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How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

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Maybe you’re avoiding doing laundry. Maybe you have a final you don’t want to study for. Maybe you don’t want to go to the gym. Whatever real-life scenario you’re ignoring in favor of reading this piece about an unlikely armageddon, we respect your decision. You could be reading an article about how to optimize your 401k, but you chose to tackle how to survive the zombie apocalypse instead. We salute you.

What are zombies?

Before we make a plan for how to defeat these guys it’s important to know a few facts about them. So here’s a quick zombie FAQ.

Zombie Math

Zombie Math by manikx

  1. Where are they from?
    Legends of zombies exist across many cultures. Some believe they rose from the dead looking for revenge, some think they’re sinister tricksters, some think they’re human shells perfect for slave labor, and some think they’re mothers who died during childbirth. The specifics differ from society to society, but the idea of the soulless dead becoming reanimated is fairly ubiquitous.
  2. What are they after?
    The general consensus around our modern understanding of zombies is that they want to consume living human flesh. Many believe that the undead have a particular penchant for brains, but they’ll happily dig into your abdominal cavity too.
  3. How do you become a zombie?
    There are different theories about how this could occur, from nuclear radiation, to voodoo, to neurotoxins like tetrodotoxin, but the prevailing school of thought is that you’ll become a zombie after being bitten by one or after coming into contact with their fluids (eew). When this occurs, you’ll become a host to the zombie virus and it’s only a matter of time before you are taken over by it entirely.
  4. What are the symptoms of being infected by the zombie virus?
    Essentially, you lose your individual consciousness, begin to rot, and develop an insatiable appetite for human flesh. You lose your memories, your attachments, and your ability to feel.
  5. Is there a cure?
    Overall, people don’t believe that zombies can go back to who they were before they became zombies. They can be brought from undead to dead which will stop them from becoming a threat to the living, but they can’t regain their previous personhood. Sorry ‘bout it.
  6. How can they be stopped?
    In order to stop a zombie, you must inflict severe head trauma, decapitate them, incinerate them, or blow them up. Other wounds that would kill a living human (e.g., chest wounds, limb loss, etc.) could at most only slow them down.

How to Prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse

Let’s start by setting some realistic expectations. Most of you will not survive the apocalypse unless you’re willing to make some drastic lifestyle changes well before disaster strikes. Know how hard it is to convince yourself to eat healthily, save money, and put on sunscreen in order to help future-you? You’ll have to do way more than that to better your chances of surviving the rising of the dead.

Gluten Free Zombie by Schlogger

Considering how difficult survival is, perhaps you should ask yourself: is becoming a zombie worth avoiding? Here’s a quiz that will help you decide.

Answer yes or no to the following questions:

  1. An all meat diet sounds nice to me.
  2. Fresh, youthful skin is not a priority in my life (unless I’m eating it).
  3. Procuring and mastering military-grade weaponry sounds like a hassle.
  4. I’d rather spend my time taking a slow stroll than constructing an expensive and impenetrable bunker in the woods.
  5. Getting dressed in the morning gives me anxiety and I’d be more comfortable wearing the same outfit day after day until it falls off my body.
  6. Showering bums me out.
  7. I don’t like doing taxes, paying my credit card bills, maintaining my social media platforms, having a job, and/or going to school.
  8. Offing an innocent human being and scooping out their brains sounds like a reasonable option when I’m hungry.

If you answered mostly “yes,” you might actually like being a zombie TBH. If you answered mostly no, keep reading.

Zombie Lives Matter! by Randyotter

Zombie strengths and weaknesses

As Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Zombies are your enemy, and knowing both their strengths and weaknesses is critical to developing an effective survival strategy.

