C’mon, we’ve all done it. You’re sitting around binge watching The Walking Dead, and you wonder: how would I survive a zombie outbreak? What do I need in a zombie survival kit? It’s a surprisingly interesting question to answer and makes for a genuinely useful thought experiment. So much so, that in recent years the study of zombies has become something of a science in itself – seriously.
Zombie Research is a Real Thing
Take this study from researchers at the University of Leicester, which concluded humanity would be totally wiped out by zombies in a little over three months. Meanwhile, back in 2015 biostatistics researchers from Kent State University published a piece in the British Medical Journal explicitly calling for “research and funding to prevent a zombie apocalypse.” Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a page dedicated to zombie preparedness.
All this might seem a bit ridiculous, given that we’ve never actually seen a zombie outbreak (except, of course, on Black Friday).
But that’s not the point.
As zombie researcher Dr. Tara Smith explained, our imaginary undead foes aren’t the idle fantasy they might appear to be. For one, Smith noted zombies “reflect current social ills or fears.”
She pointed to the classic Night of the Living Dead, and how its zombie inducing radioactive satellite represented a mix of fears stemming from the onset of the Atomic Age, then-emerging space travel and the Cold War. On the other hand, more modern zombie flicks have more of a focus on the pandemic element, reflecting our collective fears surrounding “emerging diseases and new pandemics such as SARS, bird flu and Ebola.”
Why You Need A Zombie Survival Kit: No Joke
These fears are far from unwarranted. In the 20th Century, repeated outbreaks of influenza killed somewhere between 50 and 100 million people or up to 5 percent of the global population. Even worse, in the 21st Century, the potential for weaponized pandemics is more real than you might think. Even Bill Gates (think what you will of the guy) has warned a bioterrorist attack could easily wipe out 30 million people in 12 months.
This is why zombies are such useful enemies for survivalists. Just as it made sense to have some level of nuclear preparedness in the 20th Century, the study of pandemics likewise has its place for survivalists of the 21st Century. In this sense, zombies can be placeholders for any number of biological disasters. Hence, despite the diktat of pop culture, any respectable zombie survival kit should be focused on defending against the disease itself, instead of how best to dismember the ravenous undead hordes (though that’s still important). In any pandemic (zombie or otherwise), shotguns and machetes will be less useful than rubber gloves and safety goggles.
Zombie Disease Unleashed
So what would a rational zombie survival kit include? To answer this question, I’ve taken inspiration from a range of health organizations and institutions, along with their advice for dealing with major disease outbreaks. These include the CDC, Department of Homeland Security, World Health Organization, Johns Hopkins University, and American Red Cross. I also found Hong Kong’s Influenza pandemic preparedness kit useful. For argument’s sake, I’m assuming we have no idea where the zombie disease originates, or how it’s transmitted. So, we’re going all in for biohazard protection.
The Zombie Survival Kit Checklist
Be ready, don't get caught off guard when the zombies' attack!
- Water: … and plenty of it.
- Water purification system: Ideally, something that removes viruses, like the (MSR Guardian)
- Food supplies: Canned goods are an obvious choice, while MREs can be good for the survivor on the go.
- Duct tape: Whether you’re sealing doorways and windows, fixing equipment on the fly, or just attaching a flamethrower to your assault rifle, duct tape is just awesome.
- First aid kit: Learn about how to build your own first aid kit here.
- Respirator: If you can, go for a military grade full face respirator specifically designed for chemical and biological warfare, like this one. Don’t forget to stock up on filters.
- Disposable rubber gloves: Buy more than you think you’ll need. Kleenguard is a reasonable brand for the price.
- Medical grade biohazard waste bags: Remember the lawnmower scene in Braindead? Well if you make a mess, you better clean it up, preferably using bags that won’t put you at risk of future contamination, like these.
- Biohazard full body suit: When SHTF and you’re knee deep in zombie guts, you’d better be dressed for the occasion. It might not look fashionable, but the DuPont Chem Suit is a good choice for any pandemic. For a cheaper alternative, consider grabbing a few Quick Kits.
- Rubber boots: Wet feet suck, especially when they’re wet with zombie blood. Kamiks are pretty uncomfortable, but they’re good for the price.
- Disinfectant: Those clean freaks who sterilize their kitchens like operating theaters might actually have a point. So stock up on your favorite disinfectant, and use it to clean absolutely everything.
- Hand wipes: Obviously, you should go for something heavy duty, like Tough Wipes.
- Drop cloths: Plastic sheets can be purchased from any hardware store, and are essential for keeping your safe house uncontaminated.
- Kevlar gloves: Good for combat, and essential for anyone who has ever dreamed of punching a zombie. NoCry is a good choice for situations where rubber gloves won’t hold up.
- Dead On AN18 18-Inch Annihilator: This will be your best friend during close encounters with the zombie kind.
- A firearm of your choice: I’m not going to wade into the debate over which firearm is best for mowing down zombies, so just go with whatever you feel most comfortable with.
- Armor: If you don’t want to end up like the disemboweled biker at the end of Dawn of the Dead, you’ll want some armor. Damascus Gear has a good reputation, and its FlexForce Riot Control Suit is second to none. If you’d prefer something lighter, consider the Fox Racing Titan Sport Protective MTB.
- Night vision goggles: Not essential, and ridiculously expensive. But hey, the zombies don’t sleep, so why should you? ATN’s NVG7 goggles are industry standard, but be prepared to really bust the bank.
Are you ready? Is your zombie survival kit packed?
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