Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse
In light of recent remarks made by the Centers For Disease Control, I thought it was about time I addressed a serious issue that we may all face in the very near future. I am speaking, of course, about the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse. Some may scoff at the idea of a zombie apocalypse, but considering the major advancements that have been made in scientific research, and the ongoing research in the field of biological and chemical weaponry, it is entirely possible that some bug, or chemical weapon will either accidentally infect the world, or it will be unleashed after falling into the wrong hands. Either way, it is best to be prepared. The CDC suggests you prepare as you would prepare for any other major disaster, and while to a certain extent, that is all well and good, there is a rather large difference between a major hurricane, and a hoard of brain-hungry zombies roaming the streets, consuming everyone in their path.
What Is A Zombie? How Will It Happen?
What is a zombie? The idea of a zombie originated with the religion of voodoo. While voodoo has gotten a rather bad rap over the years; with curses, voodoo dolls, and the sort; the religion itself is a little less disturbing and fantastic than the movies would have you believe. The real power of voodoo is in the belief of it. It is said that a powerful bokor, or priest, can use a powerful potion that will kill a man, but make it possible to bring the man back from the dead, and then use the zombie to do his bidding. A zombie, in any sense, is a person who has died and then had their dead body reanimated, no matter the cause or reason.
These types of zombies, while giving us a little historical frame of reference, are not the zombies I am talking about. The zombies I am talking about, the ones most likely to overrun the Earth, devouring all life in their path, are the more famous zombies of movie fame, than those of religious myth. As to what would bring about this zombie apocalypse, there are several theories, and ideas.
One theory as to what would bring about an infestation of flesh eating zombies is a massive infection, that spreads quickly. What exactly would be the source of the infection? More than likely, it would be caused by the release (either accidental or intentional) of a virus. This virus would have to not only incubate rapidly in a person, but also spread rapidly from person to person. Some theorize that a mutated strain of the rabies virus would be the cause. Rabies is a virus that is transmitted through a bite by an infected animal. It can spread to humans, and it can be deadly. It does not reanimate dead tissue, bringing the infected back to life, but it does create a “madness”, a state that causes the infected to act in a more base, animal state. It causes brain damage, affecting thought, gross motor control, and often leading to coma and death.
Also a possibility is a strain of a virus similar to Mad Cow Disease. Mad Cow Disease is a modified protein, called a prion protein. When a cow ingests this protein, it causes brain and spinal cord degeneration. We all know what that means...It causes your brain to degenerate, therefor, causing physical and mental impairments. Similar to rabies, it would not reanimate dead tissue, but would cause a "zombie-like" state. It would have to be a mutant strain of Mad Cow, also known as BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), because it has a rather long incubation period, and therefor, would not spread quickly.
Other suggest that a entirely new, lab-created, virus or toxin will be to blame (think Resident Evil). Experimentation involving chemical and biological weapons is done by more countries and governments than we can even imagine, and the advancements in that research is more than likely beyond what even the most imaginative screen writer could come up with. Testing is done on animals, and in some countries, even people. What if one of these “test subjects” were to somehow get out? As I write this, dozens of epidemic, zombie, and end-of-the-world movies are running through my head.
Truthfully, the possibilities are endless. Anything is possible. A comet from a distant planet, carrying a bizarre virus or parasite, mutations after a nuclear war, so many different scenarios have been explored through literature and film. Cause aside, let's take a look at the most important part...survival. How do you survive when all the odds are against you?
Basic survival is about meeting your immediate needs; food, water, shelter and safety. That goes for any disaster, no matter what the cause. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, there are other things to consider as well, but we will get to those later. Having an emergency preparedness kit on hand is a good idea, especially if you live in areas where you are more likely to encounter a natural disaster. I have a small kit in my closet, just in case, as well as water and food in the pantry.
In terms of water, the basic rule of thumb is one gallon of water, per person, per day. Water is essential to survival. A person can last around three days without water, depending on the circumstances. Having a supply of bottled water is a good idea. Either fill up some jugs from the sink or spend the money on bottled water, either way, make sure you have water on hand. If the zombie apocalypse comes about, eventually, the electrical grid will start to shut down. Indoor plumbing will be a thing of the past; everything will fall away. Water can be found other ways, of course, rivers, lakes, etc, but with the levels of pollution that are already affecting the Earth, and depending on the cause, those types of water sources may not even be safe. A supply of water purification tablets are also a good idea, if the disaster sends you on the move. Tablets are easier to cart around than gallon jugs of water.