Zombie Strengths

  1. Persistence: Living humans like to give up on stuff a lot. We fear failure, we’re insecure, and we’re lazy. Unfortunately, persistence in the face of obstacles isn’t always our strong suit.Zombies, on the other hand, are 100% motivational poster material. They NEVER give up. You can chop off their limbs, make them climb mountains, tell them they write lame tweets, and they’re completely unfazed.
  2. Limb-not-needing-ness: Sure, you might complain about the texture of your elbows or the circumference of your thighs, but at the end of the day you’re actually pretty attached to your body and you’d like it to stay in one piece. This can really slow us down. Zombies can take shortcuts through flames, broken glass, and gunfire. Advantage: zombies.
  3. Speed (maybe): Recently, in contrast to previous stereotypes, some people have begun to argue that zombies are actually pretty fast. That would be a real kick in the pants so let’s hope those people are wrong.
  4. Hordes: If there were only a few of these guys it wouldn’t be a big deal. Unfortunately, because zombie-ness is likely viral, its spread is rapid and exponential. You won’t be confronting one of these monsters at a time; you’ll be dealing with thousands, millions, or even billions of them. It’s a lot.
  5. Creepiness: Not only are zombies scary because of their interest in slurping out our intestines, they also just look creepy. Vacant eyes, bloodstained teeth, lurching gait, and missing skin understandably freak us out.
    Unfortunately, our rational decision making suffers when we’re terrified out of our $%*#*!& minds. On zombie doomsday, this isn’t great. When these rotting weirdos start stumbling towards us, if we’re scared we’ll likely struggle to come up with the best course of action. Throw water on them? Tell them jokes? Cry excessively? Yikes.
  6. No need for self care: Humans are really needy. We need water, sleep, food, and decent temperatures. Under normal circumstances it’s not always easy. After society collapses and Postmates stops functioning, it becomes significantly tougher.Zombies don’t need to worry about any of that. They can pursue you for days without rest or resources. Maybe it’s that keto diet they’re on.

Zombie Sloth

Zombie Sloth by rickystiles

Zombie Weaknesses

  1. Slow (maybe): While there’s debate about this, the prevailing school of thought is still that zombies are mad slow. A brisk walk will get you in the clear. A jog will leave them miles behind. Treat yourself to a scooter and you’ll be out of the danger zone in no time.
  2. Communication: To say that zombies have a limited vocabulary would be generous. They mainly moan and death rattle. This makes it unlikely that they’ll come together and develop complex plans for how to eat humans. You can strategize, form alliances, and potentially contact allies in other locations. They can really only lurch, bite, and grab.
  3. Skincare: Seriously, it’s like they don’t even try. Thankfully, their lacking beauty regimen works in your favor. It’s pretty easy to tell who the zombies are because their skin is total garbage. They’re easy to spot from a mile away (just like their giant pores, amirite?) so you can flee before they get close.
  4. Stupidity: Zombies aren’t exactly Mensa material. They’re not really not clever. If you, a human, stick your hand in fire you’ll probably try not to do it again a second time. Zombies aren’t even that smart; they can’t learn, speak, write, plan, or remember. Chances are you can do at least some of these things.

Now that we know more about who we’re dealing with, we can move on to the strategy phase.

Have a plan

If you want to survive armageddon, you’ve got to start planning far before armageddon. And that plan is going to involve an incredible amount of time, money, energy, and thought. You’re going to have to really commit to it.

Undead hordes are unlikely to show up, which makes spending time on this currently non-existent threat feel pretty iffy. The opportunity cost is bonkers.

But you should at least know how to survive the zombie apocalypse, just in case.

Zombie Proof Your Home

  1. Board up and bar your windows: Your neighbors might raise an eyebrow now, but when they’re getting their spleens extracted by a necrotic loon you can bet they’ll be screaming, “oh if only I had given up on aesthetically pleasing window treatments like Darren!”
  2. Keep caches of weapons in every room: Start stockpiling cleavers, bats, bricks, sticks, crowbars, flamethrowers and grenades now. Having them in every room is better than having them in one central location because zombies won’t wait politely for you to get to your stash.
  3. Dig a tunnel: You won’t be able to stay in your house forever as you run out of resources and the hordes grow too crushingly big. Dig yourself a well-hidden escape tunnel that will bring you a decent distance away from your home. Chances are, the zombies will futz around your place for a while before realizing you’re not in there which should give you time to get away.

