Brraaiinns! Or How To Survive When The Zombies Arrive

So, let’s say that it has finally happened. The zombie apocalypse that we have all been secretly hoping for has arrived. The ravening hordes are shuffling slowly up your street, intent on feasting on the flesh of the living. What do you do?

PPPPP: Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance

Be prepared, like a good Boy Scout. I’m obviously not suggesting that you have a ‘Zombie Emergency Kit’ stashed in your garage, just plan ahead and make sure you have all the things you might need within easy reach when the inevitable happens. Make sure that the car has at least fifty miles of fuel in the tank and is in reasonable running order. Ensure that your wardrobe contains at least one suit of hard-wearing clothing that covers all areas (leather is good and tough – it’s also wipe clean and sexy as hell). Maintain a good few days worth of tinned food in the cupboard and keep a few clean plastic bottles to fill with drinking water. And a first aid kit is a total necessity, packed with bandages, needles, broad-spectrum antibiotics, painkillers and so on. Water purification kits are also a good idea, in case you get lost out in the wilderness, many miles from Starbucks.

Of course, if you are an American (or a similarly unhinged nationality), you will have relatively easy access to firearms. You should therefore ensure that you are well tooled up in terms of your projectile weapon of choice. May I suggest something in a fully automatic shotgun?

Some people really shouldn't have access to this kind of firepower.

On the other hand, if you live in a country that has slightly more rigorous gun control, the best you’re likely to get is a knackered old double-barrel, and even then only if you happen to live on or near a farm or gun shop (which are few and far between – gun shops that is; there are lots of farms). If you live in the city, you could wait for the armed response units or the military to rock up and get eaten, thus leaving lots of shiny, military-grade weapons and ammo lying around, but then you’ll have to deal with all the zombies enjoying the al fresco soldier buffet.

One thing we can be sure of: melee weapons are a bad idea. If you’re that close, you’re probably already dead, and no amount of stabbing or pummeling is going to make a difference.

Have An Exit Strategy

Ok, you’re all prepared to get the hell out of Dodge. But where are you going? If, like me, you live in a big city, you are surrounded by a couple of million other people, of which a large proportion will be trying to dine on the brains of the remaining few, while those few are trying to also flee the carnage. If we assume a 99% infection rate, that still leaves 78,000 people trying to leave London, 20,000 trying to leave Birmingham. New York? 82,000. Shanghai? 178,000.

That’s a lot of traffic. Panicking traffic.

Beep beep!

You think normal rush hour is bad? Wait until you’ve got zombies stumbling into the flow of traffic, beloved family members zombing out in the back seat of the Zafira and the antics of the kind of people who have been looking forward to a zombie apocalypse just so they could play Mad Max on the ring road.

May I recommend staying at home? At least for a day or two. The zombies are unlikely to target you if you draw no attention to yourself. Lock doors and windows, turn out all lights and make no loud noises. Let the terrified and unprepared draw the danger away. Make sure that there is at least one secure exit to your home, one that will cause difficulties for pursuing zombies; a route across rooftops, or a series of lockable doors (zombies have trouble with doorknobs anyway), just in case the zombies do figure out where you are.

Once the roads have cleared a little, get the hell out of the city and head for a safe place in the country. Which leads us to our next point…

Drive Carefully!

This may be a minor point, but I think it bears close examination. The roads will be filled with abandoned vehicles, discarded rubbish and corpses, both shambling and otherwise. These can be problematic when driving, as I’m sure you remember from your own driving tests. The natural reaction will be to wait until nightfall before making your move. DO NOT DO THIS! At night, you will need to use headlights to avoid the dangers in the road. You will therefore be more obvious than a transvestite at a Klan rally. Drive during the day, you’ll be less noticeable.

And as for running over the zombies, well, check out the windscreen on this car after it hit a pedestrian.

Imagine hitting more than two zombies. The third one’s going to be sat in the car with you.

And then you’re lunch. And talking of cars…

A Decent Set Of Wheels

What are you driving? Something quick? A big V8, maybe the last of the V8s? Probably not a lot of use, considering the state of the roads in the post-apocalyptic world (roads in the pre-apocalyptic world aren’t all that great). One fire will fuck up the tarmac so much that a low-slung muscle car just isn’t going to cut it. You want something with four-wheel drive, something rugged, something easy to fix. Basically, you want one of these:


Proper motor!

