Zombie Survival

There's no more room in Hell. The dead walk the earth. Do you have what it takes to survive?

When the zombies do attack, be prepared to go through the above stages of grief as you learn to cope.  But you should probably do it fast.

Just The Facts

  1. The zombies are going to attack. It's been scientifically proven.
  2. Max Brooks wrote The Zombie Survival Guide in 2003. It is currently the best selling book ever published on the subject.
  3. It is rumored that the US military has a clear plan to counter the threat of a zombie outbreak.
  4. It is also rumored that the US military had a clear plan when they invaded Iraq.

Introduction, or Dead Alive!

Now you've done it. You just had to open up that barrel of Trioxin, didn't you? Or maybe you decided to release that poor little monkey from the disease research laboratory. Maybe you just read the wrong passage from the Necronomicon. Bottom line: you fucked up, and you fucked up big time. Now the zombies are coming, and if you haven't got a plan then you might as well just lie down and let those maggot-filled pus-sacks take you right now. Surviving the zombie apocalypse is serious business, and the only way you're going to do it is if you're prepared. Here are the basic steps you'll need to follow to make sure that you don't end up as an undead appetizer.

Step 1: Night of the Living Dead, or Oh, Crap The Zombies Are Coming!

There's really no way to predict where you'll be or what you'll be doing when the zombies attack. Maybe you'll be relaxing at home, after working a long shift at the hospital.
You could be laying flowers on your mother's grave in a rural cemetery.
You might be dancing naked on top of a mausoleum to entertain your friends.
Or maybe you'll be out getting drunk, trying to forget that your girlfriend just dumped you because she's tired of going to the Winchester every night.
The undead could strike at any time, and when it happens you'll need to act quickly and decisively. In order to do that, it's absolutely critical that you recognize a zombie outbreak for what it is. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can begin putting your plan into action. For a helpful list of ways to spot the early stages of a potential outbreak, see Cracked's 6 Signs You're About to be Attacked by Zombies. Once you're sure that you are indeed facing a zombie attack, you'll need two things right off the bat: a gun and a safe place to hide. It doesn't matter what order you get them in, it just matters that you get them both as early on as possible.
Gun: Surviving the zombie apocalypse without a gun is like eating soup with a fork. It's not easy, it makes a mess, and there's going to be a lot of extra juice left over. As a general rule, guns are easier to find in the South. If you live in the South but you don't have one in the house, rest assured that one of your neighbors has more than enough extra guns to go around. Just go over and ask to borrow one. Note: he might already be a zombie by the time you get there. In this case, it's okay to take one without asking. After all, his bumper sticker says "They can have my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers." Just try not to let him bite you while you're prying away.
This one seems defective.
If you live in a Northeastern suburb, then you'll have a much harder time finding one. Larger department stores and sporting goods shops are a good place to try. In addition to having guns and ammo, they will also have other useful supplies like backpacks, canteens, and Funyuns. Trying to loot a gun store is not recommended, since the owner will probably have barricaded himself on the roof with a sniper rifle and a pair of binoculars for a rousing game of Whack-a-Celebrity-Lookalike. In fact, don't go near that store at all.
Safe Hiding Place: This doesn't need to be permanent. This is just your temporary hideout, a place where you can assess the situation without getting eaten by the hordes of the living dead. It should be sturdy, it should provide concealment, and it should offer a relatively clear view of your surroundings. The goal here is to get your bearings, rest, and then plan your next step.
If you're in the countryside, an isolated farmhouse or cabin should do the trick. Now, I know what you're thinking. Isolated is bad. But initially, you'll have no way of knowing who is or isn't infected, or even how the infection is spread. The farther away from any other potential zombies you are, the better. Then, once you learn the nature of the infection, you can try to make contact with other survivors. At this stage, the smartest thing to do is barricade yourself in, find a radio or TV, listen for updates, and drink nothing but alcohol. You know, in case the zombie virus is in the water or something. You can't be too careful.
If you're in the suburbs or the city, then you have a bigger problem on your hands. You are surrounded by tens of thousands, maybe even millions, of potential zombies. Finding a good hiding place without somebody else also finding it will be impossible. This means that you'll probably have to share your hideout, and who you decide to share it with will have an enormous impact on your chances of survival. You can't risk letting in too many people this early on. If one of them turns out to be infected, you aren't organized enough to contain them yet. As a result, you'll have to be selective. You need to make sure you only open the door to people who seem reliable, honest, and willing to pull their weight. The problem is that when somebody does show up, you won't know anything about them. You're just going to have to look them in the eye and decide whether or not to trust them.
No, I said look her in the EYE.

