If the dead came alive, could you survive?

Follow these tips to help you find drinking water during a zombie outbreak or, perhaps, a more likely emergency.

October 26, 2018 | By: Kim Unger

Are you prepared for the zombie apocalypse?

OK, so the chances of a zombie attack are rather remote. But there are plenty of real threats out there, including fires, earthquakes and tornadoes, not to mention a slew of man-made disasters. We should be prepared.

And yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost half of Americans do not have an emergency plan. (The CDC offers a helpful guide to help you be a survivor.)

At Denver Water, we plan for what happens when emergencies threaten our water supply. Check out this helpful guide to help you find water within your home during any emergency — zombie or otherwise.

emergency water sources infographic

What happens after you find a water source?

That water needs to be safe to drink. Luckily, there are some things you can do to turn your scavenged water into drinking water:


Some water sources may have dirt or other contaminants. A rain barrel may have dirt or dried leaves from a nearby tree. Local streams or canals will certainly have dirt and other particulates.

Running that water through some kind of filter is one step to cleaner water. Coffee filters make a simple filter that can be easy to find at home. You can also build a filter, one that mimics our own water treatment process.


You may have heard of boil water advisories during pipe work or main breaks. Boiling water for 5-10 minutes kills any bacteria that may be growing.

If water sits too long, the disinfectant that keeps the water bacteria-free can begin to break down, creating an environment where bacteria can grow.


Distilling your water is a bit more labor and resource intensive, but it can be done. The process takes the steam from boiled water and condenses it back into liquid form.

What is removed in this process? Bacteria, metals, solids and minerals. (Note: Your body needs some of those minerals, so you can add an electrolyte powder to the distilled water.)


What about that bacteria? Chlorine is the disinfectant of choice to create an unstable environment for bacteria, keeping your water safe. Yep, it’s the same stuff used in pools or your municipal water source. Household bleach that is free of any scents or additives – and is not expired – is a great disinfectant in an emergency.

One-quarter teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water is a good ratio. Give it a good stir and let that sit for about 30 minutes before drinking. Looking to stock up your emergency kit? You can get calcium hypochlorite tabs or powder that will have a longer storage life.

Find it, clean it, collect it

Now that you’ve collected some water and cleaned it up, you need to store more than a day’s supply. Like one of our reservoirs, you have to store water for the future.

This is where your emergency preparedness comes in handy. Food-grade, dark colored containers that have been sanitized and not used for other purposes are the best options and you should have them on-hand before an emergency strikes.

Once filled, store them in a dark, cool place, such as a basement or garage, but keep them off the concrete. You can also use those thick plastic gallon-sized containers (a certain iced tea brand comes to mind) in the short term. Just make sure you clean them first.

Also, if the water tastes stale, don’t worry, it just means the oxygen levels have decreased. Simply shake your water bottle before drinking to add some oxygen back in.

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