Surviving the Zombiepocalypse: Your Guide to Defeating the Living Dead


By Billy Butler, Chris Long & Benjy Elkind

Packing Your Emergency Bag:

When the zombiepocalypse comes, you will need to be self-sufficient. Expect government agencies to be slow in their response because of the large scope of the inherent problem that goes along with the dead rising up to walk the earth. Zombie Squad says, “We can’t simply rely on improving our government ability to respond. There is only so much they are physically able to do.”

Pack an emergency bag, sometimes referred to as a bug-out bag. For natural disasters, the Red Cross recommends a bag that contains supplies that will last you at least 72 hours. One gallon of water per day is standard, but you’ll probably need more than that because, after all, running from zombies all day can work up a sweat. Another essential is nonperishable, easy-to-prepare food items, and anything that can keep you energized while on the move is great. Energy bars of any kind would do the job. Bring a lightweight bedroll for the nights you spend outdoors, but whatever you do don’t weigh yourself down with a 5-pound TempurPedic pillow. Also bring a blanket for warmth and a few changes of thick clothes, even a raincoat depending on the season. A well-stocked first aid kit is important and should be able to handle anything from light scratches to deep lacerations, just remember that no matter how many Band-Aids you bring you’re not going to un-zombify yourself.

As Zombie Squad says, “There is no known cure for a zombie bite. Reason #548 to put a great deal of distance between yourself and the undead.” You’ll want to know where you’re going if it gets dark or if you have to enter a dark place like an abandoned building, so a good flashlight with extra batteries is an essential. Equally important is a hand-crank radio: if any radio stations are still broadcasting, there’s a chance you’ll be able to pick them up and gather any information you can. Just don’t believe them if they say they know the location of a “military evacuation point,” because as anyone who has seen a few zombie flicks before knows, that’s where dozens of ruthless, hazmat suit-clad bad guys with flamethrowers like to hang out and set up quarantine.

Your bag should be easy to run with, so don’t pack for a cross-country trip. Zombie Squad says, “Anything that is not necessary for daily survival should be pitched. Extra weight will be your enemy when you are trying to outrun the shambling hordes, so keep your BOB as light as possible.” To get a head start on those zombies, practice running with it on your back. Sure, your classmates may be laughing at you now while you run on the track carrying all your supplies, but you’ll be the one laughing when they’re the ones cramping up trying to escape from the horde.

Plan ahead. Even if you think you’ve covered everything, you most likely haven’t. Create and update a list of what you’ll need, what you’ll do and where you’ll go. You should be updating this list and making sure that it remains current. Read up on anything helpful that you can get your hands on. Zombie Squad says, “In the last several years thanks to disasters, both man-made and natural, disaster preparation has made a strong come back in popular culture since the scares of the Cold War. You can find plenty of great resources online about disaster preparation like the Red Cross, FEMA,, and of course on”


When faced with any catastrophic event, locating and obtaining shelter for protection from the elements and zombies is an absolute priority. Because Mill Valley is primarily a forest, it is safest to remain indoors. Your temporary residence should have a limited number of windows and escape routes to minimize the threat of zombie hostility from every direction. Large buildings like the Public Library are insufficient headquarters because there are too many levels, an abundance of windows, and a myriad of entrances.

The ideal building for a group of 14 people or less should be a maximum of three stories with only one entryway to the second floor. Buildings with more than three floors may be a viable option when a larger group inhabits it, but are riskier and not recommended. In the ideal building, the first two floors should be occupied by the entire party, but the third floor is not necessary to occupy, because, provided zombies can climb, an alert group would easily spot them before they reach the building. The third floor should only be used when the invasion looks against your favor. Snipers, heavy artillery operators, mounted machine gunners and grenadiers should occupy the third floor, everybody else remaining downstairs to hold down the fort.

The windows should be kept to a minimum as well. Windows are the easiest entry point for a zombie due to the lower density of glass. Smaller windows are highly advised, as glass with a smaller density is much harder to shatter and should be located on the lower floors. However, the upper levels should have much larger windows to provide a greater space for your heavy hitters to pan from side to side, increasing their effectiveness. They also serve as a nice escape route if anybody needs to jump out to save themselves provided they aren’t too high up.

The ability to enter and exit with quickness, ease and subtlety are heavily stressed. Just because you found a cool fort doesn’t mean it’s impenetrable. Although the ideal team could resist quite a nice swarm of zombies, a large enough number of determined undead can find their way into any enclosed space. Because of this, escape routes should be kept at a minimum, but there needs to be at least enough to get everybody out of the building without having to wait. A sturdy rope ladder is also necessary for safe escapes out upper level windows when an emergency arises.

The material the command center is fashioned from is also of the upmost importance. Buildings built with any material as strong, or stronger than brick or concrete is absolutely necessary for permanent occupancy. Buildings made out of weaker material such as wood or glass are far too easy for zombies to breach and are considered a death trap. However, if no other options are available at the time, do the best you can with the sources available. Tall chain link fences are also recommended as obstacles for the zombies nonexistent intelligence. They are clumsy and have much trouble climbing over objects. Chain link fences are also recommended because bullets can pass through the holes without completely destroying the fence, so they can be used again.


A zombie’s strength is equal to that of a living being, but they are considerably slower than the average human, possessing poor agility and coordination. Most zombies have difficulty dealing with simple mechanical objects and obstacles such as doorknobs, latches, stairs, and fences. This makes traps and explosives very effective against masses of zombies. Because of the blast radius explosives create, zombies thought to be out of range can be hit with considerable shrapnel and are often immobilized or stunned.

Guns are always the best solution when it comes to effectively taking down a zombie. Sawed-off shotguns are the most effective at close range. Because the butt of the gun has been removed, it decreases the weight and enables you to move quicker, a necessity for handling close quarters combat. They can also use two different kinds of ammunition, serving two different purposes. Shotshells are the most commonly used type of ammunition, but grenade rounds use exploding projectiles to enable midrange combat and expand its area of effectiveness. If guns aren’t bad–s enough for you, flamethrowers, sledgehammers, chainsaws and other power tools are always fun and provide a more hands on aspect to the whole zombie invasion concept. In a long range situation, rifles of all sorts are advised. Sniper rifles are clearly the most effective long range weapon because of their deadly accuracy and capability. However, they are only effective when there are enough members of your platoon holding down the fort, and the shooter should often carry an additional gun if the zombies advance, rendering the sniper rifle useless. Heavy artillery such as mortars, cannons and explosive shells are also effective at long range, but only when dealing with larger crowds of zombies. Otherwise, M-16’s and M-4 Carbines should be the go to guns due to their light weight, rate of fire, and overall versatility. Everyone should carry a few grenades with them also, just incase a room or pathway needs to be cleared out.

Written by Billy Butler, Chris Long & Benjy Elkind. This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue.