Picture it: The zombies apocalypse is upon us. Peoples are swarming the streets, panicking, and by all accounts making things even worse. In a situation like this, knowing what to do is only as valuable as knowing what not to do. So here is a list that might help: seven surefire ways to get yourself killed during a zombie outbreak.
1. When things get too bad, get on the highway and drive to safety
Let’s think about why this sounds like such a good idea on paper. When the zombie apocalypse occurs, every human being becomes a potential zombie, and every city a potential nightmarish hell. The best thing we, as survivors, could do, would be to get out of there, right? Hit the highway, and make a break for a more secluded area with a lesser risk of the zombie horde crashing the party? Well yes, and no. It’s true that if you are privileged enough to have seen the outbreak coming — say, if you were one of the scientists who caused it (and shame on you) — getting out of dodge might be the best course of action.
If you’re like the rest of us, who get all of our news either on television or as it trickles slowly through the grapevine, this might be the worst thing you could possibly do. Consider how congested traffic becomes every day during rush hour. That traffic is caused simply by workers leaving their nine-to-five office jobs. Try imagining an entire city attempting to evacuate. Not only would there be a frightening number of cars backing up the traffic, it would only take a few drivers being pulled from their cars, or being infected at the wheel to halt the movement of every car behind them completely. Read: Death trap.
2. Head to the nearest mall for supplies
We’ve probably all seen Dawn of the Dead. It’s probably the most famous zombie movie of all time. This movie, along with video games like Dead Rising, enforce a dangerous myth: that a shopping mall would be an ideal place to hold down in during a zombie outbreak. The logistics behind this make sense. A mall not only contains food and water, but many luxury items that might make surviving more bearable. If you’re living in a particularly red state, there might even be a weapons and ammunition shop. So what is the problem here? Dawn of the Dead was released in 1978, well before zombies ever gained a foot hold in pop culture.
What this means is that although taking shelter in a mall was a solid move by the characters in the film, today, the idea that a shopping mall would be an ideal sanctuary is too deep-rooted in society’s beliefs. And while a mall may be a relatively safe place to seek refuge against the undead, it’s not going to keep out the mobs of desperate people seeking their own safety; and once the mall is breached, it’s sure to fall. Besides, in all likelihood you wouldn’t be the first to get there anyway, leaving you stuck in the parking lot.
3. Use a sword, machete, or meat cleaver regularly in order to conserve ammo
There’s something to be said about the usefulness of a good melee weapon. Ammo, which might be in limited supply, is required for firearms; plus, guns can be noisy. The last thing you want is to gun down an undead pursuer at the expense of attracting the entire horde. What type of melee weapon is best equipped to cut down the Zeke though? Choosing the one that’s best for you is a topic that goes far beyond the scope of this essay, so I’ll leave that for another day. Something that needs to be addressed, however, is that swords, machetes and meat cleavers all have a dangerous drawback that few of us remember to take into consideration. That is, they do not last forever.
There are enough samurai movies and ninja video games around that attempt to convince us that katanas are sharp as diamond, and that they stay the way, impervious to damage. And hey, butchers seem to do a swell job of carving through flesh with their blades, right? Well, the fact of the matter is, zombies are more than piles of rotting flesh and meat. They also have bones. Pop quiz: How many times can you slice through bone with the same blade before it dulls considerably? Pencils down; the answer is: not a whole lot. Making use of the same blade for an extended period of time, without careful maintenance, is more dangerous to you as a user than it will be to the Z.
4. Don’t succumb to hormones or emotion
Have you ever noticed that in nearly every zombie scenario, there’s always one character (usually a guy), who attempts to capitalize on the ongoing apocalypse by taking advantage of girls and women? Usually, this character receives his comeuppance by the end of the story. Inevitably, they end up going a bit too far in attempt to fulfill their desires, and they get themselves killed. The fact that they end up dead has little to do with their karma though, and a lot to do with their stupidity. Most of us take pride in the fact that we are not villainous like these characters. What we fail to realize is that trying to save someone just because we like them, is just as likely to get us killed. While arming the hummer, and making a daring rescue to that intern you’ve been eyeing might seem romantic, it’s a stupid move; even if it would almost certainly get you the girl.
A related trope that keeps creeping up in the zombie movies involves one of the characters becoming infected. We see it coming a mile away, and we always know exactly how it will play out. The guy with a gun will point it at them, only to have another character shout “No! You can’t!” before attempting to make a case against the killing. The cases are never logical. These people become irrational due to their emotions getting the best of them. It’s hard to blame them; how many of us would be able to kill a friend or a family member without having second thoughts? Being able to dispel those thoughts is important though, because succumbing to them is a surefire way to end up just like your loved one: infected.
5. Try to be an action hero
Some of us have played a bit too many video games, and have come to the erroneous conclusion that: hey, it might actually be a lot of fun to go out there and become a zombie slayer. Some of society’s less-grounded individuals may actually prove to take joy in this activity, but very few of them will actually be any good at it. Think about action movies, and what makes the heroes so tough. Think about what gives them the ability to cheat death — to walk through fire and come out unscathed on the other side. It’s not their biceps, or their six-pack abs, or their tough-as-nails demeanor. It’s the fact that movies are scripted, and the stunts are carefully choreographed. In a zombie outbreak, the best zombie killers might be able to kill hundreds, thousands of zombies, even tens of thousands if they are particularly motivated. But Zeke’s numbers are unfathomable, and the odds are stacked high against these would-be-heroes. The longer they stay out on the battlefield, the less likely they are to come up. Remember, all it takes is one bite.
6. Hold yourself up without enough food
So you won’t be an action hero — that’s good. You’ll just board up all the windows, hold yourself up in your basement and wait out the apocalypse. Well, there’s merit to this strategy, but have you asked yourself how much food you have, and how long it will last? If you’re like most families, you go shopping between two and four times every month. That means that your food supply will only last a few weeks. Are you willing to make a gamble, and count on the zombies being completely wiped out that quickly? It’s possible, but it seems rather unlikely. Sooner or later, it will become necessary to leave the safe house in search of food. And what if when you open the door, there is nothing but zombies as far as the eye can see? That spells game over. In a best case scenario, a home would be stocked with enough of an emergency supply of goods to last at least several months (in fact, a good idea that helps to prepare for any emergency.) If this is an impossibility, it would be best to vigilantly monitor the situation outside. If you’re going to have to abandon your home, it would be best to get packing before it becomes impossible to do so.
7. Hold the belief that people are inherently good
Confucius felt that people are born good, and that being good is what comes natural to all of us. The thing is, when Confucius said that, he was not surrounded by masses of the undead. When people become desperate they tend to do very bad things, as has been proven repeatedly throughout history. In the face of zombie Armageddon, the absolute worst in people would be brought out. So while optimists and philanthropists may want to go out of their way to help others who are in need (see “Don’t succumb to hormones or emotion”), they should be reminded that these people will not necessarily do the same for them. Remember, in the midst of the zombie outbreak where nothing is as important as food or water, with arms and ammunition a close second. All of these items will be in limited supply. Can you really afford to trust the survivor that you just rescued, who looks like he hasn’t eaten in three days? The answer is “no.” Though you probably should not have rescued this hypothetical survivor in the first place.
And that concludes this list of seven ways not to survive the zombie apocalypse. Remember, be cautious, be vigilant, and stay strong.