Most of us take it for granted that the water from our taps is safe for consumption. However, when travelling, or out in the wild, it can be harder to tell whether water is safe to drink. Even in first world countries, tap water in certain areas isn’t always pure, and if you’re unsure, then it’s important to check before drinking it or using it to brush your teeth. Here are some ways to check whether water is safe for consumption.
If you know that the water is safe in your home, but you’re concerned about levels of chlorine, hardness, or the pH balance, then you can buy water purity tests to carry out yourself. These strips are simply dipped in water, and give you a general idea of how pure your water is. If you are concerned about the water in your home, then it’s also worth calling the local water board for advice. SERS provide analysis of water, and often advise water companies on the levels of chemicals, ensuring supply to homes is safe.
Tap water when travelling
The quality of tap water varies around the world. In certain countries, you are advised not to drink the tap water, but it may still be OK for washing. If you are travelling to an area where you can’t drink tap water you should:
- Ensure you drink sealed, bottled water
- Don’t have ice in your drinks
- Don’t buy fruit juice or sliced fruits from street vendors
- Avoid raw vegetables – they could have been rinsed in tap water
The level of caution will depend on the country that you visit. Make sure you do some research first, and use common sense. If you need to test tap water on the go, then you could take testing strips with you, but these don’t pick up on all kinds of pollutants.
Water in the wild
Those who enjoy camping and hiking will need to find a source of water when they’re out and about. Although you can carry a certain amount of bottled water, it’s not always practical to carry the amount needed for long trips. Some trails have springs with drinkable water, but again it’s important to err on the side of caution. Boiling water for three minutes is the best way to purify it, and water purification kits are also a good idea for those who’ll be travelling to out of the way areas.
There are many ways that water can become contaminated, and not all tap water is safe to drink. Things become even more complex when you’re out in the wild, and may not have access to drinkable water. However, there are many ways you can test water at home or on the go, and lots of ways you can make water safe to drink. Always find out about the safety of tap water when you go somewhere new, and ensure you have water purification kits on hand for when you go camping, so you can avoid illnesses caused by contaminated water.