Step 2: Dawn of the Dead, or Hooray! I'm Alive! Now What?

Congratulations! You've made it this far without being eaten alive or, worse, turned into a flesh hungry abomination from beyond the grave. With luck, the local radio and TV broadcasts have put some information out on rescue stations, survival tips, and how to avoid becoming infected. If it's safe to start drinking the water again, I highly recommend doing so. A state of relative sobriety will only help you from here on out.
If you're still holed up in a rural farm house, listen for the sounds of gunfire in the distance. This will be the local posse of hunters and recreational shooters coming to the rescue. If you hear this sound, rejoice. You have been saved! Just like at the end of the original Night of the Living Dead, when the friendly rednecks saved Ben! At this point, there's nothing left for you to do except grab your favorite rifle and join your rescuers in the time-honored American tradition of mob violence.
For those of you trapped in more densely populated areas, there's still plenty of work to do. By now, you should know whether or not any of the people that you're sharing your hideout with are infected. If any of them are, then they need to be dealt with. They will die, they will rise, and they will try to eat you. At a minimum, these people need to be quarantined.
The next thing you need to think about is identifying and contacting other groups of survivors. Once again, at this stage you will need to use some caution. Most zombie survival plains fall apart simply because too many idiots are allowed to join an otherwise competent group of survivors. All it takes is one guy who's too much of a dumbass to follow simple instructions, and you're all toast. Feel free to play humanitarian later on. Right now, you need to focus on keeping yourself alive. The best way to do that is to exercise a healthy level of discretion when selecting other survivors to team up with.
There are sure to be several other pockets of surviving humans in your immediate area. Once you identify them and make contact, you'll need to cross dangerous, zombie-infested territory to link up with them. If you're going to take that risk, which of these two groups do you think would be more likely to help you stay alive: a couple of SWAT team officers who are hiding in a nearby shopping mall with their friend the helicopter pilot; or a crew of lovable British misfits trapped in a local pub, one of whom is a borderline retarded fat guy that keeps giving away their location?
Or maybe you can have the best of both worlds.
Before trying to get to them, you should try to communicate somehow. Exactly how you pull this off will depend heavily on where you are and what you have available. If contact is made, try to figure out how many people they have in their group, and what kinds of skills they have. Some of the most useful people to have around:
Nurses/Doctors/EMTs: One of the most important skills to have available to you will be medicine. And I'm sorry, but your first aid merit badge from your days as a Boy Scout won't cut it. Do everything in your power to find at least one person with some type of serious medical training. You'll need someone who can dress and clean wounds, recognize and treat infection, and make you and your fellow survivors laugh out loud with their zany antics.
No, laughter is NOT the best medicine. Don't you have any fucking antibiotics!?
Carpenters/General Contractors: These people will be able to help you fortify your location. Did you ever notice how in every zombie movie ever made, the zombies always get through the shoddily boarded-up windows? If you have somebody in your group that understands the principles of structural integrity and the relative strengths of different building materials, that probably won't happen to you.
Mechanics: Sooner or later, you're going to need vehicles. They're useful for both transportation and as mobile barricades. A mechanic will be able to identify what vehicles can be salvaged from the thousands of abandoned cars you run across, and he'll be able to keep them running.
Military/Ex-military: Generally speaking, military personnel are known for their discipline, their inventiveness, and their ability to adapt. In the Army and the Marine Corps, even non-combat troops receive training in weapons handling, marksmanship, and basic combat tactics. Those skills will be invaluable to you and the rest of your fellow survivors. As such, finding someone with military experience should be one of your top priorities.
But not this guy.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, here are some people to avoid:
"Lone Wolf" types: A certain degree of self reliance is a good thing. What you need to avoid are the people who absolutely refuse to follow somebody else's plan, no matter what. Even if a plan makes perfect sense, these are the assholes that will cop an attitude and say something like "I don't take orders from nobody." Preserving their macho image actually means more to them than not being eaten by zombies. My advice? Just shoot them now. You will save yourself a lot of trouble later on.
Gamers: I'm not passing judgment on anybody. In our everyday, non-zombie filled lives, gamers are just fine. It's a free country, and they don't hurt anybody. But when you're battling for your life against thousands of rotting ghouls, you may want to think twice about including a gamer in your group. Each of the thousands upon thousands of hours they've spent mastering the game of their choice, be it Warcraft, HALO, or Dungeons & Dragons, is an hour they didn't spend learning to do something in the real world. This leaves the average hardcore gamer with a skill set that tops out somewhere between "heating up Hot Pockets in the microwave" and "yelling at n00bs on the internet."
Men wearing anything made out of human skin: I really shouldn't have to explain this.
Pictured: something much, much worse than zombies.

