Dehydration is one of the biggest killers in an SHTF type environment. You need to know its effects on you and others and how to counteract it! According to the Mayo Clinic “dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If you don’t replace lost fluids, you will get dehydrated.” In an SHTF situation everyone will be dehydrated on a regular and reoccurring basis. You can usually reverse mild to moderate dehydration by drinking more fluids (Preferably water), but severe dehydration may require immediate medical treatment from a qualified health professional. At the USAF SERE school we used to teach that when you are thirsty you are already 5% dehydrated. When you reach 10% dehydration you are unconscious. At 5% dehydration your mental capacity is already degraded by 25%. That means 1 out of every 4 decisions could be wrong. In a SHTF situation that will get you dead quickly. SO PAY ATTENTION TO DEHYDRATION and your ability to find, transport, store and purify drinking water.
According to the May Clinic “thirst isn’t always a reliable early indicator of the body’s need for water. Many people, particularly older adults, don’t feel thirsty until they’re already dehydrated. That’s why it’s important to increase water intake during hot or cold weather or when you’re ill or doing strenuous exercise.” The signs and symptoms of dehydration also may differ by age.
Infant or young child
Dry mouth and tongue
No tears when crying
No wet diapers for three hours
Sunken eyes, cheeks
Sunken soft spot on top of skull
Listlessness or irritability
Mood Change – Irritability
Less frequent urination –
Dark-colored urine – strive for a light yellow to clearish (realize this is not always the best indicator).
Slow capillary refill – 2 second or less is good.
You may be asking yourself – Self – I wonder how quickly I could become dehydrated? The answer is simple. It really all depends on how quickly your body is using fluids. If you are in a very hot and humid environment and you are doing tough physical work you could find yourself becoming dehydrated in a matter of several hours!
Causes of Dehydration
The Mayo Clinic says that “sometimes dehydration occurs for simple reasons: You don’t drink enough because you’re sick or busy, or because you lack access to safe drinking water when you’re traveling, hiking or camping.
Other dehydration causes include:
Diarrhea, vomiting. Severe, acute diarrhea — that is, diarrhea that comes on suddenly and violently — can cause a tremendous loss of water and electrolytes in a short amount of time. If you have vomiting along with diarrhea, you lose even more fluids and minerals.
Fever. In general, the higher your fever, the more dehydrated you may become. The problem worsens if you have a fever in addition to diarrhea and vomiting.
Excessive sweating. You lose water when you sweat. If you do vigorous activity and don’t replace fluids as you go along, you can become dehydrated. Hot, humid weather increases the amount you sweat and the amount of fluid you lose. Extremely cold weather when bundled up too much can cause excessive sweating.
Increased urination. This may be due to undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes. Certain medications, such as diuretics and some blood pressure medications, also can lead to dehydration, generally because they cause you to urinate more.”
Complications of Dehydration
Dehydration can lead to serious complications, including:
Heat injuries. If you don’t drink enough water when you’re exercising strenuously and sweating profusely, you may end up with a serious heat injury. Heat injuries can range in severity from heat cramps to heat exhaustion or deadly heatstroke.
Urinary and kidney problems can also be a complication. Repeated or extended periods of dehydration can cause urinary tract infections (UTI), kidney stones or possibly even kidney failure.
Seizures. Electrolytes — such as potassium and sodium — help carry electrical signals from cell to cell within your body. If your electrolytes are too out of balance, the normal electrical messages can become very mixed up, which can lead to involuntary muscle contractions and sometimes to a loss of consciousness. Having a seizure in an SHTF situation could be quite dangerous!
Low blood volume shock (hypovolemic shock). This is one of the most serious, and possibly life-threatening, complications of dehydration. It occurs when low blood volume causes a dangerous drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen in your body which can throw you into shock.
Prevention of Dehydration
The Mayo Clinic says that “to prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in water such as fruits and vegetables. Letting thirst be your guide is an adequate daily guideline for most healthy people.