There’s a reason that the British Army have been using this baby for about sixty years. And that reason is that it’s virtually unbreakable. The bodywork is made of solid hardness and the chassis is constructed from girders and stiff-upper-lippedness. It can be fixed in the field by squaddies with sticks and it can be converted to run on just about anything that will burn. It can also be fitted with riot protection really easily, which means you can actually drive through a bunch of zombies without being eaten. They may be noisy, thus attracting zombies to your location, but they are tough, and can protect you while you make your escape.

Have A Place To Go

There is no point in running if you’re just running away. You need to have somewhere to run to. Somewhere safe, but where is that? What constitutes ‘safe’ in world mostly populated with wandering, hungry corpses? According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, food, water and sleep are right at the bottom, with property and bodily security right above them. So you want a good, solid and well-defended base, right? Somewhere with just one way in, so it’s easy to barricade, right?


One way in is one way out, and if it’s crawling with zombies, you’re not getting out that way. You’re trapped inside. Still, as long as it’s safe, right? Wrong again. You’re surrounded by zombies. Sooner or later, you’re going to need to get out for more food. How long does it take for a zombie to starve to death? Or get bored and wander off, especially if it knows there are tasty people inside? Want to risk it?

Your best bet is to have a number of bolt-holes scattered about the countryside. Look at what you need. Food and water easily accessible, so a river or lake with plenty of life in is a good start (unless the fish are zombies – I don’t recall any literature dealing with undead trout, but keep your eyes open just in case). An independent power supply, such as a petrol driven generator or effective renewable energy sources are essential – how else will you practise zombie slaying on the Xbox? Farms are good, especially if they are built on reasonably open ground, as are nice, large and fertile islands; this gives you multiple escape routes and lots of land for growing food and raising livestock in the long-term. Open ground also allows excellent sight-lines for picking off the odd wandering zombie.

So, you’ve got a place to hide out, without hordes of zombies, with good sight-lines for…

Neca Eos Omnes…

Ok, I mentioned guns earlier. This is the bit that all true zombie fans are really interested in. What’s the point in having a world over-run by zombies if you aren’t going to spray their internal organs all over the place with fully automatic weaponry? So let’s just assume that you have the pick of any firearms that you could possibly want: which ones do you carry?

"We need to get bigger guns. Big fucking guns!"

We need to remember that, despite what video games would have us believe, one man cannot carry that much in the way of guns. A typical handgun weighs a couple of pounds, fully loaded. A submachine gun weighs in at around eight pounds. An assault rifle, twelve. Shotgun, seven. Add in a reasonable amount of ammunition for the guns and you’re talking between three and ten pounds per hundred rounds. A soldier may carry up to ninety pounds into combat, including water, first-aid kits, GPS, radios, a belt of ammo for a squad support weapon and so on. And they are trained to do it.

Go to a mirror and take a long, hard look at yourself. Reckon you could manage it?

Thought not. Realistically, an average person could probably carry a pistol and an assault rifle or auto-shotgun, plus enough ammo to be useful, for any extended period of time. Of course, you can load up the 4X4 with extra weaponry, but each additional gun is a couple of days worth of food or water that you don’t have room for.

While we’re on the subject, how good a shot are you? Do you practise often? And I’m not sure how much Time Crisis counts. The point is, headshots (the traditional method of dispatching the zombie menace) are tricky, especially in a high stress situation. The good news is that you don’t need to kill them. Blowing their legs off would allow you to get away too. Ok, so you’ll be leaving an extremely pissed off zombie lying around with no legs, just waiting for the next poor sap to stumble past, but fuck him! At least you’ll get away. Don’t waste time and ammo on fancy shots. Take out chunks of zombie with some massive tissue damage and simple engineering principles will do the rest. It can’t run after you if its femurs are shattered. Of course, if you’ve got a safe, elevated position and a sniper rifle, then knock yourself out!

Mum! I got an ouchie!

As I mentioned earlier, melee weapons are asking for trouble, but explosives of various types can be useful. Molotov cocktails, if you have a plentiful supply of petrol, will crisp a zombie up nicely, but leave the more tricky ones to the experts. Grenades are fairly simple to use, but hard to get hold of unless you’re in the military, and homemade explosives are just a cheap way to blow your own arms off.

