Friday, April 1, 2011

Disaster Prep: The Zombie Apocalypse

It's 7:06 in the morning, and you're awakened suddenly from your sleep. You roll over to hit the snooze button on your alarm clock, but you realize it's not suppose to go off for another 24 minutes. What's that noise?! Jumping out of bed you head over to the window and look outside. CHAOS! Across the street from you is an overturned ambulance with it's siren till running! There are fires all around the block, and no law enforcement or fire trucks in sight! Out of the corner of your eye you see the neighbours little girl covered in blood hunched over the mailman on the ground biting and clawing at his body. You just bought scout cookies from her yesterday! What's going on!? How did this happen!?!!!


This is the nightmare hundreds of people face each year, and millions more fear. Contrary to popular belief, zombies are in fact real and do plague humanity, mostly in developing nations around the world. The key to management is swift action when dealing with an uprising. Only in that way has been possible thus far to keep any epidemics from spreading to worldwide pandemics.

So how do you prepare for something that seemingly cannot be killed? Knowledge and preparation!

1: Identification

What kind of zombie are you dealing with?
In his book The Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks identifies the virus Solanum as key culprit in zombie transformation. In the time since the publication of the guide there has been significant advances in our knowledge of zombism. In fact we have now identified two distinct types of zombies.

The solanum zombie, slow moving and dangerous in numbers due to their persistence. This is the classic view of the zombie which has inspired mythology through human culture.

The rabid zombie, fast moving, capable of sprinting and easily attracted to loud noises and bright lights. As the name suggest, these zombies are created by a mutation of the rabies virus. Due to it's more recent appearance, debated still rages regarding whether this mutation is natural or is the result of an attempt to weaponize the virus.

2. What makes them different from each other?

In either case, none of the infected are actually "dead". Their bodies still perform basic metabolic activities, however all cognitive functions of the brain have ceased. What made them human is gone, and what remains is a body left in auto-drive.

Due to the differing nature of the infection, tactics for dealing with the infected differ slightly.

The solanum zombie
will have a slower metabolism and so can endure for much longer between feedings than the rabies zombie before shutting down. Consequently it can actually remain under water for quite some time as it's body uses oxygen at a slower rate. These zombies are slow moving and lumbering, so the real danger here comes from their persistence and large numbers.

Rabid zombies are different in that they have fast metabolisms and are known to sprint and chase down their victims. These zombies are voracious killers and need a constant supply of food to fuel their high metabolisms. Encountering even one of these infected can be more than most people are prepared for.

3. How do I deal with them?

When dealing with the zombie plague there is only one option. Destroy them. While the brain my no longer be capable of cognition, it is still the command center for the rest of the body. It is the primary target on any infected individual.

Effective methods of inducing trauma include firearms, blunt force and decapitation.

If you can find something heavy and can lift it, then start swinging.

If you can remove it's head, do so.

If you have a gun, shoot it.

A direct shot to the head is clearly the best option, however many things can affect the accuracy of your shot. Panic, adrenaline, lack of skill all contribute to a missed shot to the head (a relatively small target). Better instead to incapacitate the infected and finish with a melee weapon. A powerful shot to the chest will cause cell walls to rupture as the shock-wave passes through surrounded tissue, muscle fibres tear and neurons will stop firing. With the heart liquefied, and muscles none existent, the infected will attempt to pursue in vain, only to be physically incapable
of doing so. If you have the chance, finish it with a melee. Otherwise, keep running.

Your diligence will pay off in spades. Many a survivor has allowed themselves to become compliant and paid for it with their life.

4. Gear
Preparation is everything. Those who are not prepared will depend on law enforcement or military support. When the disaster hits, these resources will be stretched too thin to help all but the fortunate few.

I offer my own preparations to you as a guide, and possibly an insight into creating your own stockpile.

Get one here

A tactical mask with goggles is the only way to go. Protect the face from splatter damage and reduce the risk of contamination.

Upper Garment
Who is best prepared to deal with the constant threat of physical harm? Firefighters? Law enforcement? The military? IMHO I must reject all answers except for one. Batman. No one else faces the constant threat of violence, and so it makes the most sense to adopt the armour mean to protect vital areas. Remember that during the apocalypse, threats will reveal themselves to you as both the infected AND survivors. Fortunately for us, this armour is available on the civilian market.