Step 3: Day of the Dead, or Most of You Aren't Going to Make it This Far

Once you've assembled your group of survivors, you'll need to discuss your next destination. If the military and/or government are still telling people to report to the various rescue stations, many of your fellow survivors will want to go there. Try to talk them out of this. Think about it: everyone in a 300 mile radius will be heading there. Everyone. And you just know that at least one dumb shit is going to try to smuggle an infected family member in with them. Yes, I know the broadcasts tell people specifically that they need to leave their infected loved ones behind. That doesn't matter. It's mathematically impossible to get every single person in a group that size to follow instructions. There's always somebody that either thinks they know better, doesn't want to listen, or "doesn't take orders from nobody." Whatever the reason, this asshole will get the entire rescue station killed. If you still have people in your group hell-bent on going there, ask them to explain to you how millions of people moving in the same direction towards a single location is in any way dissimilar to ringing a 300 mile long dinner bell.

If they still aren't convinced, just let them leave. With any luck, they'll draw some of the zombies away from you.
The rest of you will need to figure out where you'll be able to sustain yourselves for a long period of time. Shopping malls are the obvious choice, but these should be avoided. Yes, they have lots of supplies inside. You know what else they have a lot of? Entrances. There's just too many ways for zombies and hostile groups of people to get in. They'll be a good place to raid for supplies, but staying there will mean certain death. Plus, the city's power grid will shut down sooner or later. Once that happens, you won't be watching Star Wars on ten flat screen TVs at once anymore. No, instead you'll be sitting in the dark with no ventilation or air conditioning, sweating your nuts off and wondering how to cook a bag of popcorn without a microwave.
When deciding where to go, you should consider the following:
Number of ways in or out: You'll need to have more than one so you don't trap yourself. But too many of them will be too difficult to cover. Even after they're locked and barricaded, they'll need constant attention. The main ones will need to be watched by an armed guard, while all of the others will need to be at least checked several times per day. Figure out how many you can comfortably handle based on the size of your group.
Observation/Vantage point: You'll need to find a place that lets you see any potential threat coming a long way off. The farther away it is when you see it, the more time you'll have to react to it.
Availability of water/food: How accessible are the nearest stores? If you decide to get away from the city, can you grow your own food? Is there a natural water source that can be used, or will you need to catch rain water? And can you really live with becoming a hippie, even in the face of the zombie apocalypse?
Climate/Temperature: Will you be able to keep the inside of your new hideout warm enough to stay alive? If not, is there at least an equal enough male/female ratio so that nobody gets stuck sharing a sleeping bag with another dude to keep warm?
Emergency escape route: You'll all need to get out quickly when some dumbass lets the zombies in. This isn't a matter of if. It's a matter of when.
Availability of vehicles/gasoline: When you go out raiding for supplies, you're going to need to do it by truck. How close are the nearest gas stations/ car dealerships?
Once you select the best possible place to go, you'll need to make your way there as quickly and safely as possible. Roadways might be blocked, so be prepared to move on foot. Make sure you conserve as much energy as you can, because there's going to be a lot to do when you get there.
As soon as you arrive, you need to clear out any zombies and secure all of the exits. Unless there are some experienced military personnel or police officers in your group, there's an excellent chance that this will get about half of you killed. In this case, make sure you put all of the nonessential people up front. In fact, this is a great opportunity for that HALO expert to put all of his grueling hours of combat experience against the Covenant to good use.
He is so dead.
No matter what kind of building you've decided to take over, you need to expose your best medical experts to the lowest amount of danger possible. This is a variation of the first and oldest rule of warfare: "Whatever you do, don't kill the medic." Leave them in the first "safe" room that you find, while the rest of you clear out the remaining zombies. If the medic does somehow get hurt, the rest of you should all try really, really hard not to. This is a variation on the second rule of warfare: "It's okay to kill the medic, provided that you kill only the medic."
Once the building is safe, make sure that nobody has been bitten or injured. Then have anyone who isn't hurt begin barricading all of the doors and windows on the first floor. Work in shifts if you have to, but don't stop until it's done.

