How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

I’m just really sick of the Hollywood treatment of zombie tales. Not the zombies themselves, mind you, it is the survivor behaviour that is so terrible. I find myself screaming at the TV for stupid decisions they make. “What? You’re going to send 2 guys to take on 500 zombies because Bobby needs medicine from that hospital?”

So many zombie movies and post apocalyptic tales, and none of them really seem to show rational decisions by the survivors. Nor do any seem to realistically outline what American life will be like.  The best I’ve seen for realism of technology was the pseudo science show “The Colony” which showed how much tech a group of survivors can cobble together to improve their lives.

Let us think of likely scenarios and areas likely to have survivor bases.

  1. The military aren’t wussies, some bases will stay intact, these are Safe Zones and will have everything going for you as a survivor.   They will have radio so you may be able to hear from them on FM or AM bands.
  2. Fort Sumter, South Carolina is both an island and a stone walled fort. Both a safe refuge, and with enough land to grow crops. Most likely going to become a Safe Zone.
  3. The Navy is top dog during a Zombie Apocalypse. They have floating  Safe Zones called Warships. They have arms, discipline, tactical training and will be able to raid into coastal cities for food, water, and intel. They also have radio and a chain of command with other surviving institutions.
  4. Small islands will have police and weaponry to keep an Outbreak under control. So parts of the Florida Keys, the Virgin Islands, and many Caribbean Island states as well.  Forget Haiti, no matter what happens in the world, Haiti is always fucked. Never trust French colonies to endure, it is always the English colonies that survive.

Surviving the Apocalypse: Phase 1 – Live thru the Outbreak

Estimated time frame:  2-24 Months

First things first, the initial survival phase. In the event of an epidemic that is fatal and makes the infected want to eat your brains, you will want some basic things quickly. These are Maslowian needs, I believe:

  • Access to clean water
  • Access to reliable food
  • Protection
  • Mobility
  • Locate other survivors
  • Information

Water is a really, really important commodity. Americans don’t really appreciate this. However, after some time spent in east Africa, I realize how critical water is to civilization.  I passed thru villages where women walked 6 kilometers both ways to fetch their daily water. That is alot of time lost.   Any survivor will need a nearby secure source of water, at least for the first month while they get their bearings and come to grips that there is an apocalypse.

Food. Gotta have it. Survivors will consume canned food fairly quickly. Canned food is heavy, and the locations that will have lots of canned foods, will be also with a high density of zombies. Eventually, they will need to make it into the countryside to live off the land and ultimately begin life anew in an agrarian role.

Protection is broad term. This includes firearms and melee weapons to deal with zombies. It also includes a place to sleep in safety. Zombie herds will be the biggest problem.  Ammunition will be a scarce commodity, but Walmarts, sporting good stores, and military posts should have it in large volume. Of the choices, military posts will also have generators, and a nice perimeter that will keep the hoards at bay. The problem is all those zombies in uniform roaming the compound.

Mobility. Part of Protection is swift movement away from danger and to resources.  There should be no question here that a fuel efficient vehicle will be ideal. There may or may not be time to add a cowcatcher to push zombies out of the way without damaging the vehicle.

Survivors means manpower. Manpower is key to survival. Find survivors and you have a bigger force, more knowledge, more information, better reasoning. More guns.

Survival Plans for Phase 1

Note: When I say drive, that just means travel. In a real crisis the roads may be jammed, and a motorbike or bicycle will be the ideal form of travel.

Plan A:  Get to a Houseboat

Get to water, find a houseboat.  Houseboats can be out on the water and don’t need power. Many houseboats have generators or solar panels. Even a working shower! You can sleep safely there, use it as a base, add a simple mast and sail around a bit doing recon for how bad the world has gone to hell.  Food is easy – you fish.  Water is easy – you boil it.  Both require some shore leave to get supplies of fishing tackle, and wood for fires.  On the boat, you can put together your antenna, radio, and transmitter and be able to power it all.   Do be sure to test if  zombies can float out to you. No surprises allowed.

