Randall K. Packer, a professor of biology at George Washington University, explains.
It is impossible to give an answer to this seemingly simple question because many variable factors determine a person's survival time. Under the most extreme conditions, death can come rather quickly. For example, a child left in a hot car or an athlete exercising hard in hot weather can dehydrate, overheat and die in a period of a few hours. An adult in comfortable surroundings, in contrast, can survive for a week or more with no, or very limited, water intake.