People may need to take in more fluids if they are experiencing conditions such as:
Vomiting or diarrhea. If your child is vomiting or has diarrhea, start giving extra water or an oral rehydration solution at the first signs of illness. Don’t wait until dehydration occurs.
Strenuous exercise. In general, it’s best to start hydrating the day before strenuous exercise. Producing lots of clear, dilute urine is a good indication that you’re well-hydrated. During the activity, replenish fluids at regular intervals and continue drinking water or other fluids after you’re finished.
Hot or cold weather. You need to drink additional water in hot or humid weather to help lower your body temperature and to replace what you lose through sweating. You may also need extra water in cold weather to combat moisture loss from dry air, particularly at higher altitudes
Illness. Older adults most commonly become dehydrated during minor illnesses — such as influenza, bronchitis or bladder infections. Make sure to drink extra fluids when you’re not feeling well.”
How Much Water Should You Drink Daily?
Everyone has heard that eight – 8 once glasses of water (or about 2 liters) per day is sufficient for normal sedentary life. But in a SHTF situation you really will need to consider bumping that up to about a gallon a day or more during SHTF. You need to be mentally aware, alert, engaged and you will be regularly physically exhausting your self with work, extra walking, carrying water, hunting, gardening, etc. So you need to plan for a bare minimum of at least one gallon per day for each person to physically drink. This amount will not be sufficient for sanitation and hygiene purposes as well. If you include that you will need to plan for at least two gallons per person per day.
How Much Water Is Too Much Water?
According to the National Institute of Health “A healthy person with normal renal function should not drink more than 1 liter per hour.” “A normal kidney can excrete approximately 20 Liters per day.” However, you not only need to monitor water intake you also need to make sure to be intaking electrolytes as well. So the actual amount you intake throughout the day is not the most important factor. The important thing is to regulate the rate at which you are intaking water so that your kidneys have time to secrete the appropriate amount to keep your fluid and electrolyte balance at the right level.
Having the ability to gather and transport water is a massively important part of your overall prepping plan. You need to consider how you will transport water from near by ground sources to your home. Will you use 5 gallon buckets, a well bucket, rain water catchment system, stock tanks, etc
Also having the ability to purify water is important is equally important. You need to know multiple ways to purify water including the following methods: boiling, pasteurizing, filtering, UV rays (SODIS Method), treat chemically, distill, etc. Here are a couple of great videos that cover some of these methods.
Additionally, having the ability to store water in bulk is also very important. There are multiple options for doing this such as using 55 gallon water barrels, or you can use the 5 or 6 gallon water cooler bottles, or even just 1 gallon water jugs that you can get at Wal-Mart or even the dollar general store. You can also use Water Bricks, or just buy cases of bottled water. Or perhaps you own a pool, or a large stock tank.
How much water do you need on hand?
I try to advocate as much as you can reasonably store. But lets work out some simple math to give us some general ideas. Two gallons per person per day (for drinking and sanitation). Shoot for at least 1 weeks worth as a minimum. So that means that if you have 4 people in your home, you need to plan for 2 gallons per person per day. So 8 gallons x 7 days = 56 gallons as a minimum. That is a lot of water and takes up more space that you might imagine!
One week is a bare minimum. You should really try to have at least 30 days on hand if you have the ability to store that much water. Using the same example of four people per household gives you 8 gallons x 30 days = 240 gallons. That equals roughly 4 and 1/3 – 55 gallon drums or 48 five gallon containers! Holy cow that is a lot of water! But you will go through it quickly in a serious SHTF situation and you will be glad yo had it! Not having to worry about procuring water for the first few weeks will be a massive burden that will be lifted from your shoulders.
Many people will not be able to store 30 days worth of water in their homes. So having the ability to gather and transport ground water is very important as we discussed above. Speaking of which, do you know where the nearest ground water source is that is closest to your home? If not you need to get on Google earth take a look. The you need to go take a walk and map these places out. Spend some time figuring out a plan for how you would get the water out and how you would transport it home.
WATER IS IMPORTANT AND IT DESERVES YOUR TIME AND ATTENTION!
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