Hollywood has made a lot of zombie movies, even end-of-the-world TV shows that depict the apocalypse. The problem is, most of them don’t address the most important problem that would occur during an actual world-changing event.
Should a significant portion of the population be rendered unable to function normally (perhaps through death or zombie-fication), the world’s infrastructure will begin to break down. Zombie and apocalypse movies show various Internet problems, trouble with the electrical grid…complete loss of traffic control and air travel. All of these things are likely true, but none of these problems are as troubling as the one that will begin to effect all survivors very quickly: water.
When the infrastructure breaks down, systems that provide clean running water will also break down. Pumping stations in metropolitan areas often have backup generators that will keep the power running in the event of a blackout or power failure. However, those generators will stop running once there is no more gasoline left. Water will continue to run through pipes for a few days, a week or two at the very most.
When the water infrastructure shuts down, things get pretty messy pretty quickly. Sewer systems will stop working. Toilets will be unable to flush, because they are no longer being supplied with fresh water. Reservoirs at treatment plants will eventually go dry, and pipes will no longer have any water to collect when faucets are opened.
The world is still full of natural sources of water. Rivers, lakes and creeks of all kinds will still be packed with fresh water. However, it’s unsafe to ingest this water or bathe in it because it may contain harmful bacteria that’s invisible to the naked eye. Treatment centers exist because natural water is not usually fit to drink. There are still some sources of water during any apocalyptic event. Those who have the skills to find it will be the ones who survive.
A World Without Water
Human beings need about a gallon of water per day to survive with any degree of comfort and good health. You need this much fresh water for drinking and cleaning purposes – and this is during times of cool weather and low activity. If you’re very active or if the weather is hot, you’ll need more than one gallon per person. So the first thing you should think about during any zombie apocalypse or end-of-the-world event is clean water.
Wells and natural springs will provide a consistent source of fresh drinking and bathing water. Unfortunately, these sources aren’t always easy to find. Look for wells at farmsteads and in other rural areas. Natural springs are most common in rocky regions.
If you find a source of river or lake water, don’t drink it! Boil all water (and allow it to cool) before it is used. Even running river water should be brought to a full boil before it is used or consumed in any way; this is the easiest way to kill the bacteria that may living inside. Do not drink or bathe in rain water, which is exposed to pollutants before it ever reaches you.
In suburban areas it will be much harder to find sources of clean water … unless you start going into homes. Inside every home there is a water heater that holds (most commonly) between 30 and 50 gallons of water. Some water heaters may already be emptied by the occupants of the house, but many homes are likely to be abandoned and some of them should still have full water heaters.
The Truth About Water
Store water with you during any apocalyptic event, and take it with you wherever you go. Many zombie movies feature problems concerning weaponry, food and housing, but the human body cannot survive without regular water intake. You will die within one week if you consume no water at all. Find moisture however you can. Fruits, canned foods and freezer ice can all be sources of water in desperate situations.