ZOMB-O-CALYPSE! A guide to surviving the undead!

Did you know that zombies have become the monster of the 21st century? 

The rotting, bloody, dismembered undead have wormed their way back into our hearts, inspiring both terror and some serious excitement. Well, at least the gamers are excited! Statistically speaking, there is nothing impossible in the universe. So the question becomes, how long will you survive in zombieland? 

A University of Ottawa professor is planning to answer this question in a book of formulations called the “Mathematical Modelling of Zombies“. Whilst survival is probably the most crucial calculation, this book promises to be a real cracker. 

Lucky for you, I’ve decided that I like the human race after all and I’m going help you beat the math.

Now let’s for one second assume that you’re not a paranoid shut in, with a basement full of rations, weapons and medical supplies. If you are, then great! Surviving the living dead has just become a heck of lot easier! But for the normal light dwelling humanoids there are a couple of steps you should know. For the record you really don’t want to be alone for any of this, yet the same rules apply regardless. Maintaining a small group of maximum 5 people will give you mobility and some extra hands when you need them. Last thing, this guide is only meant to inspire your creativity. By all means, use as much of it as you can should the dead start rising, just remember to think of your own situation at every junction. 

Step 1: Survival

The infection is going to spread, fast. One second nothing and then all of a sudden it’s going to be breaking down your door and trying to eat your brains. Nice image, right? So Step 1 is SURVIVAL. Yes that sounds obvious but hear me out first. When news has started to spread of the dead rising, people are going to do what they inevitably do best, PANIC. This is probably the most dangerous time of the zombocalypse. You can’t tell the difference between friends and enemies, and the whole world has dropped or is dropping into the dark ages. You need to focus on surviving the first wave of the infected. 


Save all the water you can, use every bottle, container and bucket you can find and fill them to the brim with tap water. Remember, you can live without food for up to 70 days but without water you won’t last more than 3. 

Next you need to make a melee weapon of some sort, something with medium to long range. A spear is the perfect way to go, all you need is some duct tape, a kitchen knife and anything you can use as a shaft (e.g. chair leg). Add a counterbalance for weight and blunt striking. 

Save all the food you have and move it to the safest room, make sure to keep it all in backpacks (no plastic shopping bags or anything with wheels – you need quick and quiet). Your safe room will be the one with the least exposure to the outside, a clear entrance, an emergency exit and also be easily barricaded. A room on the second floor should work well, so long as you can escape out the window/through the door should the need arise. 

Barricade all doors and windows, make sure that windows are completely covered. You need to be isolated. Listen to whatever news broadcasts and stay informed of the situation for as long as possible. Do NOT head to refugee camps! They’re like a petri-dish for the infected. Your only job during the infection wave is to be quiet, hunker down and survive.

Step 2: Recon

Characterise your zombie

If you’re like me, you can think on the fly. Assess the situation, and react. Instinctively. On the other hand you may need to consider your options carefully and that’s what this step is all about. Accurately assessing the situation. 

  • How much food have you got? 
  • How much water is left? (Drink the open containers first) 
  • How long will you be able to hold up? 
  • What am I dealing with?
  • What is the situation outside? 

The outcome of these questions determines when you need to start scouting. Make sure you have enough remaining supplies for at least 2-3 days before you start to recon. There may be an opportunity to move safely and you don’t want to have to forage for supplies on the move. Not being able to get to return to your hideout is also a real possibility so make sure you leave a bag of supplies where you can grab them on the run.  

There are a couple things you need to consider before doing your recon. The first thing is protection. You need to protect your body however you can; remember even the smallest scratch could turn you into a walking corpse. Start by finding cardboard/magazines or any kind of hard flexible material, using some duct tape create gauntlets and greaves that protect your forearms and calves. Robust pillows and blankets will also work at a pinch. You’ll also need to protect your neck and collarbone. A thick jacket should help with this; keep in mind that you need to be agile. Make sure no material covers and impairs movement of your joints (namely knees, elbows and shoulders). Also make sure to wear high ankle hiking boots as these will prevent strains and also deter any crawlers. Strap an emergency bottle of water to your thigh, grab your spear and you’re ready to go.

