Humans and animals must have water to survive. Securing a safe source of water takes time. Consider how to best invest your resources well ahead of a crisis point. When standard clean water sources are unavailable, here are some ways you can help secure safe drinking water.
Choose the cleanest water you can find. Look for a water supply that does not have any obvious debris floating in it. Check to be sure dead animals, sewage, or other bits of organic matter are not easily seen in your water source. Locate a source that hasn't been contaminated by chemical spills.
Some people believe that exposure to various water sources will give you immunity to disease-carrying microbes, making it possible for you to safely drink unfiltered water while traveling. The reality is that some microbes could wreak havoc with your health and cause severe physical damage. There is some truth that limited exposure can build immunity. It is also true that no one wants to become ill unnecessarily. Avoid chemically contaminated water sources as these hazards cannot always be filtered from the water. Don't take risks if you don't have to do so.
Filter the water you collect. There are many ways that water can be contaminated. Not all contaminants are visible. Select a method of filtration to further insure the safety of your drinking water.
With water filtration, there are a range of options from bad to better and best. No single option is practical in every application. Everything from the temperature, sunlight, terrain, individual skill levels and materials on hand will play a role in the safety of the water you consume. Preparation and information is the key to keeping your water supply a source of health rather than a hazard.
Disinfect the filtered water to kill any remaining disease carrying organisms. Once you’ve selected and filtered your water, you will want to heat it to the point of pasteurization. This is about 150 degrees Fahrenheit, several degrees below the boiling point.
Using pasteurization helps to avoid loss of water vapor by boiling. Pasteurization can be done using sunlight by leaving a sealed transparent container of water in direct sunshine from two to four hours. The time depends on the heat of the sun and the surface on which the container is resting.
Without a thermometer, it may be easier to heat the water to boiling to insure it’s disinfected. Use a lid or covered container to avoid loss due to steam. Distilling water by boiling and drinking the condensed steam is the safest way to consume clean water from questionable sources. Proper water distillation insures that the contaminants are left in the original vessel while only pure water moves to the catch vessel.
Use safe storage methods. Good drinking water can easily become contaminated by exposing it to a tainted container. If plastic containers have been used for toxic chemicals, it is possible that the plastic could release some of those chemicals back into your carefully cleaned water. Wash glass containers carefully before re-use. Take the time to cover containers to protect the contents from contamination.