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Surviving a Zombie Outbreak

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posted on Dec, 15 2006 @ 01:45 PM
A zombie outbreak is an example of a "Wargames/Theoretical" Situation X that has received more and more scrutiny over the last few decades. Though the majority of the media produced regarding zombies is for entertainment purposes only, increasingly more people are beginning to wonder "How would I survive a zombie infestation?"

Here is little CGI animation I made to demonstrate the various classes of outbreaks, as a prelude to Max Brook's World War Z. But what of hard, factual knowledge to get by on?

This thread will explore the options available to those who actually wish to take a serious look at the possibility of a zombie outbreak, and how one could survive it. However, before I get too far into this, I must give complete and total props to Max Brooks for his book The Zombie Survival Guide, which, though sold in the comedy section of the book stores, and deals with theoretical subject matter, is an excellent survival guide. Much of what will be posted by me in this thread is in regards to his book.

Know Your Enemy

First off, this thread does not deal with Haitian Zombies. We are instead focusing on the undead variety that one might see in any of Romero's movies or popular video game culture. Though there are variants of zombie descriptions among all the popular media, the general consensus appears to be thus:

  • Zombies have very infectuous bodily fluids.
  • Zombies do not breathe.
  • Zombies feel no pain.
  • Zombies lack the ability to use items (tools, weapons, door handles, etc).
  • Zombies are emotionless.
  • Zombies can only be "killed" by destroying the brain.
  • Zombies are not susceptable to "holy items" or "prayer".
  • Zombies will alert other zombies through their moans and wails.
  • Zombies do not heal.
  • Zombies are poor climbers.
  • Zombies are relatively slow due to poor muscle coordination.
  • Zombies do not appear to use their circulatory system.
  • Zombies appear to repulse almost all living creatures (including bacteria).
  • Zombies never fear.

    Learn to Kill Them Efficiently

    Of course, everyone "knows" all you have to do to stop a zombie is destroy its brain. This is a lot easier said than done. The skull is extremely thick, slightly flexible, and able to ward off blows quite well. Since zombies need neither blood nor oxygen to continue surviving, a decaptitated zombie head is just as big a threat if any unprotected skin is in range of the teeth. While a stick or aluminum bat might kill or knock a normal human unconscious with a blow to the skull, Zombies are not nearly so frail. While a bat may serve to unbalance a Zombie temporarily, unless you have arms like barrels, it's not going to penetrate the skull, and thus will only serve to get the zombie's attention.

    Additionally, you will almost certainly be faced with more than one zombie at a time, and they won't wait their turn to attack. If your weapon requires a lot of space, or takes a long time between attacks, you will simply be overrun. And when attacking over and over, your weapon will, unless very well made, soon become unusable.

    In short, you need a weapon that is durable quick to easy to use, weighted to penetrate the skull (or decapitate) and has a short recovery time between attacks.

    While Max Brooks recommends the Shaolin Spade and the trench spike, these are probably not going to be easily findable to the common person. What I instead recommend, in lieu of these weapons, are: pick hammers, crowbars, hand-hatchets, machette, lawnmower blades, and ice-picks.

    The Problem With Guns

    Ask anyone off the street what the best weapon is to use against zombies and 9/10 times they will say "a shotgun". However, there's a few real big problems with guns, and especially shotguns.

  • They're loud, and will alert every zombie for miles to your presence.
  • They require ammunition.
  • They require reloading.
  • Every shot must be a successful headshot (much harder than it sounds).
  • They can jam, or otherwise break.

    Further, shotguns might not even hit, much less, penetrate the skull, unless a slug is used in lieu of shot.

    For those that would like to give the "silencer" example, I submit to you the fact that silencers don't work like they do in the movie, and a silenced gun still produces about 50dB of sound, which can be heard from 500 ft away on a quiet street.

    However, rifles can provide a great method of taking out zombies at a distance if one can remain out of their reach. A disciplined amatuer marksman could take out thousands of zombies, provided they had enough ammunition, were out of reach of the zombies, and kept aiming for the head.

    Pistols are really only good as a backup weapon or a suicide weapon in the event you or another mate are bitten.

    Fight On Your Terms

    Only a bloody idiot would charge zombies on their level and try to take them out like Conan or Arnold. If you have to get from Point A to Point B, and there's thousands of zombies in the way, your best bet is to sneak past them. If you are discovered, then run. Zombies (probably) lack the muscular balance and coordination neccessary to run, and further, their muscles will deteriorate with use and not be healed (which is what makes us living humans stronger). Meaning zombies are actively destroying themselves merely by walking around. They are, however, hopelessly fixated, walking in more or less a straight line when shuffling after their prey.