The next concern is food. Anyone who lives in an area prone to hurricanes, generally has a supply of food on hand. Canned goods are a great idea, as are easy to prepare foods with a long shelf life. If electricity shuts down, so does any means for keeping food cold. And, for goodness sake, remember to have a manual can opener along with the canned goods. I know some households don't even have one anymore. A good variety of foods is a good idea; canned fruits, vegetables, meats and fish, as well as crackers and pasta, evaporated or powdered milk, nuts, dried fruits, and other powdered or dried items.
Shelter is a concern in the event of any disaster, but in the event of a zombie apocalypse, shelter is a different concern. In a natural disaster, shelter is needed to provide protection from the elements, such as a hurricane or tornado. Zombies bring about a whole new set of problems. Suitable shelter needs to be fortified, and secure. Some may wish to seek out other survivors, but that poses a certain amount of risk. Large, urban areas are particularly tricky. A large population ensures that there will be a large food source for not only the survivors, but also for the zombies. And in the long run, cities start to smell with the built up garbage and other unpleasant things. Rural areas may be a safer haven initially, but will be less secure, and will provide less of an abundance of readily available food sources. It seems, in this instance, suburban areas are a better bet on the basis that they average out both risk factors. For once, suburbia isn't the horrible place everyone seems to think it is.
Defend Against the Living Dead
Beyond the basics of survival, we need to look at the need for protection and defense. You need to be prepared. If you decide that you are safer as long as you are on the move, you need to be ready to defend yourself against the throngs of ravenous undead that will be looking for their next meal. You need to make sure you aren't on the menu.
Weapons are essential, but practically useless if you don't know how to use them. If you don't know how to use a gun, either learn, or stick with a less risky weapon like a sword or large knife. A machete is a great choice. Plus, they have the added benefit of not needing ammunition. Almost anything can be used as a weapon in a pinch. A good selection of weapons is essential for defending yourself against the random zombie encounter. So, now that you have some weapons, there are a few things you need to know about zombies in order for the weapons to be effective.
Zombies are, according to most accounts, slow-moving, and rather unintelligent. That works in your favor. Use that to your advantage as much as you can. Remember, however, that being that they move so slow, they can travel further distances without tiring. Look at a cheetah. They travel very fast, but can only run short sprints before needing to slow down and rest. A much slower animal can cover greater distances, and continue on longer. A zombie may be easy enough to get away from, but they will catch up with you eventually. Their noticeable lack of intelligence means that even the most simple of obstacles may be hard for them to negotiate. Door knobs may even be beyond their understanding, though they are more likely to just bust down the door, instead.
A zombie can sustain an injury and still continue on. Having already been dead, they most likely have some form of injury to begin with. A loss of a leg or an arm may be of no concern to a mindless feeding machine. Always, always aim for the head. That is the only sure-fire way to put down a zombie for good. You must do major damage to the brain, or remove the head all together. While this may seem gruesome to most, it is information that is vital to one's survival. Even a legless, armless zombie will find a way to drag the remainder of their body to the closest source of food. Kind of like an undead version of the knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, just refusing to give up. Be careful when killing a zombie, though, especially in close quarters.
Don't let a zombie get close enough to scratch or bite you. While a scratch may not lead to infection, a bite is almost guaranteed to. Also be careful about getting their blood on you, or in your mouth. The thoughts on the methods of transmission vary, but better safe than sorry. Keeping a first aid kit and hygiene supplies is a must. Keep all wounds clean and bandaged to prevent not only infection by the zombies, but also more common infections that could slow you down, make you sick or even kill you. Just because zombies roam the earth doesn't mean that other nasty bugs just cease to exist.
Important Instructional Video
The World May Depend on You!
Now that you have the basic information you need in order to survive and a list of items you might need for a complete survival kit, you are well on your way to being prepared just in case those cheesy horror movies, and the jokers at the CDC, are right, and the world does end up overrun with zombies. And just in case you are looking for some more in depth information, you can do a little research of your own, and watch some of the numerous zombie movies out there. You will have plenty of great, and not so great, movies to choose from. Or try out some of the great zombie killing video games. Think of it as a training simulator.
© 2011 Anna Marie Bowman