Survive an Apocalypse: First Mission, Find Water

I’ve had quite few people come into Lincoln City Archery and talk about using a bow and arrow as a way to survive an apocalypse. Some of those people have been serious and have listed out the reasons for using bows and arrows as opposed to firearms. While archery may help you survive the apocalypse by providing protection and a way to kill animals to eat more successfully, it won’t help you much with the first thing that every human needs: water.

Water for Survival

The most crucial element to any survival plan is water. Without water, people can live between three days and a week depending on other factors. People can survive longer without food, and under the right circumstances, don’t need permanent shelter, though they may need protection from the elements to avoid death due to exposure. If the world’s water systems stopped working, how would you get water?

Salt Water

Any salt water sources, like oceans, are out unless you can desalinate the water. If you have plastic during the apocalypse and wood to burn, you can create a distillation process that will generate potable water. If you don’t have wood to burn or you don’t know how to start a fire, but you have a bowl, a cup, and it’s sunny, you can let the sun do the work. However, this will entail staying in one place. If you don’t have plastic or the ability to distill the water, you’ll need to find another source.

Rivers or Lakes

Rivers or lakes may contain fresh water, but those bodies of water have other problems. You could be confronted with waterborne illnesses that cause diarrhea and other gastro-intestinal issues. You could face pollution from industries upstream, especially since there will be no government regulations, and there’s a good chance that industry safety measures failed during the apocalyptic events. This means that you’ll want to go as far upstream as possible to find out if there is anyone or anything dumping waste into the water source. If you’re fairly certain that there’s no pollution, you’ll still have to deal with microbes.

If you have a water filter, you can filter out a lot of the microbes. However, most filters only last for a certain number of gallons of water before they fail. Boiling your water for a minute will kill most microbes, but it won’t get rid of any toxins. You’ll also need to know how to start a fire and have a steady supply of firewood or other burnables.

Chemical treatments like bleach and iodine are only good if you have the chemicals. Two drops of bleach for a quart of water should do the trick. Double the amount of bleach if the water has debris. Twelve drops of a two-percent iodine tincture for a gallon of water will also render the water safer to drink. However, using iodine as a permanent solution could cause health problems, too.

A plastic bottle filled with clear water and left on a dark surface in the sun for eight hours can kill microbes. The heat and the UV light are what do the trick. If you have a plastic bottle, you should be fine, but it also means staying in one place.

Rain Water

If you’re preparing for the apocalypse, you may want to gather rain water. This is especially good in wet climates, and one would hope that the possibility of acid rain would be nil after an apocalyptic event. However, it’s important to note that some cities and states have laws that prohibit collecting rainwater, even on your home property. Once the government is gone, you’ll be able to use all the rain barrels you want, but until that happens, you’ll want to practice with the number of barrels you’re allowed.

Drill or Dig a Well

Well digging takes specialized knowledge that most of us don’t have. You want to start learning about it now and then work on using a shovel or pick in an area that doesn’t have plumbing, other pipes, or underground wires. Digging is hard work when you don’t have a machine to do it. You’ll need to be in shape to make this work, you’ll need the right tools, and you’ll need to stay in one place. Mechanical drilling will not be possible in a future apocalypse if there are no sources of energy.

Find Bottled Water

Bottled water is labeled to last as long as two years. However, as long as the bottle is kept sealed and there were no contaminates, it should be okay to drink. It may not taste good, but it shouldn’t compromise your health. The problem you’ll be faced with is how many other people have already scavenged in the area. In year five after the apocalypse, how much water are you really going to find in the bottled form? Maybe more than the amount of alcohol you’ll find, but that’s not saying much.

Your Regular Diet

Currently, most people get about 20 percent of the water they need from their diet. Berries, apples, and other fruits have high water content. If you can grow or scavenge these, you’ll be ahead of the game. Of course, growing your own food takes a different set of skills, and for a family of four it takes about two acres of land. Knowing which berries are safe to eat requires skill as well. Humans cannot always safely ingest the same berries that birds can.

Finding water is going to be your first mission in an apocalypse. If you cannot find or make safe drinking water, you won’t survive for long. As we have seen, it’s not as easy as it sounds. You may need to know how to start a fire or have the equipment with you through scavenging or before the apocalypse happens. Even this small list isn’t the best way to start because what works in theory may become problematic in practice. If you really want to be prepared, you need to learn how to do these things before the apocalypse strikes.

(This story was originally published at my Medium page. However, with their new monetization rules, I have decided to start moving over some stories to my website. I will continue to publish new articles at Medium with the hope that I will be able to reach the 100-subscriber threshold. I was at 74 subscribers when I removed this article and adapted it for my blog. You can subscribe to my Medium page here; it’s free to read a couple articles a month. If you need a traditional bow and arrow, come down to Lincoln City Archery where you can learn to shoot instinctually and pick up a bow for practice.)