    Therefore, learn to use the landscape.

    Zombies can easily be "herded", the problem is to avoid being surrounded. Learn to use elevation to its maximum advantage. Rivers and oceans might slow zombies down, but considering they don't need air, and fish won't eat them, they might just wander along the bottom of the body of water till they walk right back up on the other side. Zombies will freeze a lot faster than humans will because of their almost total lack of body heat, but come spring, they will thaw out and start walking again.

    If, however, you must cross through a number of zombies to get to Point B, and stealth is not an option, your best bet is to act just like a running-back at the superbowl who just caught a touchdown. Run. Don't stop and fight unless you're grabbed, and even then, fight only log enough to get free, and run some more. As long as you don't have long hair or loose clothing, and you keep on the move, it will be difficult for a zombie to grab hold of you with its decreased muscular coordination. Do not, however, underestimate the power of a solid wall of people several people deep. In that case, it's time to use tactics.

    Fire is a Bad Idea

    The other favorite weapon among those I've asked is the flamethrower. The question aside of where the hell someone will find a weapon (and ammo) that hasn't seen service since 1978, setting zombies on fire is a universally BAD IDEA. For one, zombies aren't paper, they're more like rotten meat, so you'll have to find some sort of flammable medium to coat them with, and then wait for the skin to eventually catch fire, and, assuming it does, the zombie will STILL not be phased as it continues to merrily walk towards you, feeling no pain, and able to use its muscles until they are finally literally burned from the tendons, which can take several minutes or hours depending on the heat of the fire. In a best case scenario, you are now facing an opponent that can not only bite you, but can also burn you. In a worst case scenario, you have just set your shelter and/or the surrounding area on fire with a walking, moaning torch.

    (more to come...)

  • posted on Dec, 15 2006 @ 02:06 PM
    Roofs are your friend, zombies cannot climb unless there is a heaping stack of bodies with which to climb. In my area I have a distinct advantage, MESAS, and most of the ones around me are shear cliffs all the way around, you can get up, but they cannot.
    Those who would use a truck to run them over, you will not make it past the third zombie before your truck comes to a complete halt since the front end is completely bashed in. Humans, abeit dead ones, are not as frail as some would think, ever seen what happens when someone hits a deer? That is what would happen to you. If you DID want to run zombies over, GET A TANK! Full throttle, roll em out and plow your way down the street, a tank is about the only thing that would help you.
    Body armor, key, at least keep your chest and head protected.
    Here is one thing that no one has mentioned anywhere: What about birds, bats, and other flying animals and insects? Would they not be suseptible to the disease? If so, forget living, just dig a hole, shoot yourself and be done with it!
    Any AIR breakout that did not kill people outright would remain in the system, thus PRAY it is an experiment gone wrong, one zombie only, non-airborn, zombie bites human, 2 zombies, 2 bite 2, 4 zombies and so on. Then pray the base is deep underground and is never re-opened...


    posted on Dec, 15 2006 @ 07:58 PM
    Nice animation.

    My $0.02... Take shelter in a multifloor building and tear down the stairs. And fortunately the faster moving ones will break down quicker, leaving the slower ones which could keep moving for months or maybe years. If you can wait long enough, they should all eventually die.

    posted on Dec, 15 2006 @ 09:45 PM
    Some ideas:

    A pistol with hollow point bullets.
    Might do enough head damage to keep the brain from sending commands to the body. In a leg wound high up, or a lower abdomen shot, might incapacitate the zombie.

    Some kind of weapon that could tangle their legs and buy you a bit of time. Similar options might be some kind of immobilizing foam that police departments have been experimenting with.

    A net
    Again, I'm thinking of immobilizing zombies. One of my concerns is bloodspatter, especially from head shots. It seems that gore readily spreads "that zombie taint."

    some kind of spear gun
    That you could use to basically "staple" the zombie to its immediate environment.

    some kind of mold spore
    This might help hasten the decay of dead flesh, when sprayed on the zombies.

    a firetruck, tanks filled with specially treated water.
    The idea here would be to drive through zombie infested areas, and giving them a whiff of human scent to draw them out. Once they are in pursuit, hit them with a water cannon. Moisture speeds the decay of rotting meat. They make a packet of enzymes you are supposed to flush down the toilet if your septic tank isn't working. the enzymes promote the growth of bacteria that decompose organic matter . . . put some of this in the water tanks of the firetruck, and spray the zombies with that

    trained attack vultures
    they love carrion, right?

    some sort of maggot-launcher
    that spews maggots onto the zombies. Rotting flesh would attract flies, and expedite the putrescence. But that smell . . .

