A Down to Earth, No Nonsense Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

image by cogdogblog

It’s one of our worst fears. The thing that keeps us up at night. The end of the world as we know it has arrived. The proverbial you-know-what has hit the fan. Civilization has collapsed. And this cataclysm has come in the form most of us expected: a full on zombie apocalypse.

You, being awesome, were totally prepared for surviving the zombie apocalypse and are riding it out in style. One day you decide to go out and inspect the damage, and maybe gather some supplies. Things are bad out there, but you realize that you can handle it. No matter what happens, you have the will and capability to survive.

Just then, you feel someone- or something- grab you. You turn around and come face-to-face with a member of the undead. A zombie. He sinks his rotting teeth into your flesh, and its game over.

You lost the zombie apocalypse.

Luckily, the last half-dozen or so times this has happened to me (this week), I woke up in a cold sweat and realized that it WASN’T game over. It was all a dream, and I was being given another chance to prepare myself for this scenario. I steel my resolve, and make a promise to myself that I’d never allow this happen (and that I would stop eating Doritos before bed).

With a few easy steps, you can greatly reduce your chances of becoming zombie chow during the rise of the undead.


image by saras2uk

The first step in becoming prepared for the zombie apocalypse is to prepare your home. If the George A. Romero movies have taught us anything, it’s that a secure living space is key. A farm house in the middle of nowhere? Not so good. A deserted mall with security doors? Much better. An underground military bunker stocked with supplies? Now we’re talking.

For most of us, though, we will only have access to our homes, but with a little preparation and creativity we can turn them into our fortresses. If you live in a house, you’ll want to have wood and nails ready to board up all the windows on the bottom floor. Having a fence surrounding your house will go a long way to creating an extra barrier between you and the hordes of the undead, as well as any roving bandits that will inevitably show up from time to a time in a post-apocalyptic world. While it’s tough to fully secure a regular house, if you lay low and keep the lights off at night, you can fly under the radar and avoid most trouble.

If you live in an apartment, you’re in luck. The stairways and apartments are usually supplied with security doors, very difficult for an unwanted visitor to penetrate, human or otherwise. If your apartment is above the ground floor, you won’t have to worry about zombies coming in through your windows. You’ll also have a good vantage point of the surrounding area, giving you a better chance of survival during the occasional supply raid.

After securing your home, you’ll need to stock up on supplies. I suggest at least a month of food and water to get you through the worst of times.  If 28 Days Later taught us anything, it’s that after a month zombies start running out of food and starving. You’ll want at least 2 liters of water per person per day, for drinking and washing.  (That’s 60 liters per person for a month). You’ll want to store a ton of food as well. Go with non-perishable, nutrient dense food, with a balance of protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates. Protein and granola bars, canned fruit and veggies, peanut butter and rice are good ideas to start with. It’s also helpful if the food doesn’t need to be cooked, as energy might be in short supply.

image by Dr. Stephen Dann

Security, water and food are the essentials. After you have those covered, you’ll want something to keep you occupied during a zombie apocalypse. Boredom can be a killer if it causes you to leave your house. Consider a good supply of books, as CDs, DVDs and video games may be useless if the power stops working.

Once you’ve secured your home and supplied it with food, water, and entertainment, it’s imperative to STAY INDOORS. It can be tempting to want to go outside, but doing so greatly increases the chances of our above scenario happening. As long as your home is properly stocked, there’s no reason to leave it under any circumstances. Lay low and let the worst of times blow over.


All right, so despite my best warnings, you’ve decided to leave your house. Maybe you need more supplies, food or medical assistance. Maybe you need to help someone out. Or maybe curiosity got the best of you. I don’t support your decision, but I’m here to help you increase your chances of surviving it.

First, you’ll want to have a weapon. Max Brooks, author of The Zombie Survival Guide, recommends large blunt objects, such as swords, over guns. They’re silent, accurate, and don’t run out of bullets. I generally agree with this, but there’s something that Brooks is forgetting and that is that guns just LOOK COOL.  I mean, there’s just something awesome and empowering about firing some rounds into the skulls of the undead. Plus, guns allow for greater distances between you and your targets. Perhaps a combination of guns and hand weapons is the best bet. Definitely resist the temptation to go Army of Darkness and break out the chainsaw, though. It’s a close range weapon, it’s loud, it runs out of gas quickly, and it will spray unwanted bits of sawed-up zombie all over you and your clothes.

You’ll want to wear multiple layers of thick clothing, to avoid any skin being penetrated by a zombie bite. Cover up as much as possible, with no open skin. The ideal would be police riot gear, so do your best to mimic that.

Get out there, do what you need you need to do, and get back quickly. Always have an escape route. Never allow yourself to get trapped in a corner. Be quick and discreet. Keep an eye out to make sure no one is following you, and you just might make it home in one piece.


In the short term, the best thing to do is to lay low. The fewer people who know where you are, the better, but in the long run, you can’t do it alone. Human beings’ greatest strength comes from our social bonds. United we stand, divided we fall, as the saying goes. People have different skills, and for us to thrive we need a community of individuals with various tools and talents. Developing these relationships now would go a long way in helping to survive and thrive in the zombie apocalypse over the long term.

