Importance of Adequate Water

When faced with a survival situation, clean drinkable water is often the most important consideration. People have survived without food for weeks or even months, but go without water for even just one day and the survivor will be in desperate straights indeed.

Knowing that water is by far the most important nutrient for the human body (besides oxygen) and, in particular, during a survival situation when finding potable water may not be easy, the question becomes – just how long can the human body survive without adequate water?

To maintain a high level of health and efficiency even in ideal environments, a minimum of two quarts of clean water per day per person is the generally accepted rule of thumb. In very hot or cold or very dry environments, or if you are physically active, two quarts of water a day may not be enough to sustain life over a period of days or weeks.

Water lost through sweating and normal respiration must be replaced in order to stay healthy and function at top efficiency. Water is also needed to process the food you eat, especially if it is salty or you eat heavy foods like meat.

Environment and Water Needs

In general the higher the temperature the greater your water consumption needs to be. If you are active or exposed to the hot rays of the sun you may need upwards of a gallon of water per day to stay to healthy.

Perhaps surprisingly, very cold environments can be as dry as the driest desert. This is because cold air cannot hold much moisture. This cold dry air serves to dehydrate your body with every breath you take. Cold dry air can also rob your body of moisture via loss from exposed skin. This is one reason why your lips may be prone to chapping. So during cold weather even though you may not be sweating nearly as much as when you are in a hot environment you may still easily become severely dehydrated without even realizing the danger you are in.

Wind can also play a role in the amount of water you need to take in. A dry wind on exposed flesh can suck the water right out of a person. Indeed, the remains of mummified animals and even people are often found in desert regions, their bodies totally dried out.

Effects of Going Without Water

Although two thirds of the human body by weight is composed of water, this water is needed for circulation and other bodily processes including respiration and converting food to energy. If you are losing more water than you are taking in, dehydration will occur.

It has been shown that if you lose just 2.5% of your body weight from water loss, you will loose 25% of your efficiency. For a 175 pound man that is only about two quarts of water. As the survivor dehydrates, his blood becomes thicker and loses volume. This causes the heart to work harder and circulation of blood to be less efficient. In a survival situation, loosing a full one quarter of your physical and mental abilities due to dehydration could mean the end of your life. Bottom line: drink plenty of fluids whether you feel thirsty or not so that you stay a peak efficency.

Survival Times without Water

Ill health, exposure to the elements, shock, and panic can reduce your survival time in any situation. An important additional consideration is whether or not to eat food when there may be an inadequate supply of water. Certainly foods that contain a high proportion of water, such many kinds of fuits and berries may actually aid the survivor in providing water. Meat, dry and salty foods should be avoided as they require water from your body for processing and will serve to dehydrate you further.

The survivor who is in good health, who uses his head, and rations whatever water is at hand may expect to be able to survive according to the following chart. Of course, there are many factors to be considered so your mileage may vary:

How Long Can You Live Without Water?
Max Daily Temperature Number of Days in the Shade
No Water 1 Quart
.95 Liter
2 Quarts
1.90 Liters
4 Quarts
3.79 Liters
10 Quarts
9.46 Liters
20 Quarts
18.93 Liters
120 F / 48.9 C 2 days 2 2 2.5 3 4.5
110 F / 43.3 C 3 3 3.5 4 5 7
100 F / 37.8 C 5 5.5 6 7 9.5 13.5
90 F / 32.2 C 7 8 9 10.5 15 23
80 F / 26.7 C 9 10 11 13 19 29
70 F / 21.1 C 10 11 12 14 20.5 32
60 F / 15.6 C 10 11 12 14 21 32
50 F / 10.0 C 10 11 12 14.5 21 32

Recovering From Dehydration

The good news is you can lose as much as 10% of your body weight through dehydration and suffer no long term ill effects. Simply by drinking several quarts of water you will be restored in a very short time. However, a survivor who has lost this much water from his body will probably not be in a position to find water.

In cool temperatures, a loss of 25% of your body weight in water will probably be be the end. If the temperature is over 90 degrees farhanheight then you may not make it even at the 15% dehydration level.

Source:survivaltopics.com

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