“I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it.” – W. C. Fields He didn’t have a LifeStraw. No, but water is an essential part of survival in so many ways. Survival isn’t just about avoiding getting your arms cut off, or drowning from a storm or radiated from a nuke. Survival is really a balance between avoiding the catastrophe and maintaining your own health. You’ll need strength and endurance. And food and water are what will give you the energy you need. So in this piece, we’re going to talk about five things. We’ll cover
- natural purification methods
- salt water purification and heating water to purify it.
- foraging for food and avoiding poisonous plants.
- freeze dried foods and proteins, cooking gear and ovens and bug out meals.
- water tablets/UV purification and water where there is no water.
Once you’ve read this, you’ll have a good handle on the things to deal with in any disaster when it comes to food and water.
PURIFYING WATER NATURALLY
Next to life threatening wound care, drinkable water is the first priority. The reason why is that you cannot predict how long the disaster or its effects will unfold. The store shelves might be wiped clean of bottled water. And if for some reason the water supply is contaminated, how do you get the water you need?
What if you don’t have water purification tablets on hand? How do you naturally purify water? One way is to find a tree with large leaves. Find a branch that’s in the sun. Next, tie a plastic bag around the end of a branch. Over time, the humidity from the leaves will attach to the inside of the bag and form water droplets. It’s not a drinking fountain, but its drinkable water.
Another method is the Sodis method. You just take a soda bottle, and fill it with filtered water. Filtered meaning water that has no rocks, debris or leaves, branches, etc. Put the top on the bottle, and lay it on a black metal surface in the sun. This will generate enough heat to kill all of the bacteria in the bottle over 6-8 hours. But what do you do with salt water? We live near the ocean and there’s plenty of water here. Just not drinkable water.
So an interesting option is a salt water distiller. These are not as complicated as you would think. There’s no electronics either. Its a twist on the first method I shared with you. Check it out. water tablets and UV purification water where there is no water The next thing to think about is food. Foraging for food.
WATER AND FORAGING FOR FOOD
One of the survival rule of 3’s is that you can’t go without food for more than 3 weeks. For me that will be a problem because I’m running to Wendy’s every 3 hours. But here’s the thing. If there is no way to get food from stores then you may have to find it in the woods. I’m talking foraging for food. So to get the process rolling, I recently added to my BugOutBag a deck of cards called 52 Wild Edibles. Each card is dedicated to one wild food item. And each card has some specifics about preparation, warnings, and identification tips.
Also check out Steve Brills work on wild plant foraging. He has a list of 14 plants that are a combination of edible and poisonous plants. In this list of plants, he covers cattail, dandelion, elderberries, mulberries, juneberries, nettles, poison ivy and others.
And while you are foraging, consider firemaking. Part of the strategy in foraging is boiling leaves of some of the plants. So your ability to build a fire is critical with food foraging. You can still forage without water though. But that’s just one part, the next thing is..
FREEZE DRIED FOODS AND PROTEINS
For mobile/light travel survival, you want the most impact from your food at the lightest weight. That’s where freeze dried foods and proteins come in. This combination gives you the biggest bang for the weight and space taken up. The nice thing is that freeze dried foods only need some water and they are ready to go. They are very light and contain the same nutrients that non freeze dried foods have. You can get vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy products (freeze dried cottage cheese!) and even ice cream! Having ice cream that isn’t cold is a little odd though. I’ve had it and it tastes very good. For energy, you want to avoid sugary and energy type drinks or foods. They may bring you up, but there will be a price to pay hours later.
Best bet is to get your energy in a way that is as sugar controlled as possible. That’s because you’ll want consistent and reliable energy for your body. The answer? Protein. And the best place to get this is through protein bars. They are packed with energy and are lightweight. And if you combine protein with freeze dried foods, then you are in that much better shape. That’s because you have more room to pack more food which will help you last longer. But that’s just one part, the next thing is..
BUG OUT COOKING GEAR
Part of your food and water plan is to have something to cook or boil water in. So what you’ll need is some kind of fire making capability or stove if possible. To make fires, I use the UST BlastMatch. And for a stove, I’ve got the MSR WhisperLite International. It’s for backpackers where where MSR-brand fuel isn’t available.
So the WhisperLite can burn kerosene and unleaded petrol (gasoline). Also, it burns “white gas” that MSR and Coleman sell. Its an old design, but continues to prove its self to many around the world as a reliable stove. The downside is that you have to carry the fuel bottle with you. But in a rainstorm where you might not have dry fuel and tinder, that might not be a bad thing.
Now let’s talk about your cooking set. Check out the GSI Outdoors Dualist Cook set or the HaluLite. This set is non stick. That means it’s healthier and comes with pots, cups and bowls. Also it comes with a water sealed drawstring bag that you can use as a wash basin. Now if you want to take things a step further, try this. Combine the stove and cookset. The product you’ll want to check out is the Optimus Crux Lite for your bug out meals. But that’s just one part, the next thing is..
WATER WHERE THERE IS NO WATER
Our fifth tip for survival/bug out food and water has to do with finding water when you don’t see water. If you didn’t already know it, check this out. The US Geological Survey estimates that there is more freshwater located underground than in all of the earth’s freshwater lakes and rivers. But you can find water above the surface of the earth too. Here are a couple of places you can find it. First, from the plants and the dew they produce. Here’s how you get it. Tie an absorbent cloth around your ankles and go walking through high grass. Squeeze the water out of the cloth and you’ll have a small amount of liquid to drink.
Another idea is the transportation well. Its simply a bag you tie onto the branch of a tree with broad leaves. After being in the sun for a bit, you’ll see dew begin to form on the inside of the bag. Second source of water is from the ground. What you’ll be looking for are depressed areas.
Also, look for dried up riverbeds, bottom of hills, areas with lush vegetation. Dig some test holes about 4 feet apart. Make them 5-7 feet deep. As you keep digging, you’ll see water seeping into some of the holes as you are getting closer to a water source.
Now you’ve got the framework of a water plan for your bug out kit. You now know a little bit about foraging, freeze dried foods, bug out cooking gear and finding water where there is no water.
So this week, as a test, what you’re going to do is try fasting for the weekend. That’s right. Here we talked about all this water and food, and I’m asking you to fast? Yep. That’s because you might be going without food if you eat your stores in the first 72 hours. Try fasting for 1-2 days just as a test. This will begin to train you in the reality of what might be coming down the road when or if disaster hits.