Zombie Warfare Preparation: Zombies Don't Swim
by Christopher Peruzzi
These are things you should know and plan for before it happens - not during. You are being "hunted" by creatures that are no longer living. They don't eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, or even breathe. Most importantly, they are relentless. They won't stop until they get fresh, living, meat - like you, for instance.
If you are not lucky enough to be in a strong fortification with enough supplies to wait out the living dead, you will probably find yourself running for your life while a horde of undead pursue you. On open ground, your choices are quite limited. You'll be safe in your car until you run out of gas. You'll be safe in your house, until you run out of food (or until enough of the dead push down your door). You'll be safe with other people until one of them "turns".
But what about taking your chances on the water?
Typical Base Problems
Type of Base
No water for humans. Zombies are made of "jerky" now.
As zombie muscles dry, they get easier to snap.
Mosquitoes, alligators, bugs, snakes, and smell.
The moist climate makes zombies deteriorate faster
Snow and Tundra
Cold. While zombies freeze they come back once they've thawed.
Frozen zombies are easy to kill.
You are cut off from all resources. If you run out of water, you're screwed.
While zombies don't drown - they don't swim, either.
Zombies could be locked inside with you.
Zombies outside stay outside.
Swimming for it
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "If I jump into the water the zombies won't come after me."
Why wouldn't they?
These are unthinking automations. They don't fear anything - they certainly won't fear going into a pool or a lake... or even the ocean. If you run into the water, you have every reason to believe that they will shuffle along after you eventually.
Well, I have some good news and I have some bad news.
The good news is that zombies don't swim. There's some actual thinking that goes into the mechanics of doing the Australian crawl or the breast stroke - even a dog paddle. You need to think about how to swim. Zombies don't have that kind of brain power. They just know you as "wet food".
Here's the bad news: Zombies don't swim. When you think about it, it's just as George Carlin said about swimming "not being a sport." Swimming is a way to keep from drowning. Human beings are afraid of drowning because it leads to death. And when we think about why people drown, it's because they've fallen below the water line and can not breathe.
Zombies don't breathe.
So what does this mean? It means that there is no air in their lungs. With the exception of any fat that might be in their body, they shouldn't even float. With no air in their body, they will be (please forgive the pun) dead weight - and walk right into the water. And they will keep walking.
What you have to be worried about is if a zombie, while under water can grab at your legs while you're trying to stay afloat. If the water is deep, this isn't an issue. However, if the water is shallow (under 20 feet deep - taking the average height of a human being as six foot tall add the length of three feet of length to a zombie arm plus the five feet or so height of the swimmer), you have a very real possibility of being dragged under.
I would also be wary of lakes as you have no idea if there's a zombie already there. Should a zombie be underwater, there is very little motivation for it to resurface unless there is something to attract it. Should it sense a swimmer, it may move toward it.
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Boats and Off Shore Oil Rigs
Provided that you have a well stocked boat with plenty of fresh water, a boat isn't a bad plan for escape. You are safe so long as your supplies hold out. A boat offers relative safety and will certainly allow you and your party a decent night's sleep - depending on how large the boat is.
If you are with a small party of people and you suspect that one of them is infected, you can (depending where you are geographically) drop them off at a nearby island or dispose of them at sea after "euthanizing" them. The legality of this is questionable given the freedom of the seas and a charge of "murder".
Please be aware that a boat is a mixed blessing. If you do not have sufficient supplies and fresh water and gas being caught out at sea can be just as deadly as being with the undead. A boat escape should be considered in the event of a quick get away and that precautions have been taken.
Along the same lines, there are offshore oil rigs. Offshore oil rigs have the advantage of being well stocked and away from heavy population zones. The chances of a break out or infection on an oil rig are slim to none. They are usually well fortified, well stocked, and have weapons on board. Given that these structures are somewhat self sustaining in regards to power, this would be a great location to sit out the infection, until the eventual resupply of stocks are needed. However, given the quantity of food and medical supplies on the structure, that should not be for a long time.
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Escape by water is a mixed blessing. It may be more dangerous to attempt swimming than running away from a ghoul. As zombies don't need to breathe air, they are good underwater walkers and may already be lying in wait for an unfortunate swimmer to be pulled under. Swimming is only a viable option in deep water where you can see the bottom - like a deep indoor diving pool. In trying to use this option as either an escape or a way to bide your time, be aware that you will need to tread water for any time you will spend swimming - and that can be tiring.
On the flip side, a boat or ship can provide temporary relief, provided that it is well stocked and reliable. It can allow a small team of people comfort and relative safety for extended periods of time. Offshore oil rigs are even better as they have well stock provisions on board and will not be readily available to any of the walking dead.
The key to all of these escapes is preparedness and planning.
© 2012 Christopher Peruzzi