*The Importance of Water Purification*
**For those with weak stomachs be advised: I included the details of Dysentery, read at your own risk**
Having clean water is priority one in a survival situation. We all should know the rule of 3's (3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, and three weeks without food), so seeing as the earth is not going to have a shortage of air, water should be your chief concern for survival situations.
There are plenty of articles on storing water, and water collection and purification, so I'm not going to double tap….with this article anyway. One point on water that cannot be stressed enough is water treatment/sanitation. Untreated water carries waterborne illnesses. Adopt this method of thinking now, and trust no water from a SHTF scenario. Should a SHTF situation ever arise, you can bet that all water will become contaminated very quickly, and the results are none to pleasant. It is my preference to not trust water from any source, (bottled water is recalled from time to time due to contamination) and to purify everything. There are also articles on how to purify water in a survival situation so I'll skip that part too. This article is a personal experience of WHY we need to purify water.
First a little back-story. In Afghanistan, (I was deployed at the time this article was written), it is a cultural norm to invite your guests to have tea with you. Building rapport with the local populace is a cornerstone of my job, so I'm always drinking tea with the locals. Now, the tea is of course made from water, which comes from the village stream. This stream also serves as the bathroom, shower, and laundry for the whole village, and their livestock as well. (This is pretty standard in 3rd world countries) Not too sanitary, but hey, it's a 3rd world country after all. (And the US is probably going to be in similar straights should S ever HTF) So at that point all I could do was pray that they boil the water long enough to kill most everything.
Well, quite predictably, they didn't. So later on that evening I was feeling what I described at the time as an "evil bubblin", and then I got to once again experience one of Afghanistan's finest: Dysentery. (Hey, at least I didn't "offend" the family)
I won't sugar coat it, Dysentery is one hail of a suck. It took me (a 6ft, 200lb guy in peak physical condition), and made me bedridden. If you are stricken with this, or most other waterborne illnesses, you are absolutely 100% useless. This is my second time with it, so I thought I might have some small immunity to it, but no, it still knocked me out for 3 days. When sick, you can expect a high fever, chills, muscle ache, vomiting, diarrhea, and serious weakness (too weak to do anything with a weapon; even walking around and staying awake is a battle). It's also three days of little no eating (you can't keep food down; I couldn't even drink chicken broth) The worst part about it is that it dehydrates you massively. Not at all good in a survival situation. Especially if you didn't purify the water properly and all you have to drink is the contaminated water. (Continuing to drink contaminated water will prevent you from dying of dehydration, but keep in mind you won't get better; you'll pretty much just have perpetual dysentery.)When you are not sleeping, you are pretty much glued to a toilet, defecating so hard you vomit, and vomiting so hard you defecate (Yes, at the same time….. I thought of it as a "life experience" [a second sub thought, I could not stop thinking about Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire :P ] ) This creates a myriad of more problems, both physical and sanitary. From a security standpoint, anyone who drank the water (which could be everyone, but in our case, only 3 guys) being 100% useless for three or more days is a huge problem. All daily operations will grind to a halt. You will be down those individuals, plus the additional individuals required rendering care. With that in mind, an outbreak of waterborne disease can quickly incapacitate a small community.
Also, it is exponentially worse for women, children, and any with compromised immune systems. Young children and elderly out here do die from this. From a sanitation standpoint, this not only opens you up for further contamination, but provides a very simple pathway for additional pathogens to spread. Restroom facilities are going to need to be cleaned after each infected individual. Extra care must be taken in the handling of their feces and hygiene materials. (All parties involved in the waste production and reduction must ensure proper sanitation for them, because dysentery can spread through contact as well).
Another aspect of waterborne illnesses (and illnesses in general) is the stocking appropriate supplies. Hygiene supplies are the most important supply you can posses, especially with gastrointestinal illnesses. (TP, baby wipes, and especially cleaning supplies), Stopping the spread of the illness is priority one (while extremely uncomfortable, people can endure the symptoms) Next in priority is meds (all you can do is treating the symptoms) In my case, I took a pill cocktail that consisted of anti nausea, anti diarrheal, and a fever & pain reducer. Then, to prevent future illnesses, acquire some water sanitation/purification supplies.
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