In the summertime when you get hot, sweaty and sticky, it is quite natural to reach for a nice, cool glass of water to quench your thirst. In the Fall and Winter, however, it is easy to forget to drink an adequate amount of water to stay hydrated.
Think about it. You are indoors, covered with layers of warm clothing and subject to the dry heat produced by your furnace wood stove, or fireplace. Talk about a recipe for dehydration.
Today I discuss some reasons why you need to drink water for survival. This may see rather simplistic and you may be saying to yourself, “yeah, I know that” and move on. Before doing so however, keep in mind that in a stressful disaster, survival, collapse, or SHTF situation, you are going to need to be healthy, alert, and physically able to deal with the toils of the environment and the chaos around you. And for that, you need to be hydrated.
Simply stated, dehydration occurs when your body does not have sufficient water and fluids to function in peak form. To re-nourish your cells, the remedy is to drink water and lots of it. Let me tell you why.
Eight Reasons to Drink Water
1. Protect Your Immune System: The lack of water can dry out the mucous membranes of your lungs, stomach, intestines, and sinus passages. This is especially true in the winter. When this happens, you lose your resistance to disease since these barriers can only protect your body against bacteria, viruses, and pollutants when they fully hydrated and intact.
2. Lose or Maintain a Healthy Weight: A well-hydrated body has a higher level of oxygen in the bloodstream, translating into an increased ability to burn fat as fuel. In addition, drinking water reduces hunger by quenching your appetite so you eat less.
3. Prevent Headaches: Drinking plenty of water can mitigate headaches. You will often hear that someone who has been vomiting will come down with a massive headache. This is not fallacy and has happened to me. The reason for this is the lack of fluids and electrolytes.
General dehydration can also bring upon what is commonly referred to as a low-grade headache. Whatever the type, a headache is no fun and a severe headache, such as a migraine, can be debilitating for hours if not days.
4. Prevent Indigestion and Constipation: I am not trying to be gross, but to keep things moving down your digestive track, the solids need water. Plain and simple. Keep the digestive track well-flushed so that you can flush frequently yourself!
5. Relieve Fatigue: Dehydration has been associated with decreases in mental concentration and physical coordination. The result is fatigue. The dehydrated body has to work hard simply to perform its most basic functions, sapping energy and leaving you exhausted. Feeling tired? Drinking water will give you an instant energy boost.
6. Energize the Muscles for Better Exercise: Cells that don’t maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel. This can result in muscle fatigue. When muscle cells don’t have adequate fluids, they don’t work as well and performance can suffer. As long as you are going through the effort of working out and staying fit, why not get the most out of your efforts by staying well hydrated?
Note: the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines recommend that people start drinking fluids about two hours before exercise. During exercise, they recommend that people start drinking fluids early, and drink them at regular intervals to replace fluids lost by sweating.
7. Healthy Looking Skin: The skin is an organ, and just like any other part of the body, the organ is made up of cells. And skin cells, like the other cells in the body, are made up of water. If your skin is not getting a sufficient amount of water, the lack of hydration will present itself by turning your skin dry, tight and flaky. Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling. This is not a pretty picture and no amount of creams, ointments, or salves will improve your skin if you do not take in an adequate supply of water.
8. A Positive Outlook: According to the Mayo Clinic, even mild levels of dehydration can hinder your emotional state. Although drinking water is not known to directly cause positive moods, it can give you a lift by preventing lethargy. You will feel good and that in itself will make you happy.
Are You Dehydrated?
The most obvious clues that you are dehydrated are thirst and dry mouth. For some, these symptoms may be so common that they do not connect the dots and do not realize they are dehydrated. Besides headache, fatigue, sallow and dry skin, constipation and other woes, the color of urine can be a clear indication of your hydration levels. The darker the yellow, the greater the level of dehydration. When you see this, toss back a few glasses of water and at the next potty-break, you should see some definite improvement.
To summarize, here is a list of the symptoms of dehydration:
- Little or no urine, or urine that is darker than usual, especially if it is almost orange
- Dry mouth
- Sleepiness or fatigue
- Extreme thirst
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- No tears when crying
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, grab some water fast. Better yet, since your electrolytes most likely are also low, add a quarter to a half a teaspoon of sea salt to your glass of water and you will feel a lot better sooner.
How Much Drinking Water Do You Need?
For preppers, the standard rule of thumb is to store 1 gallons of water per person per day. Okay, I get that. But how much does your body absolutely need? Here is a very general rule of thumb:
Take your body weight in pounds, divide in half, and that is a general guideline for the amount of water, in ounces, you need to consume daily while performing normal activities. If you are chopping wood, fighting off bad guys, or otherwise exerting yourself in a survival situation, the amount will be more.
Also, consider the fact that vegetables and fruits contain a goodly amount of water that can contribute to the daily requirement. Alas, fruits and veggies may be difficult to come by in a survival situation but if you have a bountiful garden, you will be in luck.
Want something other than plain old H2O? You can also drink unsweetened beverages such as herbal teas, juices, and yes, to some extent, even coffee. The later is a bit controversial but leading health authorities including the Institute of Medicine and the American College of Sports Medicine say that’s a myth. While caffeine does signal our kidneys to rid our bodies of excess water, it does so for only a short time, so we still retain more fluid than we lose after sipping a caffeinated beverage. You be the judge.
Water Storage and Purification
While not the subject of this article, it goes without saying that in addition to stored water, you should have a number of water purification methods on hand. There are many excellent systems available at various price points in including the Berkey, ProPur, LifeStraw, and SolarBag.
It would also be a good idea to have some water purification tablets on hand. I keep a bottle in my car and also in all of my various survival packs.
The Final Word
You have probably heard this before but let me repeat it: you can survive for 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food.
When it comes to water and water storage, remember that you need to drink water and stay hydrated if you are going to survive. Whether you use the official 1 gallon per person guideline, or the simple little calculation above, storing water and then actually drinking it is a should be a priority both before, during and after a disruptive event.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!