A retired Navy SEAL explains how to find water in an arid desert

In this excerpt from  100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition, retired Navy SEAL Clint Emerson explains how to find water in an arid desert.
Your best hedge against dehydration in an arid environment?

Never get lost in a desert without an adequate water supply. But if you do find yourself low on H2O, take every possible precaution in order to conserve your body’s remaining levels of hydration as you seek out new sources of water.

Conserve Your Body’s Current Water Level: Stay covered when moving during the daytime. When the wind blows over your sweat-dampened clothing, you’ll benefit from a cooling effect.

Better yet, follow desert protocol of resting during the day and travelling at night, so that you’re expending energy at times when you’re less likely to sweat and release valuable fluid (see page 000). If you are completely out of water, do not eat. Digestion will quickly use up your remaining resources of internal hydration, and you can go much longer without food than you can without water. 

Ascend to High Ground: When land formations allow, ascend to high ground before you shelter for the day. As you plot the course that seems most likely to result in rescue, look for clues that potential water sources might be near. From above, track vegetation and animals. Down at ground level, swarms of insects are a hopeful indicator. Seek out signs of life — all life requires water. 

Dig Below ground: Dry riverbeds may yield hidden reserves of hydration in the form of damp sand. If you find nothing after digging at least a foot down, try a few more spots. Even a riverbed that has long been dry might be harboring moisture from a recent rain. 

Collect Dew: As a last-ditch effort, sacrifice part of a night’s movement to lay out clothes and collect the night and morning’s dew. Using a similar technique in drought-stricken regions, researches have been able to collect as much as half a quart of dew from a single square meter. 

Republished with permission from 100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Surviving in the Wild and Being Prepared for Any Disaster by Clint Emerson. Copyright © 2016 by Escape the Wolf, LLC. Reprinted by arrangement with Touchstone. All rights reserved.

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