Many articles have been written about storing water for survival. But many people have also died of dehydration with water in their possession. Knowing how to avoid dehydration in an emergency situation will be a critical skill.
Keeping enough water in your system to function in a healthy manner is important in the best of times. But in a survival/SHTF situation it becomes critical. Your body needs water to keep it cool through the evaporation of sweat. You need water to keep organs functioning correctly, to digest food and eliminate body waste.
Symptoms of Dehydration
Loosing up to 5% of body fluids causes thirst, weakness, nausea, and irritability. The pulse increases and the skin may become flushed. Judgment may be seriously impaired, even with only a 2% loss.( Often it is the stupid mistakes that actually are the killer) Loosing 10% will cause headache, dizziness and tingling in limbs. You may be unable to speak clearly or walk. The skin may begin to turn blue and vision will be impaired. Loss of 15% will cause seriously impaired vision and hearing, the tongue will swell and urination will be difficult. You may exhibit symptoms of delirium and be unable to swallow. Loss of more than 15% usually results in death. Obviously, drinking enough water to replace water loss is vital. but it isn’t the whole story. Proper nutrition, your age, and any medications you are taking will have an effect on the amount of water you need. A general rule of thumb is that in extremely hot climates you should plan on a gallon of water per person per day.
Hyponatremia (Water Intoxication)
You body needs a proper balance of electrolytes as well as sufficient water. Drinking too much water without enough electrolytes included can cause the sodium in the cells to become diluted, disrupting the proper function in the cells/body. Over an extended period of time, even though you are replacing water, if you are not replacing electrolytes, serious symptoms can occur. For an in depth article from the Mayo Clinic click here. If you have sufficient water and are eating properly, you should have no problem. Salt in you diet replaces that lost through perspiration. But if you need additional electrolytes due to food shortage, extensive time in hot weather coupled with rapid perspiration, there are a couple of choices. Gatorade and many other sports drinks do have critical electrolytes, but they also have sugar and artificial additives that are not good. Plus they are bulky in bottle form. There is another alternative that is cheaper, healthier, and easier to stash in your bug out bag. It is called Emergen-C-Electro Mix. It comes in powdered form and can be easily added to your water. It contains essential electrolyte essentials such as Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Manganese, plus Chromium. They also make other similar products in different flavors.
We had a saying in the Army that if you were not peeing a lot, you were not drinking enough. If your urine is clear, or pale yellow you are O.K. If your urine turns darker and has a very bad smell, you are dehydrating. Do not depend on your thirst alone to tell you when to drink. And do not use your perspiration to measure water loss. In hot, dry climates like here in Arizona, your perspiration evaporates almost immediately. The same hold true in very cold and dry climates. Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeinated drinks. Avoid smoking and learn to breathe through your nose. You actually lose some moisture out of you lungs when breathing. Move at night when it is cooler.
Having sufficient water, knowing the effects of dehydration, how to replace electrolytes, and how to reduce body water loss are critical components of avoiding dehydration in an emergency/SHTF situation.