Sunday, March 28, 2010

Survival after a Disaster – Water

I am not an expert in water or in disaster preparedness or survival tactics ok. Sure, I drink a lot of water and enjoy survivor TV shows, but the info I provide here is based purely on my internet research, so, if you are an expert please do chip in and otherwise, take it as Not-the-Gospel ok?

In these posts on Survival After a Disaster, what I want is to start people thinking and searching – see what’s out there that can make us less reliant on services and may just be useful should we find ourselves in need. And by all means, please, if you have tips, thoughts, ideas, experience, do share them in the comments section!

Water is without doubt THE fundamental to survival; the story of the girl who kept herself alive for over 2 weeks by sipping water is worth keeping in your head, I think. So what can we do to increase our chances?

Bottled Water
I used to make it a habit to carry a small bottle of water around with me, and I’m thinking that might be a good habit to re-adopt. I guess having a supply of bottled water in your home is a good idea too - a case from the big lots shop perhaps? Just don't use up your emergency case in day to day consumption, ok - when you need it, it won't be there. (I'm a terrible one for doing this!)

Now that said, I got one of those chain emails the other day about the cost of bottled water and PCPs in plastics n all that, so, do like I do anyway, filter the tap water. Beyond that, put it in a proper re-usable bottle. Stainless steel or a plastic – BUT – for plastic, check your numbers, 4 seems a safe enough one and as the linked article notes, ease of cleaning all parts is important too.

So, beyond carrying a personal supply of water, we know that after any disaster, most likely the general water supply will be damaged or tainted – what then? Well, water purification tablets are good – can be carried on person, in your bag, in your glove compartment, and kept at home too. There's a good bit of info on chlorine vs iodine and more at the US EPA site. But there are a few other interesting things I found while looking around; they may not all be easy to get/do, but they get you thinking…

There’s the solar water purifier-
The Solar Water Purifier uses direct sunlight to convert any source of contaminated water – seawater, bore water, effluent, wine – into drinkable water. It uses no filters, no electronics, has no moving parts, rarely needs cleaning, and gives a greater yield than existing solar purifiers.
You'll find info at 

And this one would suit some of the islands now in the drought we’re having: DIY Desalination 

Drip Stone
Then there’s good old-fashioned limestone…how many places still have a dripstone? Tests have been done on water from one here in Barbados and they found nearly all harmful bacteria were removed. I think the residual bacteria was not considered enough to cause any health hazard. I guess if there is limestone around, you could, with some basic tools, carve out a basic one for yourself…here's a link to a pic

Then it occurs to me, the main component in water filters is charcoal right? I guess if there is some burnt wood lying around – coconut maybe – you could rig up some crushed in a cloth and pour water through it…not sure if that’d work, just seems it would – anyone know? 

I read a National Geographic article just yesterday about which water filters work the best and it turns out the charcoal filters seem to give the best all round cleaning – quite a number of parasites, germs and chlorine chemicals, lead, etc get removed with them.

Survivor Guy Style
And there’s the survival guide info, I can’t remember where I read this one – what if you’re stranded on a beach or coastal area with no water and no cooking pot?  Well, gather some rocks, make yourself a fire and get the rocks hot in the fire. Meanwhile you dig a hole in the sand/earth, fill it with your seawater. Rig up a piece of cloth over the mini-pond you just made (assuming the cloth should be as clean as you can get it :) and then place your hot rocks in the water – the steam will rise, soak into your cloth which you then squeeze out into your mouth…

So, there you are some food for thought. I'm sure there's loads more info and ideas around, so do share; for us in the Caribbean, well we're coming up to our Hurricane Season again and the earth keeps shaking all over the world these days, so brush up on your survival skills and sign up to RSS or email updates (top right) for further posts on Survival Tips

What do you say?