So you took the plunge and installed the proper water filtration system at your home, school or office and feel confident that you now have safe, clean drinking water available at all times. Good for you!
One question, though…. What will you do on your next vacation overseas? You can’t take your home water filtration system with you, ya’ know!
“The World Health Organization (WHO) attributes 80% of all travel diseases to contaminated drinking water. Don’t let contaminated drinking water spoil your trip. Avoid tap water and ice cubes anytime the water quality is uncertain – even bottled water can be questionable, when available. According to WHO, almost half of all travellers suffer from some form of diarrhoea while en-route.” (source)
For those not very good at math, that last statement means scientists have concluded that most of the sudden illnesses people came down with while away from home resulted from their having consumed contaminated drinking water in the form of ice cubes, bottled water and/or water from the tap.
“Huh? Contaminated tap water? I thought tap water was supposed to be safe…” — A common misconception in countries outside the United States and other Western nations. While the water in those places may undergo filtration and purification, the quality of the finished product may still not measure up to the quality of the water coming from your tap back home and thus may cause you to get sick.
Some other things to consider while making food and beverage choices while away from home…
“When travelling to many countries, special precautions should be taken to avoid sickness from micro organisms in food and especially water. Many countries still fertilise with human excrement, making it important to follow a few tips to avoid getting sick.” (source)
OK, so what can you do to avoid potentially contaminated drinking water while away from home on vacation? The following tips will help:
- Order your drinks without ice unless you know the water used to make the ice came from a safe source.
- Drink only industrially bottled beverages. Bottles or cans which arrive already ‘open’ may have become contaminated since their time of manufacturing.
- Order your food well-cooked. While tempting to order some foods (steak as an example) rare because of personal preference, avoiding raw or slightly cooked foods, seafood, mayonnaise, ice cream, butter, etc. will help to keep you safe.
- Avoid eating food from street vendors. You have no way of knowing how hygienic the food preparation process, cooking process and/or equipment cleaning process is.
- Only eat fruits, raw vegetables, or salads if you know the water used to clean and rinse them came from a trusted source. Keep in mind, though, that you do have the option of thoroughly rinsing them yourself with disinfected water if available.
- Avoid raw milk. Pasteurized milk is safe to drink because it has undergone a heating process which kills of harmful bacteria.
- Fruit juices with high sugar content create a prefect environment for bacteria to grow. One should only drink fruit juices from (factory) sealed containers or from properly cleaned and sanitized blenders.
- As a general rule, fresh hot coffee and tea typically will contain no harmful bacteria because of the heating process used to prepare them. Beer and wine usually also contain no threats but do keep in mind that improperly cleaned glasses, mugs and steins can still make you sick. Also, alcoholic beverages will not kill off bacteria already in the stomach — meaning you cannot use an alcoholic beverage as a safety tool while eating/drinking other items which may contain harmful bacteria.
- Brush your teeth with water from a trusted source such as bottled water, etc. Even a single drop of contaminated water may contain enough harmful bacteria to make a person very ill.
- Use only water from a trusted source when taking medications as. A single drop of contaminated watrer may contain more than enough bacteria to make a person sick and Always use
- One should never bathe or rinse off with ‘random’ surface water.
- Wash your hands on a regular basis and especially after using the bathroom, handling items handled by other members of the general public, etc. Furthermore, just like when home, wash hands thoroughly before eating or handling food.
- When drying off after a shower or swimming session, always use freshly washed towels.
Interested in learning about portable drinking water filtration units you can use while on-the-go, away from home, in the woods, out in the wild, or pretty much anywhere other than home? Take a look at the Katadyn water filtration & purification devices on this water quality filters web site.