohol, fish juices, salt water and fresh sea ice. If you find a muddy area, make a hole that’s about one foot deep and wait for it to fill with water. You’ll have to strain it with a cloth or other applicable material.
You’ll want to walk downhill when looking for water, as the vital liquid always goes in that direction! It’s also important to remember that any time you’re drinking found water you haven’t purified in some way, you are putting yourself at risk.
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