Shows like “The Walking Dead” are more than just entertaining. They also give us the chance to explore how prepared we would be if such a seemingly unlikely event were to occur. And when you consider how unlikely a zombie scenario might be, you might also consider the fact that the CDC has plans in place in case of a zombie apocalypse. And let’s face it, they don’t really seem to be the type to plan just for fun.

Zombies and Other SHTF Scenarios

The difference in a zombie situation and any other SHTF scenario is that it’s a two-fold issue. Any sort of zombie apocalypse is more likely to be some widespread virus or disease, like rabies. And this medical issue happens to cause those infected to become aggressive and by default, share the issue with you or do serious bodily harm. That means you’ll have to be prepared with real physical defenses against disease as well as attacks.

Survival Gear and Supplies

To prepare for any survival situation you’ll need gear packs ready to go and a stockpile of supplies. What your specific kit looks like depends on your goals. For now, we’ll just cover the absolute basics of your doomsday pack.

Every basic survival pack should contain a first aid kit, basic hygiene supplies, utility items (fire, knives, can openers, etc.),  a means by which to purify water, and any medications you’re taking. Take some standard survival items like a compass, multi-powered radio, and binoculars. Stock up on as much gas, water, and non-perishable food as possible, too. Remember you need to have a kit ready to be mobile, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be mobile immediately, so your home should be prepared, too.

Staying at Home

Zombies are (usually) slow and easy to avoid, but their strength is in numbers. Everyone bitten will turn and it’s just a matter of holding out until help arrives or the zombies decompose. So, if you have a home that’s easy to fortify, then stay there. Board up the windows and doors with plywood, lumber, and furniture. You might also put your well on lockdown, if you have one. At the very least, sanitize your water, even at home. You never know when water supplies will be contaminated during an outbreak. If at all possible, stay in the house until you absolutely have to leave.

Forced to Travel

You may be forced to leave due to overpopulation, rioting, or violent raiders in your area. If you anticipate ever having to leave your well-stocked home, use your car and the extra gas you stocked up on to get as far away as possible for as long as possible. It’s far more dangerous to be leaving on foot when a vehicle offers you the ability to travel faster for long, with some protection. Either way, travel as quietly as possible, especially if you’re forced to leave your vehicle behind for any reason. Keep listening to your radio for survival shelters and outposts to travel to; it’s easier to survive with others than by yourself.

Killing a Zombie

The zombie’s head is your target. Your body cannot operate without a functioning brain or a severed spinal cord — neither can a zombie’s. If you plan to practice a zombie scenario, do so by making the head the ongoing target. Keep in mind the strength and abilities of the people you practice with. Adults are stronger, but usually less nimble than children. So if family zombie practice is your thing, consider having the children practice climbing and using weapons like a bow and arrow, while adults rely more on hand to hand combat.

Weapons of Choice

If you have guns, stock up on ammo and practice shooting before the apocalypse happens. Headshots aren’t always easy, but a zombie’s slow speed works to your advantage. It’s also much more manageable if you have choke points to work with.

If you don’t have guns or aren’t comfortable with them, then many everyday objects will work. Baseball bats are crude, but effective. Machetes are an ideal weapon; their relatively small profile is easy enough to hide, yet heavy enough to slice into a zombie skull. Chef knives, golf clubs, and other similar objects are effective zombie killers.

Avoid Bites and Contamination

Being bitten by a zombie is the end for you, so (obviously) avoid zombie bites. Ingesting zombie blood probably transmits the virus as well, so cover your mouth if you’re forced into combat. Quickly clean up and cover any open wounds before and after a zombie encounter.

Hopefully we’ll never live to see the day a zombie apocalypse comes to pass. If it does, don’t make the mistake of thinking you just have to wait until their bodies decompose. There isn’t likely to be much information about the virus they carry or how long it can survive under the right circumstances. If such a situation ever were to occur, be sure to wait for an all clear from the CDC or local health department before going back to business as usual.