Old school defensive structures are surprisingly useful against zombies, because they don’t have the sense to spot them. Pit traps, log falls, even mechanical bear traps can all be used to keep zombies away from your perimeter.

Who’s With You?

The final part of this article deals with the people around you. How do you decide who you band together with? The obvious answer goes hand in hand with the ‘planning’ suggestion earlier; figure out before the apocalypse who is going to be a useful addition to the team. Mechanical skills, medical skills, survival skills are all useful, and don’t forget someone who can make tinned food not taste like week-old arse. Once you have a good idea where you are going, you can figure out whose skills will be most useful to you. The temptation will be to save family members and other loved ones, but you may not have the luxury of compassion in the zombified world.

Unless they are plump and slow-moving, in which case you might want to take them along in case you need a distraction. Working in groups is a good idea, though. Safety in numbers isn’t just a cliché, it could save lives. Ideally, contact other potential survivor cells before the apocalypse and arrange to meet up at a secret location and form a super-commune, to help repopulate the world.

But remember to invite some members of the opposite sex…

18 responses to “Brraaiinns! Or How To Survive When The Zombies Arrive

  1. I love this blog! I must admit, I would secretly love a zombie apocalypse! I’m fascinated by zombies!
    Ofcourse I worry that I couldn’t survive a zombie apocalypse, but I’d give it my best shot!!

    My only query is, what happens when you don’t have fire arms and you can’t get hold of a fire arm? Living in Birmingham, I have no idea where I’d even look for a fire arm (although I assume if I raid a few houses on the wood, I may come up trumphs!)

    You’ve covered some really good points, and if there is a zombie apocalypse, its important for people to realise that by being bitten isn’t the only way people will change. If zombies can survive long periods without food, this apocalypse could last years, meaning even the strong willed amongst us could become mentally unbalanced and turn on other survivors. Its important to be ready for all situations, and realise its not just the zombies which could be a threat…

  2. oh my god i’m going to be a zombie faster than you can say “brains!!!!”

    Much as I’d love to think I’d be Sarah Connor or even Cherry Darling (who really has the surgical skills to graft a decent machine gun to my leg? Also my inside leg measurement is 27″, i’m guessing proper guns are way longer and you can’t run with one lef longer than the other), realistically I am 5ft and 52kg. I can barely lift my shopping bag, let alone a shot gun (though I’ve fired a rifle and am a good shot, though larger caliber weaponry would knock me over, as I found out in Conspiracy X).

    I smoke like a trooper, thereby forfeiting rule #1 of Zombieland – Cardio. I can’t drive either and I don’t think topping up Oyster and then heading for an underground system full of the undead is a particularly good idea. Brixton is also in a valley, so all the heavy zombies will probably fall straight into my road. At least I have a great head for heights, so i could go roofwards, but that would only take me again to the end of my terrace. At least I have a fire ladder so can escape this house if needs be (i’m on the third floor) and in my room I currently have a bokken style stick, a butterfly knife, a hammer and some tools, lots of torches, cereal bars, water, binoculars and lighters. Plus plenty of aerosols for homemade flamethrowers. Also I’m not squeamish about blood, gore or killing which is a bonus for a girl I think.

    But I can’t get out of Brixton, and I better think about going running, or learn to drive, if the zombie apocalypse hits……or i’m fucked.

    So I pledge this – when i’m a zombie i’m going straight to Westminster. I’m finding Cameron. I’m eating that motherfucker’s brains. A lot!


  3. You’ve covered pretty much the major areas. In case of something of that magnitude happens, the most important thing is to pay attention to small details to establish the behavior of the infection or the so called “Zombie Rules”. You might need a doctor to observe the mode of infection, infectivity rate, incubation period, symptoms, safe handling of bodies and body fluids …. Etc.

  4. hi there

    i got a few problems with wjhat you have suggested. i will try to explain below

    1, cars, the most ridiculous thing suggest ever. cars break down, cars make noise cars run out of fuel. petrol is going to be hard if not impossible to get hold of after a few weeks. and if you are drivign along every zombie in 5 miles is going to hear and wander of to see what the spam in a can is doing.

    i would suggest either a horse ( self fueling, easy to get up most terraibn, and worst case a source of food.

    push bikes. quiet, no fuel needed (apart from you), extra cardio exersize and if need bw you can pick it up if the terrain gets to bad. cant do that with a land rover.