Now for the tricky part. Going outside.

You need to be cautious, stay hidden and be quiet. You need to find out what attracts the zombies and therefore what you can use to distract them. Pick a target zombie and test all of their senses namely: sight, sound, smell, touch (reactivity to light/dark, cold/warm environments), taste. The last one might be a little pointless! Isolate your target zombie and test its senses however you see fit, throwing stones and standing upwind. You also need to gauge movement speed and reasoning power, this will be a little more dangerous as you need to get you test zombie to try chasing you onto a roof or around a wall. Lastly you need to find a quick killing/stunning method on the zombie. Start with blunt end of your spear, break joints and test blows to the head, test the knife and various stabs. If the zombie does not die, use the knife and test severing the spinal cord with a stab at the base of the skull. Hopefully something will work! Test your findings on other zombies if you get the chance, just to confirm your assumptions. 

Once you have a defined your zombie you can progress to the next step. If you get the chance however, forage for surplus food, weapons and survival gear. By foraging from a central base you can collect items and then analyse their usefulness in secure place. When scavenging avoid tight areas, keep in mind car and household alarms, keep an escape route in mind as well as a hiding spot away from your base. Do not break windows or doors when you can avoid it, use prying tools and take your time entering buildings. Too much haste will get you killed.

On to….

Step 3: Plan and Action

Out of all the steps this one involves the most independent thought. You need to consider what you know of the zombies. How do they react? When and how can you move safely? Can they be distracted? What would happen if you were to use a vehicle? The main purpose of Step 3 is to find a safe haven, where you can survive for as long as possible. 

In my case, my family owns a game farm where we keep herbivorous wild animals, predominantly buck. The farm is highly isolated, surrounded by a high wire fence, and is built on stilts to provide a large vantage point. Whilst there are many weaknesses, the isolation will serve as the best defence. There is also plenty of arable land to plant fast growing crops and with plenty of animals to shoot there is plenty of food. Although I should learn to hunt with a bow and arrow. There are also 2 windmills for bringing up borehole water as well as several large storage tanks. This is an ideal location with sufficient resources and space to manoeuvre. 

In order to get to your haven there are certain things to consider. You’ll need an off-road worthy vehicle fast and sturdy. Supplies to last for as long as possible, food mostly, but also anything that can be planted and cultivated. Fruit and vegetables as well as as any canned goods as you can carry. The higher the protein the better, remember to stay hydrated! You also need to consider weaponry both melee and firearms. A crossbow or compound bow would also be extremely valuable – remember not to use arrows on the undead and then again whilst hunting for food. It would be a terrible waste if you died because you forgot to clean your arrows properly. Don’t rely on fixed electricity or generators – save any fuel you can gather as this could save your life – instead use fire and move in daylight.


So in Step 3 this is what you’re going to need to plan for:

  • Isolation_Well_Done.PNGISOLATION (This is the big one)
  • Food (Grow, Hunt, Forage)
  • Good vantage point
  • Accessible water
  • Security
  • Weapons (Melee, Firearms, Stealth)
  • Escape route
  • Room to expand

If you understand anything about the zombocalypse it should be this: Survival depends on isolation and stealth. No matter how much high power ammunition you have or your skills with weapons, they will eventually run out. If your undead are extremely contagious and violent like rage victims (Danny Boyle – 28 Days Later…), weapons may be useful but in the end you’ll be attracting them like smokers to a pulmonologist. i.e. Not inevitable but highly likely. Stay hidden, consider your surroundings and be safe. Kill what you have to and wound the rest (enough to move safely). 

In the end you need to follow through on your plan and survive as long as possible. Everything after this point is up to you. Good luck, hopefully I’ll see you when we start to rebuild!

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Marina Chetner

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