Dassa Ben-Ami: This is my first interview with another survivor, Kesha McDermott. She found me trying to break into a Nuka-Cola machine and showed me a different way. So Kesha... can you tell us a bit about how we can make sure our water is safe for drinking? Try to keep it to the basics for training purposes.
Kesha McDermott: It's not complicated, really. Find water and strain out any big particles and chunks. Then boil it in a pot over an open fire for a minute or two, then let it cool. Should be fine. Like making tea, right?
Dassa Ben-Ami: You joined the Responders a while ago and helped develop a program to train volunteers. So, were you a survivalist prior to all of this?
Kesha McDermott: You could say that. I taught high school kids! I used to talk about this very thing to them - practical application of the sciences. It's fascinating, but... you never realize how important some things will be down the road, do you?
Dassa Ben-Ami: I guess not. So, if we were students of yours, what would you tell us about the world now? How can we survive?
Kesha McDermott: That's a good question, Dassa. I would tell you all first of all, to remain calm and focus on surviving. The first thing you need to do is get yourself some clean drinking water. It's likely all you'll find is dirty water, but that's ok! We can fix it. Dirty water carries a small chance of disease and is a bit radioactive. You'll probably survive if you drink it, but you shouldn't take that risk. It's better than toxic water or nuclear waste though, which are both very harmful and should be boiled thoroughly first. Got that, Dassa?
Dassa Ben-Ami: Yes'm - contaminated waters should be boiled. Ok. That sounds easy enough. So boiled water is safe?
Kesha McDermott: It's mostly safe, but still a bit radioactive. What you really want is purified water.
Dassa Ben-Ami: Ohh, purified water. How do I get that?
Kesha McDermott: You can build machines that will do it for you, and that's the most reliable way. Building them requires some space and time, and plenty of materials. But on my way up here from Watoga, I found purified water occasionally in supply caches and medical kits. So keep your eyes peeled.
Dassa Ben-Ami: If I boil water and that's mostly safe - aside from a teensy bit of radiation - what about tea? Most folks around here are tea drinkers, as you know. I recall many a night sipping tea on the stoop, watching lightning bugs and reading a book in peace and quiet. Tell me that's still ok, Kesha?
Kesha McDermott: Oh, bless your heart. It's probably as good as boiled water, anyway! Maybe even better if you add anything medicinal to it. Some survivors add all sorts of flowers and herbs to boiled water, and they swear by it. Personally, I stick with purified water. To each their own!
Dassa Ben-Ami: Switching tracks a bit, I know you're awfully busy with your latest research in Flatwoods. Can you explain that a bit?
Kesha McDermott: Of course! I'm testing local, natural water over time in Appalachia. Gathering data, monitoring the radiation and contamination levels, all of that. I analyze the data in my lab to look for long term trends, and use those trends to determine how we can use the water right now. We use the water for more than just drinking, you know. It feeds our plants which feed our animals... so we need to know how things are changing.
Dassa Ben-Ami: You've got a lot of work cut out for you. I'm glad you joined the Responders -- that data sounds invaluable!
Kesha McDermott: It is! I've integrated the data collection and research into the Responders Survivors Volunteer Program as well. I am still a teacher, after all.
Dassa Ben-Ami: Wow, and there you have it, folks. Thanks for talking with us today, Kesha. And thanks for showing us all how to live a little safer.
Kesha McDermott: Mhmm. Class dismissed!