How to Find Water When You are Lost

Prompt: Water

river water painting

Hello, campers, hikers, adventurers, or hapless travellers whose cars break down in the middle of nowhere…

Here’s hoping you have notified friends, family or authorities of your plans for communing with nature so that you won’t have to wait weeks to be found.

We each require about two litres or quarts of water per day, and if you are lost and stressed you will probably need more, even in cold conditions, so sourcing water is a priority.

Here are some basic tips for finding water in the woods. Stay calm and alert, and good luck!

  • Water flows downhill. Obviously. So low-lying areas are your best bet for finding rivers and streams.
  • Animals know where the water is. Look for wildlife and animal tracks. Bird flight paths early in the morning can direct you to a water source.
  • Swarming insects, bless them, can indicate that water is close by.
  • Lush green vegetation is a another sign that water is near.
  • Shhh. Woods can be quiet. Take a moment in your search to listen for rivers, because the sound will travel.
  • Rainwater: use any and all containers to collect rainwater. A poncho or plastic sheeting strung up by corners can be a syphon for the water to flow into another container, or act as a water bag.
  • Fruits and other vegetation can provide sources of water. Think coconuts or cacti; or collect water overnight from wide, sturdy leaves.
  • Snow can be melted to provide water— frozen water can actually cause dehydration so take the time to melt it.
  • If you find a muddy area, you can dig a hole about a foot deep and wide and wait for it to fill with water. You’ll need some cloth to filter the water, but it should do in a pinch.

Purify! Almost all the water you source in the wild will need to be purified. Boil the water for 10 minutes, use water purification tablets, or be prepared with something called the Lifestraw, which is an iodine-free, big fat straw that can safely filter about 700 litres of water, with sales helping to provide safe drinking water globally.

Lifestraw


  • Note: The author is not affiliated with Lifestraw; just thought it was a cool idea.
  • Top image by Chris Sampson.
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2 thoughts on “How to Find Water When You are Lost

  1. This is one of my favorite posts.. We can easily take the conveniences of progress and regress in knowledge of basics in nature.. And when the unexpected happens we are unprepared.. This is a great reminder to get back to basics, just in case..

    Liked by 1 person

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