The World Health Organization recently reported that about half of all travelers suffer from diarrhea while on their travels. The same organization links contaminated drinking water to 80% of travel diseases. This means that travelers, like campers and hikers must take extra precautions, especially with drinking water.
The common microbes in backcountry drinking water include giardia and cryptosporidia that cause chronic diarrhea and vomiting. In wilderness areas of North America, giardia has been found in 90% of these waters. The bottom line therefore is that these waters are not safe to drink. There are however available methods of treating water to avoid sickness like boiling, iodine treatment, bleaching or simply with reliable water purifier.
If you are a light backpacker, it will be inconvenient for you to bring boiling equipment. Treating water with iodine, purification tablets and chlorine bleach will leave a chemical taste in the treated water. A portable water purifier is a reliable partner and kills most water microbes. It is better than iodine, purification tablets and chlorine bleach since it does not leave unpleasant taste in the water.
When on travel, make sure you only drink industrially bottled beverages. It is always possible that open or unsealed bottles are filled from a contaminated source. For your safety, do not drink untreated water especially from backcountry water sources. A hand sanitizer will help disinfect your hands especially if water source is limited. Prepare your food, either fruits or vegetables using treated water only. In the same way use treated water for personal hygiene use.
In preparing your food, make sure that you wash cooking utensils including fruits and vegetables properly. As a common hygiene practice, you should wash your hands first before touching food for cooking or before eating. It is recommended that you wash fruits and vegetables first before packing them in clean containers prior to the trip. If possible, plan meals that do not require perishable ingredients such as fresh meat and chicken. This is to avoid spoilage and possible food poisoning. Canned and dried foods are safer if you plan to camp for several days.
It is vital for campers and backpacker to prioritize safety at all times. In order to avoid getting sick, follow proper sanitation practices. It will be advantageous to bring few pieces of clean towels to dry your hands after washing. Be responsible enough to dispose your waste properly in favor of other campers and the environment.