The first book I wrote was The Ultimate Guide to Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse. I wrote it under the pseudonym F. Kim O’Neill, because I thought that survival skills and zombie-killing techniques would be more credible if they came from a fictional military veteran than a real-life goofball like myself. Despite my past and present goofball status, my book is still the most realistic primer available on surviving a Zombie Apocalypse, bar none.
Since the book was published in December 2010, I’ve written some shorter pieces on zombie apocalypse survival skills. What follows is a rewrite of an earlier piece.
Zombie Redoubts on the Go
In The Ultimate Guide to Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse, I described methods to turn your house or apartment into a Zombie Redoubt: a place of refuge that can be readily defended during a Zombie Apocalypse. If, for whatever reason, you can’t or won’t take those steps to make your home more zombie-resistant (almost no place on Earth is completely zombie-proof), then you will want to read on. Even if you have stocked up your Zombie Redoubt with weapons, supplies, and water, the longer you stay in one place, the more likely it is that you’ll meet wandering, hungry undead. Every fight can be your last, be it from bad luck, a jammed gun, or an overwhelming number of enemies. Eventually you’re going to have to move out of your Zombie Redoubt and find a new place to live.
Whether you’re looking for a place to sleep for the night or a home for a few weeks, identifying a suitable Zombie Redoubt on the go should include the following factors:
- That Prius May Save the Environment, but It Won’t Save Your Life: If you use an abandoned car as a temporary hotel and are surprised by zombies, you’re in a very bad position. Inside an automobile there’s little room to dodge attacks or access a weapon (let alone swing one), and the entire top half of the thing is made out of glass that a determined undead attacker will eventually break. You’re also very easily surrounded in a car, and it can be extremely difficult to get out of one in a hurry.
- More Than One Exit: Any place you go into should have at least two means of egress: the one you entered and one other that leads to a ground floor exit. If you’re running from zombies and lock yourself into a structure that only has one exit, you’re just delaying the inevitable. Sooner or later you’re going to have to get out and deal with the problem that brought you there in the first place. Of course, you can’t always immediately tell if the building you plan to hole up in has a second way out, so before you commit to staying for any length of time, do a thorough sweep of the first floor and test any exits you might see: that back fire door may be locked or rusted shut.
- The Visible Man: Places like libraries, schools, supermarkets, convenience stores, and other retail establishments may have things like free food, water, and books, but they also have very large windows and glass fronts. This glass may be zombie-proof, but it also provides both living and undead enemies with an unobstructed view of the interior of the building. If zombies see you in there, they will never leave. Sure, you can try to block all the windows, but with what? Will it block all light? Did you leave yourself enough peepholes to see what’s going on outside? Use these kinds of places as resupply stops and very temporary shelters, not homes.
- Knock Knock, Who’s There: Depending on the size of the structure you’ve entered, you will want to make certain that you’re alone in it. If it’s an office building, secure all ground floor methods of entry or egress to keep upstairs tenants from sneaking up on you. Just because the building doesn’t have power, it doesn’t mean you can’t be surprised by undead in the elevator shaft, for example. If it’s a house or smaller structure, go room to room on a search for enemies before relaxing. During the Zombie Apocalypse most surprises you’ll experience will turn out to be nasty ones, not birthday parties. Minimize the chances of being surprised.
- Squatter’s Rights: Be prepared to face down other scavenging humans in your quest for shelter, but unless your intent is to kill everyone you see, you may want to avoid places that show obvious signs of habitation. If you’ve managed to survive the first few weeks of the Zombie Apocalypse, you’re a tougher customer than you used to be. The problem is, so is everyone else. You don’t know what that scruffy-looking guy and his wall-eyed girlfriend in the abandoned 7-11 had to go through to survive. With thousands of hungry undead seeking your brains, do you really want to fight everybody? There’s probably a suitable place to crash down the street.
Practice assessing places as Zombie Redoubts on the go before the Zombie Apocalypse. Take a casual look around the next time you’re in an unfamiliar building. Identify the exits, check out how much glass is out front, and give it a general look-see. Imagine yourself having to sleep there with minimal creature comforts. You’ll be surprised at what you discover.