    Also, I think barbed wire could be usefull in establishing a perimeter. Assuming that zombies cannot feel pain, they would degrade their bodies, and get hung up and damage themselves further with their idiotic flailing about.


    [edit on 15-12-2006 by dr_strangecraft]

    posted on Dec, 15 2006 @ 10:06 PM
    I'm sorry, but I think zombies deserve their rights just like everyone else.

    posted on Dec, 15 2006 @ 10:13 PM
    Like a shark cage, that divers take refuge in.

    A cage big enough the zombies couldn't reach you, but with mesh so you could shoot the zombies.

    Might work well, until you got some spatter & gore on ya.


    posted on Dec, 15 2006 @ 10:50 PM
    Shawn of the Dead is a good handbook to learn by.

    The rule of a barricade in the mall may work but that is a butt load of area to guard. perhaps an electric fence could be rigged through the security gates.
    Walling up at the pub works for the short term unless they have a kitchen, then it becomes HQ.

    Target practice from a rooftop with a 30-06 can pass the time.
    An assault rifle on full auto could cut a swath wide enough to retreat to a better place if you needed to change positions or cause a distraction.

    If surrounded a combo of a molotov and assault rifle will keep your perimeter until you are rescued.

    last resort, save a round for yourself so you wont become one.

    posted on Dec, 19 2006 @ 11:24 AM
    Continuing on where I left off (and thank you all for the contributions so far)


    The biggest enemy to a potential survivor in any Situation X is fear and lack of forethought. Especially in the case of something like a zombie outbreak, the fear factor and the lure of madness is going to be extremely strong. However, if you remain calm, and realize that zombies really have only one tactic (tenaciously shuffling towards you trying to eat you), you can use this to your advantage.


    The second biggest enemy to a potential survivor is hubris, or, the tragic flaw of pride. If you are to live through a zombie outbreak, you need to realie that anyone can kill a zombie. Even a five year old child can, given the right tools and position, kill a zombie. The problem is never with one zombie. It is with dozens, hundreds, thousands, or even millions of zombies. Even the strongest, butchest, toughest son of a gun to walk the Earth is going to become fatigued, slow down, and suffer injuries as the body count piles up. The vast majority of average people will probably be worn out after about ten zombies, tops, in hand to hand combat.

    The Rules

    Every tactic you use is going to be improvised based on the weapons at your disposal (or lack thereof), the environment, and the number of zombies to be avoided or eliminated. Every engagement, however, is generally going to follow the same ruleset:

  • Zombies will moan and wail when prey is spotted, and advance towards it.

  • Zombies alert each other by their moans, and their moans can sometimes be heard for miles if the wind is right.

  • Zombies travel in a straight line towards their prey, without regard to height, distance, or obstacles.

  • Zombies will not stop. Ever. They do not sleep, they don't take breaks, they don't get tired, they don't feel pain, the same zombie pounding on your door right now will continue to pound on it, day and night, without stopping, until either the door is broken through, or until the zombie's musculature has been completely destroyed through use (which can take years).

  • A zombie without legs isn't stopped, it's just harder to spot. "Crawlers" will present some of the greatest hazards in overgrown areas like fields and forests because they can remain so well hidden.

  • Fighting zombies with fire is almost always a very bad idea.

  • Zombies have zero fear, zero regard for personal safety, and will continue marching towards you even as you inflict damage on them, until they are destroyed.

  • Zombies will re-animate when thawed out.

    Holding to these rules, any number of intelligent strategies can be implemented by a mobile group of creative individuals.


    As has been previously mentioned, if you have a firearm and plentiful ammo, height is your biggest advantage. Just remember that it will also call EVERY zombie in earshot towards you unless they have other prey closer, and since zombies will begin moaning as soon as they detect prey, it will alert other zombies, who will begin moaning as well, etc. Potentially, especially in a Class 3 or greater situation, you could be calling thousands, if not millions of zombies towards you with a single shot. So be prepared for the worst, have a clear plan.

    Always aim for the head. Always. While you might not always hit, you'll get better with practice, and shooting them anywhere else does no good at all. When firing with large assault weapons, such as the M-60, aim at shoulder level, and spray in a left-to-right-to-left arc, fanning back and forth. The spread and horrible accuracy will probably have a bullet to kill ratio of 1000 to 1, but it is the only way this weapon will do you any good at all.

