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8 Reasons to Drink Water for Survival

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
8 Reasons to Drink Water for Survival

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In the summertime when you get hot, sweaty and sticky, it is quite natural to reach for a nice, cool glass of water to quench your thirst.  In the Fall and Winter, however, it is easy to forget to drink an adequate amount of water to stay hydrated.

Think about it.  You are indoors, covered with layers of warm clothing and subject to the dry heat produced by your furnace wood stove, or fireplace.  Talk about a recipe for dehydration.

Today I discuss some reasons why you need to drink water for survival.  This may seem rather simplistic and you may be saying to yourself,  “yeah, I know that” and move on.  Before doing so, however, keep in mind that in a stressful disaster, survival, collapse, or SHTF situation, you are going to need to be healthy, alert, and physically able to deal with the toils of the environment and the chaos around you.  And for that, you need to be hydrated.

8 reasons to drink water for survival

Simply stated, dehydration occurs when your body does not have sufficient water and fluids to function in peak form. To re-nourish your cells, the remedy is to drink water and lots of it.  Let me tell you why.

Eight Reasons to Drink Water

1.  Protect Your Immune System:  The lack of water can dry out the mucous membranes of your lungs, stomach, intestines, and sinus passages.  This is especially true in the winter.  When this happens, you lose your resistance to disease since these barriers can only protect your body against bacteria, viruses, and pollutants when they fully hydrated and intact.

2.  Lose or Maintain a Healthy Weight:  A well-hydrated body has a higher level of oxygen in the bloodstream, translating into an increased ability to burn fat as fuel.  In addition, drinking water reduces hunger by quenching your appetite so you eat less.

3.  Prevent Headaches:  Drinking plenty of water can mitigate headaches.  You will often hear that someone who has been vomiting will come down with a massive headache.  This is not fallacy and has happened to me.  The reason for this is the lack of fluids and electrolytes.

General dehydration can also bring upon what is commonly referred to as a low-grade headache.  Whatever the type, a headache is no fun and a severe headache, such as a migraine, can be debilitating for hours if not days.

4.  Prevent Indigestion and Constipation:  I am not trying to be gross, but to keep things moving down your digestive tract, the solids need water.  Plain and simple.  Keep the digestive track well-flushed so that you can flush frequently yourself!

5.  Relieve Fatigue:  Dehydration has been associated with decreases in mental concentration and physical coordination.  The result is fatigue.  The dehydrated body has to work hard simply to perform its most basic functions, sapping energy and leaving you exhausted.  Feeling tired?  Drinking water will give you an instant energy boost.

6.  Energize the Muscles for Better Exercise: Cells that don’t maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel. This can result in muscle fatigue. When muscle cells don’t have adequate fluids, they don’t work as well and performance can suffer.  As long as you are going through the effort of working out and staying fit, why not get the most out of your efforts by staying well hydrated?

Note:  the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines recommend that people start drinking fluids about two hours before exercise. During exercise, they recommend that people start drinking fluids early, and drink them at regular intervals to replace fluids lost by sweating.

7.  Healthy Looking Skin:  The skin is an organ, and just like any other part of the body, the organ is made up of cells.  And skin cells, like the other cells in the body, are made up of water.  If your skin is not getting a sufficient amount of water, the lack of hydration will present itself by turning your skin dry, tight and flaky. Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling.  This is not a pretty picture and no amount of creams, ointments, or salves will improve your skin if you do not take in an adequate supply of water.

8.  A Positive Outlook:  According to the Mayo Clinic, even mild levels of dehydration can hinder your emotional state.  Although drinking water is not known to directly cause positive moods, it can give you a lift by preventing lethargy.  You will feel good and that in itself will make you happy.

Are You Dehydrated?

The most obvious clues that you are dehydrated are thirst and dry mouth.  For some, these symptoms may be so common that they do not connect the dots and do not realize they are dehydrated. Besides headache, fatigue, sallow and dry skin, constipation and other woes, the color of urine can be a clear indication of your hydration levels.  The darker the yellow, the greater the level of dehydration.  When you see this, toss back a few glasses of water and at the next potty-break, you should see some definite improvement.

To summarize, here is a list of the symptoms of dehydration:

  • Little or no urine, or urine that is darker than usual, especially if it is almost orange
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness or fatigue
  • Extreme thirst
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • No tears when crying

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, grab some water fast.  Better yet, since your electrolytes most likely are also low, add a quarter to a half a teaspoon of sea salt to your glass of water and you will feel a lot better sooner.

