Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,
The current situation for many communities devastated by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria is tragically ironic.
Taps have run dry… Store shelves have been emptied… Aid cannot come fast enough…
And all the while people are surrounded by water they cannot drink.
The circumstances are growing more dire by the day. But no matter how desperate people become, drinking floodwater is NOT an option.
Today, we’ll discuss why you can’t drink floodwater, plus a few solutions you can implement if you absolutely have to — including a critical piece of gear you must own.
Let’s get started…
The Water’s Not Fine
There are several issues with floodwater that make it undrinkable. The primary offender is raw sewage. As the sewage system becomes overwhelmed, waste enters the floodwaters, bringing all kinds of diseases and bacteria with it.
Another danger comes from chemical contamination. Gas from flooded tanks and ruptured fuel lines, household chemicals, pesticides and mining or construction chemicals from damaged plants can all find their way into floodwaters.
Any of these contaminants would be enough to make you sick, but the combination is downright deadly. Drinking floodwater directly or eating anything that’s been tainted by it can cause diarrheal disease. This in conjunction with the general scarcity of drinkable water means severe dehydration is inevitable.
It’s also extremely dangerous if an open wound is exposed to floodwater. Try to avoid contact completely if at all possible. Otherwise, cover any cuts, scrapes or rashes with waterproof bandages and be sure to clean them well and often.
Can Floodwater Be Treated?
If the diseases inherent to ingesting sewage were the only problem, heat or chemical purification would be sufficient. This would effectively kill the harmful bacteria that cause these diseases — bacteria such as Vibrio cholerae, which causes cholera, and Salmonella typhi, which causes typhoid fever.
Unfortunately, neither heat nor chemical treatments will make floodwaters safe to drink because the man-made chemicals in these waters will become more deadly if treated with heat or more chemicals.
Heating the water causes evaporation, which will increase the ratio of contaminants to water, making each sip even more dangerous. Worse yet, mixing chemicals like bleach with your water may create unexpected chemical reactions that further pollute the water you’re trying to purify.
(Bleach is a good option for freshwater sources that may contain bacteria or viruses. However, when dealing with potential chemical threats, it doesn’t make sense to add more chemicals.)
There Are Some Solutions…
One option is to create a still — an apparatus used to distill water by first heating and then cooling it and collecting the condensed vapor. There are many types of stills, from underground stills that extract the moisture from the soil and air to stovetop stills that capture the vapor from boiling water.
Obviously, an underground still simply isn’t going to work in a flooded environment. A stovetop still may work, however.
Simply place a coffee mug (or something similar to catch the condensed, drinkable water) inside a pot of contaminated water. Turn the lid for the pot upside down and bring the water to a heavy steam or light boil. The water will evaporate and condense on the lid. The condensation will then run down the curvature of the lid and drip into the cup in the center of the pot.
Keep in mind: There may be some chemicals in the water that have a similar boiling point to water that will remain in your clean water even when using this method.
Propanol, for example, has a boiling temperature of 207 F, just short of water’s boiling point at 212 F. To avoid this, you can simply take the extra step of bringing the water to a boil before placing the inverted lid on the pot.
While this method will clean the water, it’s not ideal. It assumes you have some way to heat the water. This means a working stove, a pot with a lid and a mug. It is also a very slow method for purifying water.
I’ll Drink to That
The best solution is to have a great water filter — like the SurvFilter. Most high-quality water filters will take care of bacteria, viruses and chemicals. The SurvFilter is a nanotech filter that filters out 99.99% of viruses and chemicals. It also works on the spot. No need to wait for water to boil or naturally evaporate.
Even today, nearly three weeks after Hurricane Irma, many residents of Florida are still under a boil water notice. You can check FloridaHealth.gov for details on your particular area.
Citizens in Puerto Rico are much worse off — they lack the means and the materials to boil water — and many people are opting to collect water from natural springs and hoping for the best.
This is when a SurvFilter could literally be a lifesaver. It’s a valuable piece of survival gear you need to own. Click here to get one for your family now.