The Zombies Are Here. Are You Ready?

Someone has to say it: the zombie apocalypse is upon us. The electrical grid is blowing up, the Eastern Seaboard is underwater, the Appalachia’s are under snow, freeways have turned into waterways and, just so the West Coast can get in on the action, earthquakes rock the coast of British Columbia roughly every two hours.

Shuffling hoards can’t be far behind and they are coming for your brain. If you want to survive, it’s time to get serious. You’re gonna need some stuff.

Bottled water

Zombies have all that terrible grey skin sloughing off them because they are severely dehydrated. And dead. Avoid their cosmetic embarrassment and non-living status by keeping at least a gallon of water on hand for every day that you will be under siege.

If you have compatriots with you in the battle (and I recommend that you team up, as this makes survival more likely) make sure they have enough water too.

You are probably going to be too busy running off the Minions of the Damned to worry about a little B.O., but if a fresh personal scent is really important to you, or you prefer food that isn’t jerky, think about storing extra water for bathing and cooking.

Non-perishable food

Your absolute best all-around option is canned brains. Open canned brains and see Zombies come running, like cats sprinting towards the delectable smell of the Ocean Fish flavor Fancy Feast. Use canned brains to bait Zombie Traps and, if the coast is clear, scramble them with eggs* for a tasty Portuguese delicacy when you get the go-ahead from your lookout.

If brains are unavailable, canned tuna, salmon, chicken or beans can stand in well. Note that these things do not have a particularly good track record when used as Zombie Bait but will probably be of more appeal to The Living. Keep a can opener with your canned brains for obvious reasons.

For just snacking (not trapping The Undead) jerky, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate and other tasty treats make excellent energy food. Keep in mind that if all your non-perishables are dried, you’ll need to drink and store more water.

*Eating brains will not, in and of itself, turn you into a Zombie, but it can result in transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.

Flashlight and batteries

A Maglite is the preferred flashlight of Zombie Fighters everywhere because it is durable and doubles a great billy club. Classic Maglite technique is the ol’ dazzle-em-and-whack-em move. Try to aim for the head – you have to go for their brain before they go for yours.

When Zombies are not around, a good flashlight will also help you not thwack your ankles on kids toys while searching for warm blankets during power outages. Which brings me to…

Clothing, blankets and footwear

Zombies always come on accompanied by an eerie, otherworldly cold mist. This (or a power outage) can result in rapidly dropping temperatures. If you get too cold you are less effective at defending yourself and your compatriots from the ravenous undead. It’s also harder to get effective sleep during your 2-hour off-watch-shift if you’re struggling with chilly toes.

Make sure this preventable tragedy doesn’t happen to you: stock warm layers of clothing in your bunker or hallway closet. Throw some good socks in there for everyone who might need them. Don’t forget a hat: any extra layer of protection around your brain is good.

Blankets will also help keep you warm and Zombies can be entangled in a blanket snare, so having extra blankets around is an excellent security decision. If you can catch a zombie in a blanket snare, burning is, of course, the appropriate course of action.

Let’s talk footwear. In their shambling efforts to get into your house, Zombies may break your windows. (Wind, earthquakes and storm conditions of many kinds can also break windows.)

Running barefoot Die Hard-style across a floor of shattered glass shards is only cool if you are Bruce Willis, and this probably isn’t the place to try out those Vibram Five Fingers everyone at the gym has been sporting recently either. Keep some comfortable, water-resistant, heavy duty boots on hand for glass walking and general-purpose bodily defense needs.

Deck of playing cards

Sometimes Zombies don’t show up and it’s good to have something to do to pass the time that doesn’t require an iPad. However, since the Walking Dead might be lurking anywhere, you need to stay vigilant.

These Zombie Training/Playing Survival Cards can help keep your mind on survival while you relax with round of pinochle.

If you don’t already have a catalog of good card games in your head that you can teach to the kids by the light of candles when the power goes out, consider picking up a good game rules book. You want to be fighting the Zombies, not debating with each other over which card is The River. We really like this one.

