Thailand Jungle Survival - Water supplyGathering water
You can live without food for quite a while. The commonly accepted theory is that you should be able to last for three weeks without food. However, you'll likely be dead in three days if you don't have water and you'll be sick and weak way before then. Staying hydrated in the jungles of Thailand is one of your top priorities.
If you are fortunate enough to find a river or creek, gather some and purify it. If you have purification tablets, follow the instructions for their use. If you don't have them or a filter pump, go ahead and make a fire so you can boil some water. Even though water is heavy to carry, you are looking to conserve energy and building a fire takes energy. It makes more sense to boil as much water as you can comfortable carry all at once instead of boiling a bit of water and then running out soon.
To maintain proper hydration in this climate, the general rule for an active day, for a medium-sized adult, is to consume a minimum of three liters (or 6.3 pints) per day. You can't get by on much less for very long. Over time this might gradually start affecting your energy level and other bodily functions. More water, to a point, is even better. If you can consume five liters per day you should be able to maintain a health water balance in your body. If you can't find enough water, limit your protein consumption as protein uses up a lot of water in the digestion process.
The pathogens in water that can harm you are too small to see. They are viruses, protozoa, bacteria, and parasites. Viruses are typically more of an issue in water sources in tropical regions. Viruses that attack bateria are known as bacteriophages. They are dangerous and common to all natural environments. Filtering, unless you have a high-quality commercial filter capable of a certain micron level of filtration, won't necessarily remove all of these bacteriophages. It is recommended that you boil or chemically-treat your drinking water to be sure.
Dysentery, from drinking impure water, can take up to three days to develop. It is also potentially fatal. In a survival situation whereby you have no idea how long you will be lost, it simply is not worth the risk to drink water that isn't treated properly.Drinking Sea Water
If sea water (saltwater) is the only water available, don't drink it. Drinking saltwater actually decreases the overall amount of usable water in your body. It causes you to urinate more, thus losing water and in the long-term, the loss of water to your brain will cause you to go mad. Survival stories from people who have survived on a raft are frequently from the ones who didn't succumb to drinking sea water. They usually watched their raft-mates slowly go mad due to Hypernatremia, which is an electrolytic imbalance caused by elevated salt (sodium) levels in the blood.
By the way, the electrolytes are Sodium Chloride (common table salt), Magnesium, Potassium, and Calcium. These work in conjunction with water; they do not work on their own. In other words, for electrolytes to work, you must consume the proper amount of water in order for your body to properly assimilate the chemicals. Many commercial electrolyte drinks contain enormous amounts of sugar, which can inhibit water absorption. If it tastes really sweet, do yourself a favor and dilute it. The same holds true for some electrolyte powders. Check the amount of sugar in the ingredient list. If in doubt, dilute it a bit more than the instructions dictate.Symptoms of Dehydration
Early symptoms of dehydration often include headaches, cramps (especially in the leg and foot muscles), a general feeling of fatigue, dark urine, a lack of urine, and of course, thirst. However, thirst is not a good indicator. If you wait until you're thirsty, you've waited too long.
Furthermore, people in the 50s or older tend to experience the sensation of thirst even less.
Symptoms of dehydration can occur with as little as a 2% decrease in your normal water intake.
As your intake percentage decreases, your performance capability decreases. You might start feeling dizzy and have trouble concentrating. Your heart rate increases as your blood thickens. Blood is mostly water and a thicker blood makes your heart work harder. When excessively thick, it's difficult for your brain to get the amount of blood it needs. The brain is between 80% to 90% water. Blood is over 80% water. Things start going really bad really quickly when you reach a state of less water in your blood and it takes quite a while for recovery. In other words, it took a while to reach this state and it's going to take a while to recover from it as well.Staying Hydrated
It is easier for your body to assimilate water if taken in slowly and steadily. This means that it's better to drink a couple of mouthfuls of water every ten to fifteen minutes instead of chugging a large amount every hour.