    Unlike humans, with zombies, if you shoot them anywhere but the head, it is a useless shot. Even a bullet penetrating the spine might still leave you with a crawler.

    A brilliant mop-up tactic that was suggested by Brooks was to have three shooters laying down in the back of a pickup-truck with the tailgate down. Armed with lots of ammo and .22 rifles (the most accurate, least likely to jam, and most likely to penetrate the skull only once, thus swiss-cheezing the brain as it bounces around inside). The driver would keep a slow, slightly faster than walking-pace speed. Both the driver and the passenger-seat would be armed with 12-gauges to clear away zombies that got too close to the sides or front of the pickup. The idea is to herd the zombies into following the pickup truck around, and let the riflemen in the back pick them off, slowly and methodically. If too many zombies end up in pursuit, the truck provides at least a modicum of getaway and can travel offroad. Ideally this would take place in a large open space such as a field or a parking lot.


    On a 1 vs 1 situation, you always have the advantage against zombies. However, as I previously mentioned, when Zombies are a big enough threat to worry about survival, it's no longer a 1 vs 1 situation. It's 1 vs. a lot.

    Make no mistake. You are not a god. This is not a video game, and you will get very tired from using a melee weapon against multiple opponents very quickly. Since zombies have zero consideration for their own safety, a group will think absolutely nothing of surrounding you, advancing on you, and completley leave themselves open to attack. Why? Because all any of them want is to grab ahold of you and bite you. This means that the conventional methods of parry, thrust, etc, are almost completely moot. Your opponent is no longer an intelligent enemy that will try to preserve itself, through parry and dodge, it will simply allow you to stab it to get your hand in range. If you knock a zombie to the ground, it just means they're more likely to try and bite your leg.

    What then? You still have to penetrate the skull, and lots of weapons will "stick".

    First, a thrusting weapon is going to be your best bet. Stab into the eye socket, the temple, or up through the throat, twist, pull out. Try to hit with enough force that it will knock the zombie backward, which may or may not buy you enough time to stab the next one in the brain. Bludgeoning weapons (such as bats) require way too much force, and leave you extremely vulnerable during the attack. Slashing weapons (such as swords) are more likely to get stuck in the skull, as well as spray fluids everywhere (which are infectious). Piercing weapons, however, provide the quickest attack, the most immediate trauma, and require the least amount of effective force. A long-spiked cestus would be the idea close-combat zombie fighting weapon as it provides protection to the hand as well as easily direced stabbing force. However, considering how few places are making functional cestus nowadays, an ice pick, bastard file, or other thick, sharp spike, will serve well.

    Don't use shields. Shields would work great if you were fighting someone using a weapon who cared about taking damage. To a zombie, it's just another handhold. It's far better to keep two weapons, keep your long range weapon (such as a machete or crowbar) in your dominant hand, and the spike in your other hand.

    Try to spin, turn, or otherwise push the zombies away from you after your attack. If you missed the vital area of the brain, or if the zombie continues chomping out of nerve-impulse reflex after being destroyed, it's better that it do this AWAY from you, where your foot isn't likely to be a target.

    Keep armored in the areas likely to be bitten. Wear leather work gloves on your hands if at all possible. A leather jacket will provide a good, light layer of bite protection, but keep it mind it needs to be buttoned/zipped shut so as not to provide a nice open target to grab ahold of. A leather collar around your neck might just save your life. Long boots that protect the ankles and calves will help against crawlers. Knee and elbow pads will help keep your own bones and tendons a bit less likely to suddenly give out on you if you hit them wrong.

    (more to come)

  • posted on Dec, 19 2006 @ 05:15 PM
    If you were to say use the butt of your rifle to knock a zombie's teeth down his throat, would he be rendered harmless?

    Sort of like 'you can catch more flies with sugar than vinegar, but if you pull their little wings off, they eat what you give them'.

    I mean if their primary weapon is biting, how bad can they be w/o teeth? No worse than your demented grandfather.

    posted on Dec, 19 2006 @ 10:27 PM
    You've obviously never met my grandfather.

    He could eat an entire schnitzel mit de spaetzl, toothless. Pickles, even entire small cabbages were no match for his gaping maw.

    Again, you've got bloodspatter problems. A drop on you, and you're at risk.

    But it's not one zomb that's the problem. It's the zombarmy that will come to the sounds of your struggle.

