Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Terrain Training Tuesday: The Desert Part 2

Water is vital in desert conditions.  If you have any ration it immediately and pretend to others that you don’t have any.  This is survival people.  Sometimes you just have to lie to stay alive.  Having said that, if you have heaps of water, make sure you drink regularly to stay cool and decrease sweating.  Lack of the required amount of water causes a rapid decline in an individual's ability to make decisions and to perform tasks efficiently.  Use your discretion.

A key factor in desert survival is understanding the relationship between physical activity, air temperature, and water consumption. Your body's normal temperature is 36.9 degrees C. Your body cools off by sweating. The warmer your body becomes--whether caused by work, exercise, or air temperature--the more you sweat. The more you sweat, the more moisture you lose. Sweating is the principal cause of water loss. If a person stops sweating during periods of high air temperature and heavy work or exercise, he will quickly develop heat stroke.

There are a couple of things to remember:
  • Find shade and stay out of the sun
  • Place something between you and the hot ground.
  • Limit your movements, probably best not to move too much in the heat of the day
  • Conserve your sweat. Wear your complete outfit. Roll the sleeves down, cover your head, and protect your neck with a scarf. These steps will protect your body from hot-blowing winds and the direct rays of the sun. Your clothing will absorb your sweat, keeping it against your skin so that you gain its full cooling effect.
  • Talk only when necessary.
  • If water is scarce, don’t eat. Food requires water for digestion; therefore, eating food will use water that you need for cooling.
  • Drink mostly in the cool of the evening and then only in small sips, don’t gulp it down.
However even these measures will only work in the short term.  You have to find a source for water.  But really, the question on everyone’s lips is ‘Do I have to drink my own urine?’  (By the way the technical word for this is Urophagia)


There are two schools of thought on this. John “Lofty” Wiseman says to NEVER drink your own urine straight.  Only drink it if distilled.  This is backed by the US Army Field Guide, who also say NO. This is because drinking urine tends to worsen, rather than relieve dehydration due to the salts in it, and that urine should not be consumed in a survival situation, even when there is no other fluid available.

However Bear Grylls is a fan of the drink your urine approach, in fact you can pee on your clothes and store it for later even.  And if Bear Grylls says it how can it be wrong?  (He has blog too by the way find it here).  And Aron Ralston, the dude from 127 hours who cut off his hand (I still haven’t brought myself to watch the film yet), drank his urine when he was trapped to survive.

Would you take the advice of this man?

So as with all the huge philosophical questions, you must seek out the truth yourself and take the path that feels right to you.  But if you’re about to die, I mean really... What harm can it do?  I say drink it!

What say you?



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