How Much Drinking Water Do You Need?

For prepper’s, the standard rule of thumb is to store 1 gallon of water per person per day.  Okay, I get that.  But how much does your body absolutely need?  Here is a very general rule of thumb:

Take your body weight in pounds, divide in half, and and that is a general guideline for the amount of water, in ounces, you need to consume daily while performing normal activities.  If you are chopping wood, fighting off bad guys, or otherwise exerting yourself in a survival situation, the amount will be more.

Also, consider the fact that vegetables and fruits contain a goodly amount of water that can contribute to the daily requirement.  Alas, fruits and veggies may be difficult to come by in a survival situation but if you have a bountiful garden, you will be in luck.

Want something other than plain old H2O?  You can also drink unsweetened beverages such as herbal teas, juices, and yes, to some extent, even coffee.  The later is a bit controversial but leading health authorities including the Institute of Medicine and the American College of Sports Medicine say that’s a myth. While caffeine does signal our kidneys to rid our bodies of excess water, it does so for only a short time, so we still retain more fluid than we lose after sipping a caffeinated beverage.  You be the judge.

Water Storage and Purification

While not the subject of this article, it goes without saying that in addition to stored water, you should have a number of water purification methods on hand.  There are many excellent systems available at various price points in including the Berkey, ProPur, LifeStraw, and SolarBag.

aquatabs water_1

It would also be a good idea to have some water purification tablets on hand.  I keep a bottle in my car and also in all of my various survival packs.

The Final Word

You have probably heard this before but let me repeat it:  you can survive for 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food.

When it comes to water and water storage, remember that you need to drink water and stay hydrated if you are going to survive.  Whether you use the official 1 gallon per person guideline, or the simple little calculation above, storing water and then actually drinking it is a should be a priority both before, during and after a disruptive event.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for me daily at Top Prepper Websites!  In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Bargain Bin: Survival is all about learning to fend for yourself. Growing your own food, cooking and building stuff are all essential. In addition to items related to water, here are some ideas to get you started.

Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets: Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets make questionable water bacteriologically suitable to drink. Easy to use and the water is ready to drink in 30 minutes. One 50 tablet bottle treats 25 quarts of water.

Celtic Sea Salt, Fine Ground: Sea salt is an important component of DIY electrolyte drinks.

AquaPod:   Have you considered storing water in your bathtub?  The AquaPod is a bladder that you can use in your bathtub to store water if you know that a storm, flood, or hurricane is brewing. (I call these “disruptive events”.)

DryTec Calcium Hypochlorite, 1-Pound AKA “Pool Shock”:  This is 68% Calcium Hypochlorite.   I purchased Ultima Pool Shock which is 73% Calcium Hypochlorite.  For more information, read How to Use Pool Shock to Purify Water.

Puralytics SolarBag Water Purifier:  The SolarBag is easy to use a water purification system that is lightweight and portable.  Where it really excels is in removing contaminants from water, plus, it can be used hundreds of time?  Highly recommended!  Read my review:  The SolarBag Water Purifier.

LifeStraw Family Water Purifier:  Taking care of water needs is high at the top of my list. The Lifestraw Family contains no chemicals, no batteries, and no moving parts to wear out. It features a high flow rate and is the perfect solution to your portable water purification needs – whether bugging in or bugging out. As of this writing, shipping is free.  Here is my review: Clean, Drinkable Water – LifeStraw Family Review.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter:  The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultralight personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2oz.  making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.

Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things: Lots of tips for cleaning and fixing stuff as well as using common household items to solves those little problems around the house.

Lodge Logic 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet: This purchase changed the way I cook. I use my cast iron cookware for everything from bacon and eggs, to baked chicken, biscuits, grilled sandwiches and more. There is no excuse not to own this survival basic. Be sure to select the “value pack” to get the best price. Don’t forget the Lodge Set of 2 Pan Scrapers, a must have for cleaning those food bits from your cast iron cookware.

Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!


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14 Responses to “8 Reasons to Drink Water for Survival”

  1. I find myself drinking too much coffee or tea in the winter to stay warm and that tends to dehydrate/constipate me. Solution turns out to be to drink a cup of hot/warm water with a drop of peppermint essential oil in it for flavor and that even helps some digestive issues that crop up. Love your posts Gaye. Always so informative and the comments afterward provide lot of info also.

