If you’ve ever seen the Discovery TV show Survivorman, you’ll surely be familiar with host and survival expert Les Stroud. While most of Les’s survival journeys were in the wilderness, he also briefly addressed urban survival. In the bonus content on the Survivorman season 3 DVD, there’s a 40-minute special video titled “Surviving Urban Disasters” which addresses how to deal with an urban flood scenario.
During this urban survival special, Les discusses one of the most imminent threats to survival: finding clean drinking water. As he aptly points out, water will be everywhere during an urban flood, but drinking it could lead to serious illness. Flood water will be full of raw sewage, chemical runoff, and all sorts of other harmful contaminants. So, you’ll need to find a clean source quickly.
If water floods your home, anything below the water line is virtually guaranteed to be contaminated.
In this video, Les provides three quick tips for how to find or obtain clean water, even when all the water around you seems undrinkable. Watch the YouTube mirror below, or click here to view the original version on the Science Channel web site.
To summarize, here are Les Stroud’s three methods for finding clean water, and why they’re effective:
Drink from the toilet tank — This reservoir is above the waterline, and was filled with clean tap water, assuming you haven’t flushed it since the flood began. If flushed, the tank may have been refilled with contaminated tap water, so be careful. (Your home water heater is another potential source of clean water.)
Distill water — Boiling is effective at killing bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. However, if you suspect your water contains chemical runoff or has mixed with seawater, boiling it will only concentrate these contaminants. Distillation removes most impurities, including salt and chemicals, by heating the water into vapor and condensing the vapor back to liquid.
Make a rain catch — A simple rain catch on the windowsill can funnel clean rain water into a container. Just be sure you’re collecting pure rain, not runoff from the roof or gutters, as this may be contaminated.
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