Some skills and traits to look for in your future post-apocalyptic community members:

-The ability to supply food, either through farming or raising livestock

-Doctors, nurses, or anyone with medical training

-Carpenters, plumbers, or any other tradesmen

Some things to avoid in your future post-apocalyptic community members:

-Those that seem mentally unstable, on the verge of a breakdown

-Those with violent/criminal tendencies

-Anyone nursing unexplained wounds

If you prepare a network of like minded individuals before the undead begin rising, you will be in a much better position to survive over the long haul.

So you’ve had your warning, and now it’s time for action. Go out there and get prepared.

And always remember- if it looks undead, aim for the head.

Guest post by RamboMoe. Read more from him at Prepared For That.

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

© Copyright 2012 The Survival Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Survival Mom
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  1. says

    Securing a home against invasion is a tricky business. Many invaders are now armed with breaching tools designed to tear through security doors, and originally sold to fire departments and SWAT teams. Now they are publicly available. Another major threat is fire. If someone is angry that they can't get your stuff, they just might torch your house. Worse yet, an apartment is nothing but a giant bonfire waiting to be ignited. Without water, fighting an arson fire lit by a moderately competent arsonist is impossible.

    • Jules says

      it's all about WTSHTF, it doesn't matter if it has zombies in it or not, it just happens right now Zombies are the in thing, and if that is the reason why someone reads this article so be it . The general knowledge of survival and preparedness written in the column is what matters, lighten up a bit.
      When the CDC needed to raise awareness to getting people more involved in being prepared for disasters, they ran this article last year, ( http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2011/05/… ) there was enough traffic to the site that it went down for awhile. So if someone came away with the knowledge that they should be prepared for any future events/disasters, isn't that a good thing?
      Again you may be turned off about the whole zombie thing but realize there are some zombie groups that run little get away weekends just to practice their survival, hunting, first aid, basic skills and new techniques, so it can't be all bad.

      • Joseph P. Daly says

        “Zombies” are a p.c. code with in pop culture for the elements of our society that should, really, be eliminated. They are the biggest danger to society during a post disaster environment. The best example would be armed street gangs (i.e. post Katrina) that would organize and then prey upon the helpless.

  2. says

    @Mary: In the context of avoiding a horde or zombies, I'd say yes. Both buildings have their own strengths and challenges, though.

    @LP: absolutely, in this day in age it's very tough to make a building inaccessible if someone really want to get in and has the tools and know how. That's why keeping a low profile would be very important. And yeah, if someone wanted to torch your house of apartment, there isn't a whole ton you can do.

  3. LetsPrep says

    I’ve been giving home security a lot of thought lately because we live near 3 major roadways and the back of our Florida home is nearly all glass. I considered boards but they might advertise that there was something worthwhile behind them plus they could be torn down. Hurricane shutters are nice but beyond our means and, again, someone could take an axe to them. I finally decided that no amount of reinforcement or weapons would keep us safe and we’d need to bug out. Unfortunately, the only place we have to go is over 1,000 miles away. By the way, it's rural. We’ve decided to pre-position 50% of our stuff at the bug out location and leave at the first sign of trouble, while everyone else is still frozen in confusion and denial. If nothing happens we’ll have a nice vacation and if it does, hopefully, we’ll make it out.

  4. says

    LetPrep – You can use impact or shatter film to protect your glass panels. (I'm going to have to do a write-up on those one of these dayds…) 8mm ought a do it. http://shattergard.com/home.html – ShaterGARD http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiT3x0se2Mk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpNN66ct3GE&fe… – 3M Film
    With these films, your glass will stay intact after impacts. The videos explain the theory. For regular homes, this is a must on ground floor windows and sliding glass doors. Some front doors have glass windows next to them, which thieves love to use to get to your dead bolt. A layer or two of this, and they will be crying when the cops show up in the middle of their frustrated efforts.

    • Sam says

      The glass will stay intact, and be lying on your living room floor in one big piece unless the film is screwed or glued to the window frame (not just the molding).

  5. Michele in ID says

    I love this website and I loved this article. I grew up in England and saw the history of the plague all around me. How fast it took down a country or more for that matter. Now as adult I could see some crazy disease moving fast across our country. So yeah Zombies I think about them just like every other possible disaster out there. Anyways great read and thank you!!

  6. says

    Hey Michelle, thanks for the kind words. I think the cool thing about zombies- and why they’re so popular- is that they represent any natural disaster, while at the same time being fantastic enough that it allows us to explore our fears safely. We all have our fears about how we would handle if SHTF, and a zombie movie allows us to explore these fears, but in an entertaining way that when its done, we can go back to our lives without too much lingering fear. A movie on say, a pandemic or economic collapse, doesn’t quite have the same effect.

    Plus, there’s something empowering about being able to FIGHT BACK against an epidemic. We can fire a few rounds into the brains of a zombie, we can’t quite do the same to bird flu or hyperinflation.

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