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Water purification: Most Effective Way to Sanitize Drinking Water in Africa

Water purification tablets for military in 1940s
Water purification tablets for military in 1940s

Water purification: Most Effective Way to Sanitize Drinking Water in Africa

In underdeveloped countries, obtaining safe drinking water remains a problem. Due to poor sanitation in many African counties, human feces land in rivers, streams and even shallow pits. The water becomes contaminated with water-borne deceased like cholera, bilharzia or typhoid fever. Tourists often find themselves contracting water born deceases while touring through Africa because they neglected to take the necessary precautions related to water purification for their drinking water. Symptoms of deceases caused by polluted water can be a mild as diarrhea for a day or two, to life threatening fevers, dehydration and ultimately death.

Contracting any of the water borne deceases while on tour in Africa can be life threatening as medical help may be far away or inadequate. Bottled water bought in underdeveloped countries should be treated as suspect, as locals often re-fill the labeled bottles with water from rivers, streams and shallow pits in order to supplement their income. Tourists must make sure the seal is still intact and the expiry date had not yet passed, before consuming any bottled water bought in these countries.

Use Water Purification Tablets to Avoid Diarrhea

The easiest way to ensure safe drinking water while touring in Africa is to use water purification tablets. Several brands of water purification tablets are available and most claim to both rid the water of the most common decease-causing bacteria and improve the taste of the water.

Travelers should consider the following when choosing water purification tablets:

  • The tablets should be able to eliminates Giardia, bacteria, viruses, removes sediment.
  • Ensure the tablets contain a combination of flocculation and coagulation agents, which promote rapid formation of sediment in treated water.
  • Buy tablets with proven results like ones used by military and rescue organizations world-wide.
  • Water purification tablets take anything from 15 – 45 minutes to sanitize one liter of water. After using the tablets, the sediments must be filtered through a cloth until the water runs clear.
  • Always use the same side of the cloth to catch the sediment and discard the sediment after each purification.

Boil Water to Kill Bacteria Before Drinking While on Safari in Africa

Boiling water remains the most effective and safe way to sanitize drinking water. In the wild, however, tourists may not have fuel available to facilitate the boiling process. Experts differ on how long water must be boiled to kill the bacteria inside. The answers range from ten minutes to half an hour.

According to the OA Guide to Water Purification water temperatures above 160° F (70° C) will kill all pathogens within 30 minutes while water temperatures above 185° (85° C) will do so in minutes. Thus by the time the water reaches boiling point, most bacteria causing intestinal deceases will be destroyed. To be safe, especially at high altitudes, the water should be boiled for one minute. Thus it is unnecessary to boil water for extended periods in order to sanitize it, as this process will only waste precious fuel.

Using Water Filters to Sanitize Infected Drinking Water

Portable water filtration systems are expensive, often bulky and often fail to sanitize water as well as remove murkiness. Although many off-road tourists invest in these filters and use them to great success, the average tourist to Africa’s more remote parts will not have these systems available.

Using of the Water filters is another method for water purification
Using of the Water filters is another method for water purification

Most outdoor and camping shops sell portable water filters and tourists can order them over the internet as well.When selecting a portable water filter, make sure the filter cleans all the harmful bacteria and parasites from the water.

Other methods commonly used to make water safe for drinking is by adding a small amount of bleach to the water and although this might kill some of the harmful bacteria, some may still lurk in the murkiness of the water.

Touring in Africa is fun, exiting and enlightening for most overseas and local travelers. Taking along the essential equipment and using common sense, will ensure a safe and happy journey.

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