Strike anywhere matches in a waterproof container and a lighter

It’s gruesome but true: torching a Zombie will neutralize the threat of having your brains turned into a milkshake. Don’t try to MacGyver fire, just keep lots of matches on hand.

Matches can also be used to light other kinds of non-zombie fires: signaling, cooking, heating and lighting can all be accomplished in a low-technology situation with through controlled and appropriate use of fire.

Lightweight axe and multi-purpose knife

Their usefulness in Zombie Survival is, I should think, self-evident: close-in, targeted combat with the knife plus wild, eyes-closed, panicked hacking with the axe. What might surprise you is the number of ways these tools can be put to use that don’t involve Zombie slaying.

For example, if you are forced to eat down perishable provisions, perhaps because your  Electric Fast Refrigeration and Inefficient Deepfreeze Gizmo (FRIDG,E) is no longer being supplied with electricity, a knife can make the preparation of those provisions much easier.

And an axe? Essential for hacking through difficult-to-dismantle barricades of both downed tree limbs and downed Zombie limbs.

First aid kit and manual

While you will, no doubt, come out victorious in your Zombie Defense efforts, no one can promise there won’t be some scrapes and bumps along the way.

As any three year old can tell you, a band-aid can make most scrapes better, but by having a full complement of basic first aid supplies you can make sure that you live to fight another day. Unless you and all your compatriots are trained in the healing arts, a basic first aid manual should be in your Zombie Kit as well.

Going Beyond Basics

For a more complete list of what you need to increase your chances of coming through a disaster with your brain intact, check out the website, which gives advice and complete checklists for building disaster readiness kits.

For official US Government Zombie Preparedness material (I’m totally not kidding), including a graphic novella, posters and more, visit the CDC.

But Seriously

Zombies – ha ha! But seriously, Giant Zombiestorm Sandy – slow moving, mostly grey, lots of otherworldly mist and very, very destructive – messed some shit up bad and, as of this writing, continues to do so. This one is going to take a lot of time and a lot of money to recover from, and for those who have lost family and friends in the storm, nothing will ever be quite the same.

Our thoughts and sympathies are with those in the path of and reeling from the wreckage of this storm. I hope we who are watching from afar gain, in the images of destruction, deeper understanding of our individual responsibilities for emergency readiness.

It’s far better to get your emergency readiness kit together and never need it than to scramble when a true emergency is upon you. Don’t be the dude in the three hour line at Target trying to buy the last case of water and the last family pack of Snicker’s bars, ok?

Do you have an emergency kit and plan? Has Hurricane Sandy made you consider upping your own preparedness level?


  1. says

    Sandy has made me think that it might be nice to be off grid. I’m nowhere near the ocean. I live about 250 miles or so from NYC and Boston so the biggest threat here was high winds and power outages. I guess solar panels are pretty tough so it seems to me that battery and generator back up would be ideal in these situations. And if it’s great in a storm, then why not just be off grid for good? But I admit that I haven’t really studied it thoroughly to see if that’s true. It sure would be nice to have no electric bill, though mine isn’t all that high anyway.

    As for Sandy, the local (note I said local) hype on this storm has been driving me nuts. The NOAA forecast for my area predicted no more .75 – 1.75″ of rain (total, from Monday morning thru Wed. evening) and the worst winds were to be last night: 35 – 40 mph w/55 mph gusts. NOAA’s predictions were dead on. We frequently have far worse when summer thunderstorm fronts blow through in the summer.

    Anyway, the local media and politicians have been doing their best to freak everyone out about this storm for several days now despite what NOAA kept predicting. I kept checking the forecasts thinking surely I had to have missed something for everyone to be in such a frenzy. Nope. Just the usual pre-storm hype. This area is far enough inland (250 miles from both NYC and Boston, remember) that we’re almost always on the fringes of these things, but I swear the local media feels left out. So they go nuts. Every time.

