The most important aspect of survival is… staying healthy.
Without your health — your ability to breathe, eat, move freely and enjoy life — you aren’t living, you are merely existing. And without your health in a survival situation, you will most likely succumb to the situation you are trying to survive.
Believe it or not, the single most important part of maintaining your health and surviving is staying hydrated.
Bodies of Water
Our bodies are 60% water. It’s in our cells, our blood vessels, our bones, and it surrounds our brain and spinal cord. Water is essential to life for the proper functioning of all our systems.
The problem is that it is VERY easy to become dehydrated, because so few of us drink the amount of water we need. In fact, most of us live in a continual state of mild dehydration because of all the soda, tea and coffee we drink.
Without proper hydration we get headaches and walk around fatigued, grumpy and irritable. It’s amazing what good water does for you.
In order to tip the balance in a positive direction, it’s a good idea to drink approximately one ounce for every kilogram of body weight every day. An easy way to convert pounds to kilograms is to take half your weight in pounds and subtract 10%.
Let’s say you weigh 200 pounds. One half of that is 100. Subtract 10% and you’ve got 90 kg. So ideally, you’d want to drink about 90 ounces of water a day.
In a stressful survival environment, your hydration needs will increase. A good rule of thumb here is to drink enough water that your pee stays clear. The darker your urine is, the harder your kidneys are working to concentrate urine so your body holds onto precious fluids.
And remember, by the time you’re thirsty, you are already dry.
Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Here’s a slightly embarrassing personal story. You know, we’re all “invincible,” right? We’re hard and we keep pushing through any barriers or obstacles.
Well, when I was with 20th Special Forces Group, we were doing a land navigation exercise at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, in July. It was HOT. And I was young and stupid.
The older guys told us to make sure we had water before we started the exercise. But I figured I was smart and in shape and would complete the course in no time since I had “superior” land navigation skills.
I bet you can guess what happened. I got lost. I thought I was dying of thirst. I didn’t know how to get back. I had no water. I saw a dirty stream and actually thought for a second about drinking a little water after filtering it through my shirt (this is not a good idea).
Thankfully, I wasn’t as lost as I thought — I was just hot, tired and dehydrated. Soon I was able to pick up my bearings again and finally get back to base.
So remember: ALWAYS take water. ALWAYS have a good water filter with you. And ALWAYS stay hydrated.
[Managing editor’s note: The SurvFilter is one of the best survival filters on the market. However, this handy device isn’t just for emergencies. I take my SurvFilter on day hikes which cuts down on the amount of water I have to lug with me. It fits neatly in my backpack, is extremely easy to use and keeps me fully hydrated. Click here for more details.]