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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stocking up for the Zombie Apocalypse: Another wall of text you won't read

In keeping with Zombie Awareness Month I am releasing one of my barely-read advice columns on how to prepare for the zombie apocalypse. Last time I talked about the various types of zombies, how they are created, and the I Smell Sheep lab reports on zombies. This time I will be advising you on what items to stock up on and how to prepare. I am taking some of my information from the Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. For those of you truly concerned about an uprising, I highly suggest that you get this book because I found it most helpful. Without further stalling I present:

Items to stock up on for the Zombie Apocalypse


It goes without saying that having a ready supply of food and water is necessary if you're going to survive. You can't count on the local water supplied to keep going, and you certainly won't be taking your canvas bags to the supermarket. First, let's talk about water. If you live near a river or creek, you're pretty much set. The only problem is water filtration, because despite what bottled water commercials would have you believe that sparkling clear stream has got plenty of germs floating in it. Cholera is a nasty thing. I recommend getting a charcoal hand-pump filter from your local camping store, along with extra filters. The charcoal filter is the finest in water filtration human technology has developed and is incredibly reliable. I got plenty of good clean water in New Mexico using a charcoal filter. It also tastes better than iodine purification tablets.

When it comes to food, I recommend having a supply of fresh food. Eating this first will let your canned supplies last longer and it tastes better. The rest of your food supplies, I recommend canned or otherwise preserved foods. If you look at the expiration dates on canned foods they can remain good up to two or three years into the future, so building up a supply that will last is always a good thing. However, do check your supplies frequently and use items with close expiration dates. While you can eat some foods past the date (as long as it smells and looks okay) food poisoning during a zombie apocalypse can be a deadly inconvenience. If it looks like the apocalypse will be permanent and civilization will not recover, you're going to have to find a renewable food supply. In the meantime, and for smaller-scale outbreaks, your canned supplies will keep you alive for the time being.

Something people often forget to stock up on is common medicines. Now obviously I'm not talking about prescription drugs like antibiotics, antidepressants, and so on. (However if you are dependent on these medications I highly recommend that you have a means to get these medications should the supply be cut off.) When it comes to medicine I suggest that you stock up on over-the-counter medicines. Simple things like painkillers, antacids, antihistamines, and antibiotics such as hydrogen peroxide. These basic medicines can make life easier and can frequently save lives in an apocalypse. Furthermore they can be useful for trading purposes with other survivors. You would not believe what someone with a killer cold will trade for Dayquil in the right circumstances.

Now the temptation is to save up money and various valuables. Hoarding valuables like gold, silver and gemstones. Quite simply these are not good things to stock up on. If...or more accurately when the fall comes gold and silver aren't going to be worth a thing. Instead there are plenty of other things I would recommend you stock up on for trading purposes, along with in some cases their benefits.

As I mentioned earlier, over the counter medicines would be useful to stock up on. Aside from their beneficial purposes, medicines can also be useful for trading purposes. I also recommend you stock up on toilet paper, and for multiple reasons. First of all toilet paper can't go bad. Keep it in a dry place and it will stay good for god knows how long. Second, toilet paper is one of mankind's greatest inventions. Believe me, you don't know how much you love it until you don't have it. And finally, if you have a plentiful supply of toilet paper you can trade with other survivors, who I assure you will be very, very grateful.

Another item you can stock up on is cigarettes. Long the official currency of prisons everywhere, cigarettes have been a valuable commodity. Again, as long as you keep them dry they can last for long time. In dealing with other survivors, cigarettes are far more useful as currency than gold, silver and paper currency ever will be.

Arms and Ammunition:
A lot of what I'm going to say is inspired by the Zombie Survival Guide, but it's still good advice. (Always cite your sources.) As the Guide tells us, ALWAYS follow the various laws regarding the sale, use, and ownership of weapons in your country, state, and county. Do not, under any circumstances, obtain an illegal weapon.

The Guide strongly recommends using simple weapons because "blades don't need reloading". As a trained fencer, I do agree that melee weapons have their advantages. Now, while that fancy katana from the Renaissance faire looks good, it's probably a show piece that is not useful for fighting zombies. For a reasonable to moderately expensive price you can easily purchase combat-ready weapons from professional smiths at the same faires. However, always ask and make sure these weapons are combat-ready. Granted, such weapons take a great amount of practice to learn. Even after three years I'm barely trained with a sabre. As the Guide suggests simple tools, like machetes or crowbars, which are useful during the apocalypse can also be utilized as weapons. As always, practice, practice, practice. Your life will literally depend upon it.

When it comes to firearms, as always follow the local laws and regulations. I also ask that you remember the basic rules of firearm ownership
  1. Always assume a gun is loaded, especially when someone says it isn't.
  2. Always keep your gun locked in a secure place, and keep the ammunition locked in a separate place out of the reach of children.
  3. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  4. Know your target, and what's behind it.
  5. Always keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to fire.
Please please always follow these rules of responsible firearm ownership. Also, make sure to practice with your firearms. It's no use if you can't hit the broad side of a barn. Keep your firearm in working order, clean it, and keep a ready supply of ammunition ready. And, as always, follow the rules of firearm ownership.

Anyway, hopefully you have found my information on supplies to stock up on useful for your zombie shelters. I hope you found it interesting and useful to know.


Adventurer's Rule #4: Always be courteous to other people.

[Photos by Jeni Darling you can find more of her fabulous work here: Jeni's Website ]


  1. I am all for stocking up on chapstick. People are really going to want that, and I have loads of it! *evil laugh*

    I'm ready...I think ;)

  2. You get the chapstick and I will start hoarding toilet paper! I would really by "put out" if I didn't have any of that :)

  3. You might want to add something to the weapon safety rules. A weapon should always be left on safe until you are ready to fire.

    I do like the rest of the points you made about medicine, consumables and especially currency.

  4. The zombie pics in this article are so gruesome!
    What a great zombie look! I was wondering...If I look like a zombie..will the real ones leave me alone?

  5. That is a matter of debate among zombie-ologists. (Totally a word I didn't just make up.) While in some cases acting like zombies is enough to fool them (Shaun of the Dead) in other cases you have to look like them as well, although this comes with certain risks. (Poor Bill Murray) However, sometimes zombies identify each other by smell, and if you don't smell like a rotting corpse (which I hope you don't) then you're just not going to fit in. Generally I would say it's a risk that isn't worth taking between the risks of getting discovered by zombies and getting killed by survivors.

  6. I have to agree with BAK on this. Best not to temp fate.

  7. Oh yes, before I forget, yes you should always use safeties. However remember that safeties are mechanical devices and therefore -can- fail. So while it's good to use them, do not rely on them. Use your head, and stay safe.

  8. As far as moving among the zombie horde, and choosing your weapons, my opinion is that stealth should be your paramount goal when moving from place to place. If they don't even know that you're there, then they can't attack now can they? Yes, i know that its obvious that this is not always a viable option, but it should be the top priority in the event of Zombieland.

    1. I am with you. Avoidance at all costs! and if they are attracted to sound, you should have grenade type things to launch away from you for quick get aways.

  9. Good ideas. I don't know whether it is going to happen but it will certainly be good to have something to trade with if it does ;-)

    Even now, people are turning to barter as a means of survival. It helps to find people who are willing to trade with you directly for whatever you want. However sometimes you have to go through several steps.

    Cigarettes are one of the goods that several people use so you have a wider trading base, so to speak. Electronic cigarettes are even healthier than the regular variety.