  2. I do agree that drinking in the summer is crucial, however it is just as important to stay hydrated in the winter, and that is a time where it is harder to notice that you are thirsty. I like your site 🙂

  3. Regarding water, I am either a superhuman, or the water need is highly exaggerated?

    I do not during ANY water. I mean Zero water. I during 4 or 5 cups of coffee in the morning, sometimes, a cup of tea in the afternoon, and two or three glasses of wine with dinner.

    I do not eat much of vegetable, but I eat a fruit once in a while.

    So, all the insistence on 7 glasses of water is not applicable on me. I will hit 70 years in a few month, and do not go to doctors, or take any medication. So if it is true that you must drink gallons of water just to survive, then again, I am a proof that such a theory is a lie.

  4. Great list! Been doing some research myself so I’m sharing.
    Health Benefits of water: Balance PH, regulates body temperature, reduces risks for osteoporosis/hip fractures, distributes oxygen throughout body, collects carbon dioxide/dissolves these gases, metabolism, BACKACHES, constipation/heartburn/migraine/gastritis/ulcers, kidney stones, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, pregnant women/nursing mothers, kidney function, skin tone
    Water intake is also related to the amount of food you eat. Research has shown that an adult needs approximately one cubic centimeter of water for each calorie consumed. So if you consume 2,000 calories a day, you should drink 2,000 cc (roughly 8-1/2 cups) of water.

  5. I’m trying to drink more water. And not to drink any diet sodas and energy drinks. I decided to load cases of water in the car to avoid stopping for drinks. At home I’m fine.

  6. in this article you mentioned that water from fruits and veggies counts and that is another benefit from having your own garden/food producing plants and trees. I absolutely agree but it made me wonder. What is your opinion (which I highly value btw) about how well our gardens will fare in a collapse situation. I mean do you think that will make us a more noticeable target or give away our hiding spot? I hope this is not sounding snarky because I am totally serious. I am a homesteader basically in the middle of nowhere, and I think that does and will serve me and my family well both now and after a collapse. But what I am wondering/worrying about is if people see my crops growing, milk cow etc. how can I defend a crop growing for months day and night and even during the winter anybody who I kept away will assume that I now have stored what I grew. even if you have a totally secure bunker that you can be safe in, that doesn’t mean you crops etc. will be. I was just wondering what your thoughts are on this scenario. thanks.

    • Do a search for secret garden of survival – there is even a youtube video. That looks like the best way to not have to spend a lot of time protecting your garden.

    • oh my Jim, thanks for that tip! I am sometimes appalled at my own ignorance. I looked into that this afternoon and I had a serious lightbulb coming on moment(if that makes sense). I cant believe that I’ve never heard of anything like this before and I never would have thought of it on my own. This is now officially on my ‘to do’ list.

    • I’m not the website owner, but it has been my experience in third world countries that when gardening you can keep whatever you can defend, defend, defend. It’s that simple, it doesn’t matter if its fruits and vegetables, or barbedwire, fence posts, or five gallons of liquid fertilizer. What you are willing to defend and how far you are willing to take that defense will determine how much you keep. PS: Gardening of any kind, small or large, will always garner unwanted attention. thanks

    • @pants…I appreciate your insight. The ones that do survive/thrive in these third world countries that you mention….how do they do it? What works and doesn’t work for them?

    • Yours is one of the better reasons for finding like-minded people. So you barter your produce for their help in defending your land. It’s a good bet, they can’t do the farming that you can. Also, check into permaculture farming. Your question about your animals is one I’ve thought about and discovered that in the old ancient days, this is one of the reasons, the people slept above their livestock in the same building. Along with that came the fact of heat rising kept the people warmer too. 😉

    • Dee, as usual you have given an insightful response, thank you. It was my initial line of thinking to trade other people guard duty in exchange for some of the bounty, but I have yet to find ANY likeminded people within a 50 mile radius, and my trust in most people does not extend very far when times are good, let alone when lives are at stake. The permaculture thing is very much on my radar now though. The animal thing at first made me laugh but it’s kind of growing on me already lol. I really love my cows, chickens, ducks, etc…

  7. I purchased the 3M tekk chemical splash/impact goggle. It fits my husband, but not me. I emailed the company and they only have the one size. So what is your next suggestion for us smaller women for the best type of goggles. Especially with the Ebolla coming to America.

  8. Question… When I go to vote for you as the top prepper website, I read “votes in” and “votes out”. What does that mean?

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