Survival Basics

Water Filter Buyer’s Guide

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We touched on this topic briefly in our eBook, and suffice to say that most surface water is contaminated with parasites, disease, and other pathogens just waiting to ruin your day. Recall that pathogens exist in the water mainly due to animal activity; no human pollution or spill is required to contaminate a remote stream. In case anyone doubts the veracity of this claim, you need look no further than Les Stroud, the acclaimed Survivorman, who has contracted waterborne parasites and their associated sicknesses in areas as diverse as remote subarctic wastes and jungles that have been untouched by man.

While waterborne pathogens are rarely fatal, they can totally incapacitate an otherwise healthy individual with cramps, projectile vomit, severe diarrhea and dysentery, and eventual dehydration. Here it is in plain English: If you get sick from waterborne pathogens, you’ll be dead to the world for a minimum of a week, and maybe up to three or four weeks. You’ll be unable to move very fast, and you’ll be weak. In a disaster situation, waterborne sickness may as well be a death sentence. If you’re very old, very young, or have a compromised immune system, consider yourself dead the first time you drink Giardia contaminated water. Sounds pretty harsh – and it basically is. While there are virgin streams and creeks which are pathogen free, we can’t tell with the naked eye which ones they are, so we must treat all such bodies of water as polluted.

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