In Neal Shusterman’s Dry, one of the major health issues brought about by the extreme drought—or the “Tap-Out”—is the lack of clean water for disinfection purposes. Before running into Alyssa and the others, Jacqui had been looking for water to clean the wound on her arm with—which was growing worse and worse. Luckily for her, Kelton offers to give Jacqui clean water and antibiotics in exchange for a ride home.
Another health issue is the ailing condition of the residents in Dove Canyon, the subdivision where Uncle Basil lives. When Alyssa and her group go to visit her Uncle Basil, they quickly find that he and many others are infected with dysentery. Brought to desperation, the residents of Dove Canyon consumed stagnant water from a water storage tank which had been left untouched for a long period of time. Uncle Basil’s girlfriend, Daphne, does not survive the disease.
Finally, severe dehydration almost brings Alyssa and her whole group to death. Having consumed no water for days, the group experienced symptoms such as parched throat, fatigue, and extreme irritability. In one of the chapters, Kelton explains that one’s final moments bring about a burst of energy, as it is the body’s last attempt at life. Each one of the main characters experiences this burst of energy in the final sections of the novel, as they desperately search for water in the wilderness. Fortunately, a firefighter chopper rains water down on them at the most crucial moment.