Lower Garment
More armoured clothing, light weight being an important factor as you will be carrying the weight as you travel.
Trekking long distances is a very real possibility in the zombie apocalypse as fuel for vehicles will be at a premium. My choice are the rugged Asolos that have reliably served me.

Tactical Accessories
Fixed blade and tactical gloves.

Primary Weapon
The Marlin 1895SBL is chambered for .45-70 rounds. This round has the stopping power to take down a charging Grizzly bear, and will be sufficient for a charging zombie.

Many people will have you believe that the best choice as a primary is the AR-15 rifle, due to the availability of the 5.56x45mm NATO round, which will be carried by law enforcement and military squads. This point is mute, as you should already be stocking enough ammunition for a 15 year war.

Secondary Weapon
Dan Wesson PPC .357 magnum. You're looking for stopping power here. As with above, you'll hear many people recommend the 9mm, since it will be available. Don't compromise! Go for the round that will leave a hole where flesh used to be, and you won't be disappointed. Stock up your own ammo or learn to reload yourself.

Melee Weapon
Most people will have you believe that a blunt force trauma instrument is the best bet against hordes of infected, citing "sticking" of blades as the primary reason to avoid them. I will tell you that this is a fallacy, and only the untrained will face this problem.

Sticking occurs when the surrounding muscle tissue puts inward pressure on the face of the blade, causing it to refuse to let go during a piecing or thrusting attack. Very often a survivor will find themselves embedding their melee machete or knife in cranial area of an infected only to be unable to remove it in time to defend against an onslaught of the horde.

This can be avoided by instead targeting behind the neck and severing the the spinal column, rather than attacking the cranium. This immediately shuts down the signals coming from the brain and allows for quick removal of the blade.

My choice of melee is the ESEE Junglas large survival knife/lite machete. If it can do this to a hog, then I'll wager my life on it during the outbreak.

Inventory (non-combat)
  • Pack
  • Headlamp
  • Lighter - Bics might be more reliable, but nothing tops the class of a Zippo
  • Gasoline - To power generators, fuel vehicles, and manufacture Molotov cocktails as improvised weapons.
  • Optics - To increase field of vision.
  • Water filter - To provide fresh water.
  • MRE Food rations -Enough to hold over until suitable agriculture programs can be implemented.

Once again...Batman.
The Tumbler is an armoured vehicle capable manuevering through city streets to quickly grab resources, capable of quick bursts of speed and yet robust enough to plow through hordes of infected or abandoned vehicles as needed.

A good base provides fortifications against the infected as well as means to support a growing populace of survivors. Movies have shown the folly of choosing grocery stores or shopping centers as strongholds. While initially a wise choice, after and extended siege from the infected, you will soon find yourself running low on resources. Indeed a better base provides both resources and means for self reliance.

It also needs to defense against both attacks from the infected, as well as invading marauders intent on ousting you and stealing your supplies.

To that end, a fortress with a guarded perimeter with access to fresh water and ample area to grow crops provides the ideal setting. However, an exit strategy is a requirement in the event that the outer defenses are breached and the inner walls begin to fall.

5. Never let your guard down Don't let times of peacefulness lull you into a passive state. Remember, it is those that prepare that will make it through times of hardship. When it comes to an enemy that never sleeps, never stops, and grows exponentially, we cannot afford to give an inch of leniency.

Happy First of April everyone!


  1. Knives don't need reloading.

  2. How would any civilian be able to get their hands on an armoured vehicle? Have you spared a thought to what you'd do if it broke down?

  3. Great website. Great article. Thanks.
    Couldn't disagree more regarding your choice of firearms, though. As Zombies can only be put down by destroying their brain (or taking their head off), the complex matter of "stopping power" is rendered down to "shot placement". Therefore, I'd prefer high-capacity. I.e. 9mm and 22lr (G17, CZ-P09, Marlin lever action .22 rifles, Ruger 10/22, Browning SA-22, Kel-Tec Sub-20000 ...)

    BTW: is a there a quick/simple way to fill out these Zombie-Sheets, or do I actually have to measure the size of each field and then resize my images accordingly?