Once you have your boat, you need to do foraging trips to find survivors, and also resources to survive.

Be prepared for Plan B and pick out high ground with water and food that can hold you.

Plan B: Drive to a Walled Compound

You’ve already planned for the contingency if the boat sinks, or a rival survivor gang wants it and will kill for it.  Therefore, at your home marina you have a vehicle prepacked with a full tank of gas, 1 week of canned food, weapons, maps, rechargeable batteries,  a spare ham radio.  The target location can be many places, depending on your location:

  1. Farther upriver to a vacation house or a marina with other houseboats.
  2. A prison
  3. A military base
  4. A walled in retreat/school
  5. A remote mountain cabin

Part of the pro/con judgement call would be:

  • Is it defensible from a Zombie Herd?
  • Does it have solar panels? Generator?
  • Does it have a good sound roof and strong walls?
  • Is there protected space inside to grow crops?
  • Is there a gutter/water system that can be adapted to a cistern?
  • Is there a defensible perimeter from human raiders?

Plan C:  Drive to the mountains

Get to a low population zone in the mountains.  The ideal case is to find a valley or ridge that has 1 or 2 choke points and build zombie barricades to hold off the zombies. The valley is big enough to house the survivors and has the capacity to hold crops.

A note on weapons

So let us assume walking-dead type zombies. Here we want weapons that have high capacity, 9mm pistols, excellent sniper rifles. The problem is the noise, it draws the zombies. So think about melee weapons. Pikes and halberds are easy to make, keep the zombies at arms length, and are quiet.   The redneck from Walking Dead has it right, use crossbows, too.  Available and sporting good stores. Ammo is cheap.   Bolts are easily made, green sticks, some tree sap, and feathers for fletching.  Somewhere in there you should mix up your weaponry and add in a grand piano, Zombieland showed us how important it is to maintain morale. Zombie-Kill-Of-The-Week #239


Surviving the Apocalypse: Phase 2 – Permanent Safety during the Zombie Apocalypse

Estimated time frame:  2-24 Months

So you’ve survived this far. Great. Now what to do?  Well, hunker down and try to improve your quality of life. Learn new skills. Build a support network of friends. Get laid. Better yet, get hot water for showers.

To sum it up, here is the short list:

  • Food and Water Security
  • Social Re-establishment
  • Rebuilding Quality of Life
  • Find Survivors and get organized.

Food and Water security. By this time, you know you need to move to a walled compound.

Food – Plant victory gardens to survive winter and food shortages that are coming.  Crops need to be easy to preserve. Beans, corn, grains.  Wild game should be smoked or jerked to supply you with winter food.  Come to grips that your supply of chocolate is going to run out. On the bright side, Twilight is no longer a TV show.

Water – You’ll need to install giant cisterns to catch and hold rain water

Quality of life is another thing.  This would be getting hot water for showers, wind turbines putting out power, a generator adapted to wood gasification  (fairly easy to do – common in WWII Europe),  installing solar water heating  and building pot bellied stoves for winter.

By now, someone will have set up a ham radio and be broadcasting every day at noon for a few minutes on how to find your location.

Your survival crew will possibly have a mountain bike squad that goes around and bumps off the area zombies every week.  Sound is critical. Cars may be a bad idea, so an electric car may be a good choice. Be sure to bring solar panels.


Surviving the Apocalypse: Phase 3 – Restoration Of Quality of Life after the Zombie Apocalypse

Estimated time frame:  2-10 years

  • Establishing a government and social order
  • Preparing for the future

At some point, people get philosophical and realize that there are greater things in life than just survival. They want to rebuild society.

Likely the survivors will declare the Constitution is still the law of the land and impose civil order and punishment for those who want anarchy.  This gives a great sense of hope of returning to normalcy.

In the end, these 3 phases of Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse are as realistic as I can get. If anyone has better ideas, let me know.