    It'll be dark soon. . . . we'd better get moving; they'll pick up our trail before long.

    posted on Dec, 19 2006 @ 10:31 PM
    I wonder what the ACLU's stance would be on killing zombies.
    It's not so much 'killing' per se as it is destroying the brain, but then again there are groups against that as well.

    brb, there is a moaning noise coming from outside.

    posted on Dec, 19 2006 @ 11:47 PM
    How about some personal protective armor like a mix of biker leather/bmx plastic armor.. with a full head/neck helmet. I was also thinking of those puncture proof chainmail suits people use for shark encounters.

    Weapon wise, what about those crowd control measures.. like the epoxy foam projector..that woudl really slow them down/buy some time.

    posted on Dec, 20 2006 @ 12:39 AM

    Originally posted by Werecamelouttogetu
    How about some personal protective armor like a mix of biker leather/bmx plastic armor.. with a full head/neck helmet.

    Good idea as long as you make sur there is no openings that salivia can get into.

    I was also thinking of those puncture proof chainmail suits people use for shark encounters.

    Even better but same as above. Remember thow that zombies dont feel pain so they dont know when to stop biting. If they bite down and dont taste flesh they will keep biting harder and harder. They may not be able to bite thru the chain mail but human bones break, as sharks have proven.

    Weapon wise, what about those crowd control measures.. like the epoxy foam projector..that woudl really slow them down/buy some time.

    Best idea yet.
    I have a favorite author about zombies whos books I would like to get but cant afford at the moment. The authors name is david moody the web site is
    You must download autumn if you like zombie stories the first in hgis zombie series.

    [edit on 20-12-2006 by angryamerican]

    posted on Dec, 20 2006 @ 02:51 AM
    Get a Glaive.

    and don't forget your ninja suit and goggles

    posted on Dec, 20 2006 @ 02:57 AM
    Set up several synchronized research headquarters to develop a cure or antidote for early infections would be wise than to hurtfully leave your loved ones to death. Hope is the last means of defense to achieve a successful victory..


    posted on Dec, 21 2006 @ 02:58 PM
    To put it not so bluntly...

    Pretend that you just lit the fuse on a cheap Chinese firecracker the size of a dog house.

    Mobility is the biggest advantage we have over the undead. We have to use and abuse it as much as possible, including the use of traps (pits come immediately to mind) in order to snare and destroy as many of the undead as possible. Further, don't get Rambo syndrome. That just wastes ammo and lives.


    posted on Dec, 21 2006 @ 08:01 PM
    Here's a different take on the zombie threat. The site claims that zombies have some social organization . . . which doesn't fit in with what i've seen elsewhere.

    But it does point out that knocking the teeth out of a zombie with a baseball bat or rifle butt is a waste of time, since the zombie will merely clamp down until it's jawbone breaks through its own flesh.

    The Federal Vampire & Zombie Agency

    the important info is at the

    Bureau of Zombie Management

    What are the dogs barking at, out in the yard ???

    Back in a minute . . .

    posted on Dec, 21 2006 @ 08:58 PM
    How about large quantities of cow's blood to lure them into a giant pit.
    Maybe rig a trap door that is weight sensitive above it, or one with detonation charges beneath on remote.

    Would burning them stop the virus or would it become airborne?
    Gotta go, THE DAY AFTER IS ON. Great movie from the 80's.

    posted on Dec, 21 2006 @ 09:29 PM
    S'posedly, zombies are not attracted to animals as food. So animal blood wouldn't be effective bait.

    You have to use humans as bait. That's part of the horror of it all.

    I was thinking that the zombie virus might be sought after by various national governments and terrorists as a biological warfare tactic.

    Think about it. A solitary zombie in a city, who breaks into a house and injures several inhabitants before being put down. What do the first responders do? The cops take the zombie body to the morgue, to be dissected by scientists, while the injured are taken to the local emergency room. There, they appear to die, and are taken to the morgue. Hours later, they rise up, to find a skyscraper of sick humans and visiting humans to serve as brain-food.

    That's why it'd be a great terror weapon. The zombie virus would be spread primarily to first responders like fire, ambulance, and EMS; while the next round of infectees will be medical staff and scientists---any society's primary defense against disease and attack.

    posted on Dec, 22 2006 @ 04:57 AM
    Well some kind of chemical response to Zombies has yet to be mentioned. The biggest problem would be ensuring that the chemical mixture reaches a zombies brain the answer may lay with the way zombies would let there bodily fluids out.

    Once humans are equipped with gas masks a chemical response could be launched from anything shells to home made weapons.

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