    2, weapons

    a single shot carbine is the best option. you can pick up “deactivated” weapons from most antique shops and the information is out there on the internet t6o re activate them. single shot weapons make for ammo conservation and thus inhance your survivability.

    pistols are ok, but make sure, that you can hit with them.

    attach a silencer if you can, as the less noise the better. dont bother with nigthscopes or red dot sights and the batteries will run out and tthen you just have heavy add ons to the weapon that are useless.

    always have a long bladed knive or similar weapon as a close combat backup. the rules for this are as follows.
    a, can i dicapitate a zombie with it
    b, if not can i crush the skull with it.
    c, is it light and easy to carry.
    theres not point in carrying a 15 pound sledgehammer whenyou are bobbinds with it. a crowbar or similar weapon should be enough for your needs.

    make sure where you are going no one else is going. the less people about the better as theres less chance of being detected by either zobmies or roving mad max style gangs after the zombie infestation starts.

    any questions

    • We’ve had the push bike conversation before. Good idea to make less noise, but I’ll take protection over stealth any day. If you happen across a bunch of zombies in a land rover, you’ll probably be ok. On a push bike, you’ll probably be lunch. You will knacker yourself out.
      Plus, a land rover doubles up as a temporary safe house when you need to sleep. It allows for other people to come with you and take turns guarding each other. Far more sensible than a bike.

      As for a horse… “dangerous at both ends and uncomfortable in the middle”. Oh, and are you a blacksmith? I can change a tyre, not sure i’d manage a horseshoe!

      • thats fine then. you drive off in your zombie attraction device, and will potter off in the other driection. safe in the knoledge they are all following you 🙂

        and horses dient have shoes for years before hums came along. faily sure they dont need them all the time.

      • They need them if you want to ride them. That’s why they have them. Their hooves get damaged on road surfaces and can get infected quite easily. Plus there’s the whole grooming and healthcare issue. Are you a vet?

        And I’ll happily drive away from the SLOW MOVING zombies in my CAR! So what if they hear me? By the time they give chase, I’ll be gone. You won’t. How fast can you cycle? I’m asthmatic and overweight but I could just about maintain approximately 15 miles an hour on roads for any length of time, maybe half that off-road (and for nowhere near as long). Plus all the gear you’ll need to carry will slow you down. You’ll need to stay near towns or cities because you won’t be able to carry enough survival gear.

        Bottom line? You are a zombie’s supper!

  5. I loved ‘beloved family members zombing out in the back seat of the Zafira’.

    I think I would prefer the option of a boat on a reasonably deep river. Acts as a mobile safehouse and food and water (with filtering) is readily available.

    • Yeah, boats are good. I’d suggest open water – natural harbours or river mouths. Plenty of fish if you can catch them. Easy enough to move up and down the coast to scavenge as well.

      • as long as you are out of the depth of the sea bed. nothgin worse than you boat being tipped over by the ravening hordes.

        zombie dont need air remember

  6. why will i need to stay near town and cities, i would have scoped out the terrain, made sue i knew my escape routs (and backups). got kit spread out along the way, sorted out the defenses, made sure i knew where i was going and get my hold up place ready way befroe it ever got to a stage four infestation. as soon as it hit a stage 2 i would be preparing and getting ready. making sure the people in my group were prepared and ready and gearing up for abandioning civilisation.

    and yeah you can go faster in a car (with zombies following you), just when you crash you are stuck and waiting for the hordes to get to you. where as they shuoldnt hear me and lets be honest i dont need to ride at 20 miles an hour, just enough to get past the shambling horde( i am talking classic zombies) not crappy zoombies that are the standard fare of all decent zombie films now or infected (like in 28 days later)

    worst case cenario i am stuck in the top floor of a house with no stairs, i got rid of them (zombies cant fly or climb last time i checked) with enough water and dry food for a few weeks, waitign for the multitudes to disperse, them quietly make my escape

    • If the zombies attacked tomorrow, would you have supplied stashed?

      And oh no! The zombies are following me. At shambling pace. While I’m in my CAR! As long as I drive carefully, I shouldn’t crash.

      I reckon we’d be alright for a while. Long distance communications would be problematic. Not sure how long mobile phone systems and broadcast systems would stay active. Probably long enough to meet up somewhere!

      • signals not the problem, its battery power. and lets be honest, when it happens we would have the route planned and the hold up place already stashed and protected. we have a tony rememebr

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