If you are familiar with the symptoms if dehydration, you will be able to know immediately if you or your companions are not properly hydrated. Some common symptoms of dehydration include extreme thirst, food cravings, dizziness, muscle fatigue, cramps, headaches, nausea, irritability, reduced concentration, bad breath, dry skin and low urine output. Be sure to check the color of your urine. Dark-colored urine is a sure sign of dehydration. If you see this symptom, keep drinking fluids until your urine returns to a healthy light yellow color.
If you are hiking, bugging out, or doing any intense physical activity, you should drink small amounts of water frequently. Remind yourself to take a sip from your canteen by setting a timer to go off every 15 to 20 minutes. Pay close attention to how much water you're drinking. A good estimate would be to drink roughly eight ounces of water for every 15 minutes of activity. Follow this habit even when you don't feel thirsty. It is a far better alternative than chugging a liter of water in one sitting due to being parched.
It is important to balance your food intake with adequate fluid consumption to maintain healthy levels of both water and electrolytes. Keep a well-stocked bug-out bag packed with nutritious snacks, dried food and energy bars. You should also carry a portable canteen or water bottle filled with clean drinking water. These should both be on your person at all times, so you can have easy access to them as soon as you or your companions show the first signs of dehydration. You can also stock up on fruits and vegetables with a high water content, including cucumbers, tomatoes, grape fruits, star fruits, strawberries and baby carrots.
Your water supply shouldn't be limited to what you can carry at any given time. You should regularly refill your water supply from other sources when you have the chance. That way, you can minimize your risk of running out of water. You can also get water from lakes or ponds, as long as you boil, purify or filter it first, preferably all three. (Related: A survivalist’s guide to water: How to source it in the wild, how much you need, and how to prevent dehydration.)
Not all beverages will rehydrate you equally. Consuming alcohol and caffeinated beverages, such as tea and coffee, will only worsen your condition instead of rehydrating you. Alcohol may even impair your judgement, which is the last thing you need in a survival situation. Water is your best bet but if it is not available, then there are many other liquids you can take instead, such as non-dairy milk or broth. You can also take some sports drinks or energy drinks as long as they do not contain any added sugars.
Heat exposure and strenuous exercise can cause you to sweat profusely. While sweating can help cool your body down, it can also lead to a loss of body fluids. If possible, stay in the shade and conserve your energy. If you need to hike or engage in any intense manual labor, then do so during cooler weather or when the sun is no longer at peak strength. You should also make sure to wear clothing that can provide adequate protection from the sun.
As long as you follow these useful survival tips, you should be able to safely avoid dehydration when SHTF.