If your water is limited, try to avoid eating. Protein is something you should especially try to avoid if you don't have an abundance of water.Getting Your Water Supply Where You Might not Consider
Human blood is mostly water and so is animal blood. As nasty as it sounds, there have been cases where people have survived by drinking animal blood. There was a case where a gentleman lost at sea drank turtle blood to stay alive. He lived for more than a month off of it.
Likewise, you can get liquids from fish spines and a bit from their eyes. Yes, it's nasty, but it beats the alternative.
If you're on land there are less-gross options. Banana trees, for example, contain a lot of water. You can drive a tap, such as a hollow section of bamboo, into the trunk of a banana tree and put a container below it. The water that comes out isn't exactly tasty, but it works.
You can also cut a banana tree down and obtain water. Cut near the base of the tree and dig out a bowl shape. It will fill with drinkable water.
Also, if you strip the banana trunk down to the inner section, you can eat it. It is full of vital electrolytes. The banana flower is also edible. So, you can eat the stalk, flower and of course, the fruit.
Some vines contain a good amount of water. However, some also contain dangerous chemicals. If you don't know which vines to use, this is not a good option. If you do, it's a nice source of clean, fresh water.
Of course, many fruits contain a nice quantity of water. Some animals, such as Gibbons, rely almost entire on fruit for their water needs. Another good thing is that the water found in fruit is clean and ready. It doesn't need to be processed. In your effort conserve energy, to replace energy as easily as possible and to stay hydrated, fruit is a God-send.Solar Stills
Green plant matter contains water. How can you take advantage of this knowledge? Plants give off moisture through transpiration. Transpiration, a process similar to evaporation, is the loss of water through leaves. Water departs leaves through the stomata, which are microscopic pores on the surface level of leaves. Solar radiation triggers plants to transpire.
To take advantage of this natural action, you can make a solar still. All you'll need is a sheet of plastic, some rocks or other weights, something to dig a hole in the soil or sand and a container to catch water.
Find an area that will received direct sunlight for a long period of time. Dig a shallow hole. The diameter or size of the hole is dictated by the size of plastic sheet that you possess. If, for example, you have a sheet of plastic that's about a meter in diameter, dig a hole with a diameter that's slightly less. Place your water container in the center of the hole. Make sure it won't fall over, but building up a bit of dirt around the base. Next, place a lot of leaves around the bottom of the dirt hole.
The next step is to place the plastic sheet over the hole and put weights around the edge of the plastic sheet to keep it in place. Try to seal the perimeter. Now, with just enough slack in the plastic to make it droop a bit in the middle, place a small stone in the middle and make sure it is directly over the water container on the underside of the plastic.
The way this works is as the sun shines down on and through the plastic it causes the leaves to release their water (transpire). This evaporated water goes up to the plastic, beads and hopefully rolls down into the container. It's just that easy to get clean drinking water from plants.
If you don't have access to a lot of leaves, you can use muddy water, mud, saltwater, seaweed and even urinate in the hole and let that evaporate. Yes, you can use urine. Clean water will evaporate from your urine up into the plastic. The offensive unhealthy parts (ammonia and salts) in the urine will stay behind, thankfully.Carrying Water Supply
If you don't have a huge water container, all it not lost. There are natural ways to carry water. Case in point, large diameter bamboo sections can carry quite a bit. Cut large diameter bamboo right below a joint at one end and just under the joint at the other end and you've got yourself an open container. You can seal it if you're on rough terrain with large leaves, such as banana leaves. Use cord or natural twine to hold the cover on.
As you can boil water in the same bamboo, provided you don't mind getting black soot on your clothing, you can carry it in the same bamboo used to purify it. Or, you can cut a separate section of the same stalk of bamboo to make a clean carrier. Make sure the inside is clean. It makes sense to pour a bit of the boiling water in it and swish it around to help kill any nasties that might inhabit the inside of the container.
Copyright © 1999-present Paddle Asia Co., Ltd. All rights reserved.
This page last updated on