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How to Stay Alive

In the Woods
Visit the Roo Camp Store
Single Parent Camping
Alternative Lifestyle
Missing School
camping with kids
Tips for camping with babies
Tips for camping with toddlers
Tips for camping with Pre-schoolers
Tips for 6 - 8 year olds
Tips for camping with 9 - 12 year olds
Tips for camping with teens
Tips for Parents
Babies first Trip
Healthy Dogs
Family Reunions
Hiking with Kids
Drinking Water
Avoiding campground theft
Holiday Camping
Seasonal Camping
Camp Bathrooming
First Aid
Water Safety
Altitude Camping
Campground Pollution
Drinking Water
When you are in the great outdoors - you need to drink a lot of water to stay healthy (at least one gallon per day for every person in your party). The only question, "Is the water safe to drink?".

The kind of water that is available to you depends on the type of camping you are doing. If you are camping in a campground with a water source provided your needs will differ from a backpacking family who cannot carry all of the water needed for their trip.

For information on water from a natural source
such as rivers and streams click here.

For information on water provided by recreation
facilities click here.

Backcountry Water Sources

Generally, your water source is a stream, a lake, or a spring.
The water may tase wonderfully clear - but beware! There may be nasty things lurking in your next drink!

Protozoa and larger parasites, bacteria, and viruses all can be found in backcountry water sources. If you drink 'em without treating the water first you may get quite ill. I could describe some symptoms but I don't want to gross anybody out :-)

So how do we get rid of these 'water hazards'? There are several different ways that are quite effective.

  1. Boil your water.
    • This is the only free water treatment you'll find - but the water tastes a bit funny afterwards.
      • The water must boil for at least five minutes.

  2. Chemical Purification - adding bleach or iodine to your water.
    • This is a lightweight solution - but is a bit more complicated than boiling.
      • Add 2-3 drops of bleach to each quart of clear water - 4-6 drops for clowdy water OR
      • Add 3-5 drops of iodine to each quart of water - 10 drops for clowdy water (not for people who use thyroid medication).
      • MOST IMPORTANT: Water must sit after
        adding chemicals. Warm water
        (75 degrees F or 25 degrees C) must sit at least 20 minutes. Cold water should be allowed to sit overnight.

  3. Filtration
    • If you camp a great deal a filter might be right for you.
      • Water filters produce the best tasting water.
      • Only water filters can remove pollutants from water.
      • Water filters can be used at home in an emergency situation (we have one that lives in our earthquake kit when we aren't camping).
      • Water filters do require spare filters - so stock up!
      • Filtration devices are the most expensive alternative.
      • Water filters can be a bit bulky to carry.
Whatever method you choose - please be careful - and have fun!

Recreation Facility Water Sources

Your favorite campground has running water; maybe even showers. Is that all you need to know? I don't think so.

Many recreation facilites offer water that is not potable. This is water for washing, showering, and toilets that is not fit for human consumption. These water sources are usually well marked with warnings that the water is not for drinking - but please use care!

Potable water is considered safe for drinking - but does that mean you want to drink it?

Camp-A-Roo has some experience in park maintinence and campground water systems - and I would use care when choosing the water you drink.

Many parks treat their water with the same kind of chlorine you would use in your pool. This kind of treatment is not an exact science. Parks that have their own water system are required to test the water on a regular basis. The testing is simple - but it is also quite easy to fowl it up (us park employees are not rocket scientists) and poor testing creates meaningless results. Also - if the water tests happen to fail (show nasty things growing in the water)the day after you visit - you may get an unpleasant surprise.

I was housed in barraks on site at one park job I held. There were warnings in the kitchen and bathroom reccomending that employees not drink the water. Bottled water was provided by my employer. When I asked about it - I was told that the water was ok to drink on a short term basis but you shouldn't consume it over a long period of time. The water was considered safe enough for campers but not safe for employees?

I would not reccomend drinking water anyplace where you are unsure of its purity. Some recreation areas have natural springs or wells with incredibly good water (Walnut Canyon National Monument has excellent water. Enjoy the water where you can - and bring your own everyplace else.

On our last camping trip we brought large five gallon water bottles and had no trouble finding water vending machines. You can purchase a nice pump that screws right onto a five gallon water bottle for easy access - some are even battery operated!

Have a safe and happy camping trip!

Trail of the Roo
Camping Store