Dehydration Side Effects:
Your body needs water desperately. Here are just some of the symptoms based on the percentage of water loss in the body:
- 1-5%: Dizziness, Lack of Appetite, Nausea, Lethargy
- 6-10%: Headache, dizziness, tingling limbs, slurred speech, losing vision
- 11-12%: Swelling tongue, skin shriveling, darkening vision, deafness, inability to swallow, death.
Very often in novels and even real life, people in desert situations ration their water. Never, ever, ration water. In real life, people are sometimes found dead in the desert with a bottle full of water because they ration their water and die of heat stroke before the dehydration gets them. Instead, you are better off drinking what water you have in small sips over time. Not rationing, and not chugging.
- Solar Stills. Solar stills are a great way to get water. See how to do it here.
- Digging for water. Often in movies, characters are shown finding plants and digging for water. In truth, it’s not always that simple. Sometimes, the roots of plants reach very far down so you would have to dig for a very long time to find that water. Instead, set a limit on how far to try digging.
- Following Creatures. Even bees need water. I work at a bee farm, and if the weather gets too hot we have to put out water every day for them or they will die of thirst. If you see a beehive, there is a good chance there is a water source nearby. Follow a bee, and you might find it! The same goes for ants, or even grazing animals.
- Collecting rain.
- Splitting Cactus for Water. Many cacti are pretty starchy inside, and some of those that are full of water can make you very sick. Maybe don’t do this one.
- Stay in the shade; especially around noon when the sun is highest in the sky. The heat will only make you sweat off what water you have. Instead, find a shelter for during the day.
- Do not lay on the ground. The ground can hold heat, so instead put some layers between you and the ground.
- Don’t Smoke. Smoking dries out your mouth.
- Don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol can dehydrate you faster.
- Talk little. Talking can dry out your mouth.
- Caves. You are not the only one who likes easy shelters; beware of snakes and other creatures. Also, put the fire at the back of the cave. Putting a fire at the front will only blow wind in, making your cave into a smoker. Instead, put the fire at the back of the cave, and the smoke will go along the top of the roof and out the opening.
- A-Frame. A simple shelter with minimal supplies needed. Even better with a space/emergency blanket which can help reflect heat.
People very rarely mention this, but deserts can be brutally cold at night. Some deserts can go from being hot enough to cause heat stroke in the day, to having to worry about hypothermia at night.
Another issue could be seasonal cold. Even Alberta, Canada, has a dessert, and though it is what you would expect from a desert in the summer, in the winter they can get large amounts of snow.
Deserts are not necessarily only about heat; cold can be an issue too.
You can survive three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Keeping that in mind, you should also know that food takes water to digest. Eating when you don’t have water can dehydrate you faster, so if you do not have water you are better off not eating.