How important is water?
For such a simple chemical composition (2 parts hydrogen and 1 part oxygen) it is remarkably essential to all life on earth in various ways.
Water is a basic necessity, and even more essential for your survival and health than foot. While humans can survive without food for weeks in true emergencies, just a few water-deprived days will lead to serious problems, including death by dehydration.
Exactly how long it would take for someone to die due to lack of water depends on:
- Body weight
- Available food
- General health
- Weather conditions and exposure to the elements
- Activity level
Every cell in your body contains water. In fact, the human brain is made up of around 95% water, while your blood is made up of approximately 82% water. Without adequate water, your kidneys begin to fail, your brain experiences memory and concentration problems, and your body becomes fatigued and overheated. The side effects of dehydration make it even more difficult to handle the tasks associated with disaster survival.
Though you can live without water for around 3 days, there is a catch. You can’t be moving around too much. The 3 day upper limit assumes you are just sitting, and that isn’t likely to happen during a disaster. You need approximately 1 gallon of water a day to survive if you’re moving around. You can survive on a half gallon of water each day, if you’re fairly inactive. However, if you live in the desert or in an area with high humidity, you will need more than a gallon of water each day. The body must work harder to maintain its internal temperature in hot and humid climates.
Aside from drinking water, you also need water for cooking and cleaning food, washing clothes, and personal hygiene. If you have animals or a garden, you’ll also need to plan for their needs in the event of a disaster.
Disasters can strike your water supply at any time in a variety of ways:
- Earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and tornadoes cut water supplies
- Water pipelines burst
- Electricity fails and water can’t be pumped
- Water treatment plants fail
- Civil unrest leads to the shutdown of utility systems
- Water sources are contaminated by substances difficult to remove, like radiation infected water from nuclear plants
Advance knowledge and preparation are the keys to survival, but even if you have water stored up, you will still need to be able to replenish your supply.