Step 4: Evening of the Dead, or Oh, Crap! The Bikers Are Coming!

Once the building is as zombie-proof as you can make it, you're free to set it up however you want to. However, I highly suggest including some kind of a reinforced quarantine room. It'll give you the ability to contain anyone who might potentially be infected, including any new refugees you take in. See? I told you that there'd be a chance to play humanitarian.

The next thing to do is set up a guard schedule. Somebody needs to be awake and watching your entrances at all times. This is the single most important job in the entire place. Remember a while back, when I talked about that guy who doesn't take orders, or the guy that's too much of a dumbass to follow simple instructions? Whatever you do, don't give him this fucking job! That guy was born for the sole purpose of being trusted with a very important job, and then failing at it. Every single zombie movie you have ever seen involves some guy fucking up and letting the zombies in. Hopefully, you listened to me back in Step 2, and you killed him already. If you didn't, it's still not too late.

The second most important job is going to be your observers. They need to be placed in the highest positions available: a rooftop, a high window, a tower, anything that gives them a clear view of the surrounding area. The people you select for this job should be your best shots. You want people that can consistently make headshots at a distance. They're mostly up there just to keep an eye on things, but when the zombies show up they're also going to be your first line of defense.

Your observers will also need to be on the lookout for more than just zombies. The violent biker gangs should be attacking your hideout any time now. At the very least, these guys want to kill you and take all of your stuff. You'll need to think about different ways to defend yourself against them. Unlike the zombies, these guys can think and reason. Fortunately, they can also feel pain and fear. Use this fact to your advantage, and cover the exterior of your building with pictures of Rosie O'Donnell. Anything that isn't a rotten corpse should stay far away.

Next, you will need to organize raiding parties. A reliable truck will be absolutely essential. Figure out where the nearest stores are. Food, water, and ammo, and will need to be your top priorities, since you'll be using them up the fastest. You'll also need building materials for keeping your barricades sturdy, and spare parts for your vehicles, so hit some lumber yards and garages, too. And don't leave out hospitals and pharmacies. Now that you're essentially living the life of a third world refugee, you'll need to pay much closer attention to even minor diseases and injuries. After surviving this long against the zombie hordes, you sort of owe it to yourself not to die of an ingrown toenail.

While your raiding parties are out gathering supplies, you should also have them scout potential locations for you to move to. Then if you need to abandon your current hideout for any reason, you'll already have a backup plan. If they can do it without too much risk, have them clear out the zombies and secure the exits. They can begin stockpiling emergency supplies there as well. Plan a detailed route from your current hideout to the new one, and hide caches of essential supplies along the way. Your caches will help you get there in one piece, if you have to move out in a hurry.

Conclusion, or The Return of the Living Dead

Your entire life is now going to revolve around raiding the surrounding areas for supplies, defending your hideout from the undead, and occasionally getting into violent skirmishes with biker gangs. But if you've made it this far, you and your fellow survivors should be more than up to the task. And, besides, it beats your old day job at Hot Topic.

It's possible that the government will eventually be able to reestablish control over the infested areas. Zombies will be rounded up, order will be restored, and people will be able to return to their normal, everyday lives. And since recycling is the responsible thing to do, the zombies may even be put to work in the community doing manual labor.
However, this doesn't mean that you should ever let your guard down. The undead could strike again at any time. And if there's one thing I've learned by watching zombie movies, it's that the sequel always has a higher body count.