Emergency Water Supply
A Life Saver in a Backwoods Emergency
Having an emergency water supply with you at all times is vitally important in the backwoods. When hiking, you should never deplete your water supply before refilling. Always have more than you need to reach your next intended refilling destination.
A Possible Life-Threatening Scenario
Imagine that you are hiking and have nearly completed your second (and last) water bottle. You are familiar with the area and know that your next watering hole is just a couple of miles up the trail. Not an emergency, right? WRONG!
Oops, the terrain becomes unstable and you take a misstep---down you go; you’ve broken your leg. You are hiking alone and have left information with friends/family as to when you plan to be back at the trailhead—that’s three days from now.
You have little to no water to last you a minimum of three days--longer if rescuers have difficulty locating you. If you are at a high elevation, decreased water intake puts you at a greater risk for altitude sickness. You now have an emergency!
Be Prepared with Extra Water
Always having an emergency water supply is as easy as having two water bottles—when you empty one, you refill at your next water source, topping off your second bottle too. Of course, how many water bottles you carry will depend on their size and how easily available water is where you are hiking.
In addition to water, you will need a way to purify it. This could be a pump, water purification tablets or both. It is a good idea to keep a small bottle of water purification tablets in your pocket. Should you get separated from your backpack, you still have the ability to purify water for drinking.
Many hikers carry portable water filters so that any water source that they encounter can be made safe to drink or use for hygiene purposes.
The Effects of Drinking Unsafe Water
The body needs a steady supply of safe water in order to operate properly. Deprive it of water, especially at high altitudes, and your potential for survival begins to deteriorate rapidly.
The body can usually survive for only about two days without severe internal damage or death. Intake of water from an unsafe source can be as bad as no intake of water at all. Parasites and other pathogens in water can cause severe stomach cramps and diarrhea. Diarrhea very rapidly depletes the body’s internal reserve of water.
A Definite Life Saver
Having an emergency water supply with you at all times dramatically increases your chance of surviving a backwoods emergency.
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