Zombie Weapons

Zombie Weapons by puppaluppa

Create a Survival Kit

  1. Ensure access to clean water: Humans can survive for only a few days without water. During a zombie apocalypse, infrastructure will quickly break down and many aspects of our society will entirely collapse. Like clean water.
    In addition to having several bottles of water in your survival pack, you should bring water purification tablets and a pot that will allow you to boil found water so you can eliminate potential contaminants.
  2. Food resources: As we said above, relying on our current institutions to ensure our survival during doomsday isn’t the way to go. Your local grocery store will not be functioning and you’re going to have to be more self-reliant when you want snacks.
    Pack some high calorie bars, hunting materials, foraging guides, and fire starters so you can cook what you find in the wild.
  3. Shelter/warmth: Zombies are made from people. Lots of people live in cities. That means urban environments will not be your friend in a post-apocalyptic scenario.
    While the sparse population density will be in your favor if you take to the wild, you will have to worry about creating shelter and warmth. A compact mylar space blanket and bivvy could both help you survive harsh conditions.
  4. First aid: A well-stocked first aid kit is a must. Sterile bandages, alcohol, sutures, aspirin, and antibiotics could all make a substantial difference.
  5. Tools: For those of us who can’t even put together Ikea furniture, it’s a gross and terrible reality that being handy could keep you alive. RIP.
    A multi-purpose tool, a small shovel, a hatchet, duct tape, large plastic bags, a bandana, paracord, and a tarp can all help you handle the unexpected.
  6. Gold: Gold might retain some value in a post cash/credit world, so keeping some with you couldn’t hurt if you need to bargain with other survivors.

Coordinate with others

  1. Establish your clique: Not only is survival less fun when you’re doing it alone, having a group is also practical. When you sleep you’ll need someone to keep watch. If you’re ambushed by a brain-eating mob you’ll need backup. Other people can help forage, erect shelter, and handle medical emergencies. It’s a good call.
    Just make sure the people you include are a liiiiittle slower than you are (sorry).
  2. Decide on a rendez-vous spot: There’s a good chance your phone will stop working. Figure out your Z.A.M.P. (zombie apocalypse meeting point) now while you can still group text.
  3. Divvy up responsibilities: It’s tough to handle all this on your own. It requires an intimidating number of resources and skills. Assembling a group of people with diverse talents and assigning them different parts of the survival plan (e.g., “Marge, you learn to operate the flamethrower, Terrence, you learn how to field dress a wound, TJ, you learn to make bread out of toadstools,” etc.) will take some of the pressure off. After all, you’re only human. (For now).

In Conclusion

Considering the fact that zombies don’t exist, the apocalypse is fairly unlikely. Yet there are countless books, movies, and TV shows concerned with this unrealistic catastrophe. What is it about zombies that’s so fascinating to us?

Our interest in other horror creatures make sense. In pop culture, vampires are frequently depicted as attractive, affluent, and semi-immortal. Witches can whip up potions and spells to help us overcome life’s injustices: they can make the old young, the poor rich, and the lonely loved. Werewolves have mystery and magnetism. All of these evil characters are powerful and complicated and there’s at least piece of us that would secretly like to join their ranks.

Conversely, zombies are hideous, soulless, and relatively feeble when not en masse. Our fear of them isn’t mixed with attraction. A zombie apocalypse would terrifyingly render its victims into decaying corpses mercilessly erased of their individuality. Death does the same thing. Are we really afraid of a zombie apocalypse or is our fascination with it our way of dealing with our existential fear of death itself? The worst things about becoming a zombie await us all regardless of any apocalypse.

Bet that laundry you were avoiding doesn’t sound so scary now.

Good luck!

What’s your zombie apocalypse survival plan? Share below!

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