For four seasons, fans of AMC's The Walking Dead have watched Rick, Daryl, Carol, and their not-so-merry band of survivors fight for their lives in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. While the show's first season was about finding a safe haven, and ideally a cure for the infection that has transformed so many of the group's loved ones into flesh-eating beings, the current season sees them settling into the Kübler-Ross model's final stage of grief: acceptance. Take away all the zombies and what you've got with The Walking Dead is a story of survival. If you stop to analyze some of the key tactics the group has employed over the past 45 episodes, you might just learn a thing or two on the off chance you need to survive in the woods (or the even further off chance you come face-to-face with a reanimated corpse). Which is why we asked the Boulder Outdoor Survival School's program director Steve Dessinger and director of program development Laurel Holding to weigh in on the lessons we've learned – and the likelihood of enduring – on The Walking Dead.
Water ranks just below oxygen in the list of elements that are essential to human life. When their home consisted of an outdoor camp in season one, boiling water was a regular on-camera survivor chore. And it's hard to erase the image of a walker being fished out of a well in season two (only to end up with his lower torso dropping back into the water). Yet not a lot of attention has been paid to where, in fact, the survivors are finding clean water–or whether they're drinking it at all. "All water should be treated for biological contamination if possible," says Dessinger. "Bringing the water to a rolling boil is the most effective way to treat it." The best way to determine whether a water supply is clean in the first place? "I would be suspicious of a persistent body of water (a pond, not a new rain puddle) that was devoid of life," says Dessinger. "If there are not insect larva or algae in the water, it may be toxic. Mosquito larva in your water is good – just think of it as extra protein."