    The reality is that, except for some scattered power outages and a stiff breeze, all is normal here this morning. We had a beautiful full moon with big puffy clouds at 5 AM and now I’m seeing blue sky and a bit of sunshine peeking through. My garden rain gauge says I got 1/4″ of rain. But you should hear the griping here because all the schools aren’t closed. These people need to spend some time watching the coverage from NYC and other hard-hit areas and then be grateful we live where we do. Sigh.

  2. Matt Jarvis says

    Nicely done!

    That reminds me that perhaps I should sharpen my axe, for those times when I will need to embed it in some zombie skull…. or clear some brush off my truck out front…

    In all seriousness, being an ex mountain climber and wilderness traveler, I feel I’m pretty well geared up for the worst (except flooding)…. Food might be an exception, but I can just use the axe and dispatch a zombie or two….

    Eugene, Oregon

  3. Lillian Davenport says

    Thank you for this timely post. Preparedness is so important, yet most people neglect to do so, even at the most minimal level. I hope that this hurricane serves as a wake-up call to those who, for some reason, think something like this cant happen to them. Obviously it can, not necessarily in the form of a hurricane, but something of similar magnitude can happen anywhere thanks to climate change!

  4. STH says

    Yep, I was following the coverage of Sandy last night and thinking I should really check my emergency kit; it’s been a while. My partner thinks it’s silly, but you never know what might happen. We’re in eastern WA state, so no hurricanes or nor’easters here, but earthquakes are a possibility and we have had bad storms that have kept us trapped at home for a week. And I sure was glad I had those canned soups and things last winter when we both got the flu and were incapacitated for several days.

  5. says

    The Zombies are coming! The Zombies are coming!

    On a more somber note, I am SO upset over the destruction and loss of life due to this storm. It’s a mess out there and I know we will dig them out of it, but what a scary thing.

    We store water in used juice containers that have been cleaned out with warm water and a tablespoon of bleach to get rid of the smell of lemonade or prune juice (not yummy to smell when cracking a fresh bottle of stored water. We have a kit in a big plastic tote full of food and candles and batteries.

    I would add to your list: A CAN OPENER! Just so you can open all the goodies you’ve squirreled away. In case an earth quake makes getting to your regular one tough. Also – a wind up radio, phone charger. You can get them online for about 25$ and they will charge your iphone and give you a radio to listen to as well!

    Earthquakes along British Colombia, huh? Man, oh, man – makes me glad FEMA is still fully funded….

  6. Nicole S. says

    A very timely post, not just because of the storms on the East coast, but because I really should have an emergency kit, and have had it on my to-do list for months. I just need to get it done! Winter is upon us, and I need to be truly ready this time, and for any other natural disaster. Living in the Seattle area, earthquakes are a daily possibility. And they scare the *%#@ out of me, so being prepared should put some of those fears to rest. Thank you for the humorous reminder to be ready for anything.

  7. says

    Our preparedness plans are a bit like our urban homesteading plans… partially half-assed, partially-awesome, partially-holy-shit-hope-TEOTWAWKI-doesn’t-come-soon!

    Good luck to all those facing down the storm…

  8. Nancy Lee says

    I was busy laughing my a off when I paused and realized I was learning something. Just moved into an urban city apartment. I took stock: No garden or stash of canned food. No gallons of water. One band-aid, some neosporin from 1998 and one gallon of brewing Kombucha. I’ve got some work to do.

  9. Debbie says

    I grew up in the Midwest, where we often needed to be stocked up. In the summer, tornadoes were a real threat and in the winter, blizzards. We also learned to keep blankets and snacks in our cars all the time in case of accidents, since we were often traveling country roads or lived far from town where storms could make driving for supplies impossible. In case of an accident or getting stuck, we were taught what to do. I still find myself stocking up on canned food and water when the seasons change and keeping most items from your list on hand all the time.

  10. says

    Love this post. Also love that you started with water- I feel like a lot of people overlook that one. We even have our own color coded Maglites. “Go find yours! That one is mine!”

  11. says

    The varied and useful aspects of a good axe get short shrift. As you said, a close-range multi-purpose tool whose last-ditch value in a zombie melee should not be so easily overlooked.

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