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  • Mike L

The $h!T Done Hit the Fan

Updated: Feb 18

I recently watched a prepper’s channel in which he featured a video on surviving the zombie apocalypse in an urban environment. It was nicely done, and he offered a few solid kernels of advice for good measure. So, I began to think; if a zombie apocalypse ever happened, what advice would I offer up? I address this topic in the post, An Honest Assessment. For the sake of this post, we’re going to assume that such a thing is possible. Given that, what should you do to increase the odds of staying alive?

Your People

First, do whatever is necessary to get to your family as safely and as quickly as possible. Once reunited, take stock of your situation and supplies then decide what's your best next move. For the time being, hunker down where you are. If you're at home, barricade yourself in a ground floor or upstairs bedroom. Avoid the basement. I'll discuss why later. Depending upon when the situation in your area reaches its inflection point, the point at which the established order breaks down and chaos ensues, it might be best to flee under cover of darkness. Go and live or stay and die; your choices are binary. Wondering what to take or what you might need before your epic flight for life? Download the Bug Out Bag Checklist.

If you're going to stay, you'll need to operate in stealth mode. Keep reading for more tips on what to do if remaining in the city is your best option. If leaving is your best option, figure out where you're going and how to get there. Are you going to ride it out with the in-laws in the next state or to Grandma's house in the burbs? Does the family cabin a few hours away in a resort community? Know where you're going and move purposefully and quietly.

Traveling on foot, by canoe, and bicycle are preferable as they make little to no noise. The downside is they require the expenditure of personal energy which is finite. Motor vehicles are preferable but the drawback is the noise produced is akin to a dinner bell for the undead. There's also the prospect that the roads are impassable thus making vehicles a poor choice in an urban setting. The average person only walks about two and a half miles in a day. Of course, the more physically fit you are, the greater the distance you can cover before needing to stop for the day. Carefully plan how you're going to get to your safe haven.

Family in tow, get the hell out of the city, tout suite. The threat environment is enormous and literally, monsters are hiding in the shadows, around the corner, and behind closed doors. Your chances are better in smaller, more remote locations that can be readily defended. I’m not saying that it’s impossible for a group to make a go of it in a city. Above all, they’d have to be smart and nimble. They’d also need to be a highly cohesive and disciplined group; no one endangers the group by going rogue or compromising operational security. Finally, they’d need numerous well-hidden and well-stocked hideouts throughout the city.

The Muscle That Counts

Opposable thumbs, check. Pattern recognition, check. Ability to create and use tools, check. Lots of things separate us from every other animal on the planet, but in this instance, I’m referring to our ability to think critically and to work collaboratively with others. Hands down, human beings rock the party in this one! We can think, examine, plan, engineer, and construct our way out of almost anything.   

Lone Wolf or Form a Pack

Is it better to die alone or live a bit longer as a member of a group? It’s possible to survive for a time as a lone wolf, but the second you get sick or become severely injured, the likelihood of death is almost certain. I strongly encourage you to join a group as soon as possible. Be clear on one point, though. Kicking a member out is sentencing that person to death. You may even find yourself on this side of the equation.

Another thing to consider is that the person you voted off the island will have a real and legit grievance with the group, should they survive. Nothing short of your collective, slow, and painful deaths will satisfy his/her need for vengeance.

Finally, they know your group’s secrets. All of them. How you choose to deal with this person or persons is key to your continued survival. Your choices are to either send him off well-supplied, dispatch him yourself or offer him up as a sacrifice to the zombie horde. These dynamics underscore the importance of choosing wisely. If you’ve not done so, read the post Community Building.


 Before You Shake Hands

Before you invite another or agree to join others, you want to give them the sniff test, first. Obviously, in such a situation, the normal methods by which we evaluate others to see if they’re as cool or as deserving as we are no longer applies. There’s no playbook for this one so you’ll have to trust your gut and go with first impressions. The adage that necessity makes strange bedfellows would reach its nadir in a zombie apocalypse. If a couple of random guys hear your cries for help and save your life, chances are joining up with them is a solid idea. Equally, they could still assault and kill you later. The benefit of a group is that everyone benefits from everyone else, and this is certainly a point to stress.   

Hiding and Holding Up

Whenever possible, go up, not down. Basements and lower levels are deathtraps. With nowhere to go, you're sealed up and the zombies may as well be leisurely opening a can of chipped beef. Being on the upper floors of tall buildings gives you more options for escape. There’s also the bonus of having positions from which to snipe. The barricades you use to block the doors should be able to be removed quickly fom the inside in case you need to get out quickly.  


As far as everyone knows, the undead lack fine motor skills as well as all but the most basic cognitive abilities. Thus, they can’t manipulate keys and doorknobs, nor can they look at an obvious trap and figure it out. The living: however, may be dumb as doorknobs, but they’ll easily figure out likely hiding spots and like you, will know where to look for food, water, and other resources. Choose wisely and cover your tracks. As long as you’re not on the business end of it, a booby trap or two wouldn’t hurt!  

Shut Up!

Be quiet and be still! Like other apex predators, zombies hunt by sight (movement) and sound. Move as quickly and as quietly as you can. Once you’ve hunkered down for the night, stay put. No lights, no radios, use your inside voice and for the love of all that’s holy, no crying!   

No Crying Aloud

Save your breath. The dead can’t be appealed to or reasoned with. Kill the undead on sight and be wary of the living. At some point, you’ll have to confront a large, well-armed group but it’s best to do so on an equal footing. Much like in normal times, cry in silence, alone or in a group.

Shots to the Dome

Remember, head shots, only. You must destroy what’s left of the brain to destroy to fully neutralize the zombie threat. Tripping maneuvers or strikes to the body are only effective if they allow you a second to recover before delivering the fatal blow. Anything less, and you’re delaying your inevitable death. Of course, decapitation works, too!

Reconnaissance and Reconnoiter

Information is the coin of the realm, but excess curiosity is likely to be fatal. Checking every abandoned house and store for food and other resources is fraught with risk. I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m advising you to weigh these risks carefully. Aside from the very real prospect of being eaten alive, are armed, roving gangs merely robbing survivors or are they killing them on the spot?

Based upon your assessment of the hazards in your part of the city, develop plans to stay out of sight and to minimize contact with both the living and the undead. It might be safest to travel at night and the early morning hours. Even if you’re in a fortified stronghold, someone should always be assigned to keep watch, whether it’s day or night and regardless of what others in the group are doing. Robust operational security protocols must be established and compliance will have to become second nature.

New Normal

Nothing will be as it was before and this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Again, there’s no playbook so flexibility and adaptability will be essential to survival for individuals and groups.  

People Are People

People don’t eat other people, even if you’re really hungry and don’t like the person you’re thinking of fileting. Don’t do it.

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