Whether zombies are knocking on your door, or a natural disaster forces you to evacuate, there are a few vital skills everyone should know in order to keep your family safe.
Food storage is a huge concern in any disaster. More often than not, families are caught completely unprepared and are forced out of their homes with merely a day’s supply of food, or less. Yes, food is heavy, but it is vital. Below are some tips and tricks to help you prepare appropriate foods to keep your family safe in any disaster, from floods to the Zombiepocalypse.
FEMA and the Red Cross suggest storing foods that are high in calories and nutrition, require no refrigeration, water to cook, or special cooking techniques in case of emergency. They also said to take into account your family’s nutritional needs and tastes. Familiar or comfort foods will make a tough situation, as in a disaster, easier on everyone.
Ensure boxes and resealable packages are kept sealed tight. Repack items in zip-top bags to keep pests out and preserve freshness if original packaging is damaged.
Store dry goods such as sugar, flour, nuts, and dried fruit in screw-top jars or airtight containers.
Throw away canned goods that are swollen, dented, corroded, or rusting.
Store non-perishable items in a large plastic tote, along with cooking/eating utensils, a manual can opener, a large pot with lid, and waterproof matches.
Do not forget non-perishable food for your pets.
Use these foods within six months- Boxed Powdered Milk, Dried Fruit, crisp crackers, potatoes (stored in a cool, dry place).
Use within a year – Condensed canned meat and vegetable soups, canned fruit, canned fruit juices, canned vegetables, ready-to-eat cereal and oatmeal, peanut butter, jelly, hard candy and canned nuts, vitamin supplements.
Canned foods can be eaten out of the can- remove the label and open the can before heating. This saves on dishes, or allows you to have a warm meal, despite a lack of pots and pans. Place a few medium-sized rocks around the can on top of some coals. The rocks will hold it in place.
Boil non-store bought water for 5 minutes before adding food to cook. This ensures any and all bacteria in the water are killed and don’t latch onto the food, making you sick.
Cook all foods thoroughly, especially meat if you plan on hunting to feed your camp. Storing meat is not ideal in a disaster situation. Cook everything you have and let it cool before storing it in plastic bags in your ice chest to prevent possible cross-contamination from raw meat in the ice chest. The meat must be eaten within hours** unless you find a way to make jerky out of it or a magical way to consistently keep it under 38* Fahrenheit***. Beans and grains are excellent sources of protein that don’t require refrigeration.
**Hot or cold food left at room temperature for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90°) should be discarded.
***According to the USDA FSIS, cooked meat can be refrigerated safely for 3-4 days. For storage longer than four days, cooked meat should be frozen.
To prepare for the first few days after evacuation, take a couple gallon containers and fill them with water to just below the neck of the container (water expands when frozen). Add 1/4 cup of salt to each container of water, secure the cap, and shake well. Stow them in the freezer. Every so often, give them a shake to keep the salt from clumping together. This brine solution freezes colder than ice and lasts longer, as well. It’ll get you through a couple days if you keep the ice chest closed and in the shade. After that, stick to food that needs no refrigeration.
If necessary, you may safely ration food by cutting down to at least one well-balanced meal a day. Only ration your food if you are able to keep activity levels low. Eat enough calories to cover your activity level; otherwise your body will cannibalize itself to find the calories to burn. You may take vitamin supplements to help. However, some of them will require you to eat extra food and drink extra water. Vitamin B complexes, for example, require food to break down and provide added energy.
Do not ration water. Ever. Be prepared to pack or purify at least one gallon of water per person per day, half a gallon of that is for consumption alone. If water supplies are low, do not eat salty foods, as they will make you thirstier.
Whether zombies are knocking on your door, or a natural disaster forces you to evacuate, there are a few vital skills everyone should know in order to keep your family safe.
Water, in any disaster or even while camping, is a precious commodity. Honestly, the best method to ensure you have enough is to keep store-bought gallons of water on-hand just in case. Store a three-day supply of water—one gallon of water per person per day. That does not include water for washing dishes—which must also be purified—washing your face, brushing teeth, and tending to any possible medical emergencies. At the very least, a three-day supply will give you guaranteed clean water long enough to allow you to find a safe water source to pull and purify.
In a pinch, FEMA and the Red Cross recommends the following methods for cleaning and purifying water for drinking.
Option 1: Boiling
Boiling water kills water-born pathogens that can make one ill. Boil a pot of water at 160*F (a rolling boil, not a simmer) for at least 1 minute (you may boil longer if you wish). While, yes, it will kill anything in the water, it will not filter out any debris or make the water taste better. Pack some cheesecloth in your go bag and pour the water through of few layers of that before boiling to filter out debris.
Option 2: Chlorine Treatment
Using an eyedropper, add 8-10 drops of non-scented, regular liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water to purify (up to 16 drops if the water is cloudy). Stir and let the water stand for 30 minutes.
Tip: The water should smell a little like bleach (or tap water in a large city). If it does not, repeat the process and let stand for 15 minutes. If after the second dose of bleach, it doesn’t smell like chlorine, the water is too dirty to purify.
Option 3: Distillation
Distillation will not only kill most microbes that will make you ill, it will also make sure you do not drink heavy metals, salt, and other chemicals (such as those used in other purification methods). This is the ideal method to use if you have children, infants, or anyone with serious health conditions in camp. Remember, though, it is a slow process to clean enough water for an adult’s recommended intake of half a gallon of water per day.
Find a large, clean pot with a lid. You will also need a cup and string/twine. Fill the pot half way with water. Tie the cup onto the handle of the pot lid and put the lid onto the pot upside down, so the cup hangs inside the pot. Make sure the cup is not touching the water. Bring the pot of water to a boil for 20 minutes. The water vapors will condense on the pot lid and drip into the cup. The water in the cup is distilled and ready for drinking.
There are two more methods available for water treatment.
Option 4: Iodine Treatment
Use 5 drops of liquid iodine for every quart of water (up to 12 drops if the water is cloudy). Make sure the iodine contains 5.25% hypochlorite as the only active ingredient. The Red Cross or FEMA does not recommend anything else as suitable for water treatments. Iodine treatments are also available in crystal and tablet form. Follow the directions on the bottles for those.
Note: Iodine water treatment is not recommended for pregnant or breast-feeding women, anyone over 50, or anyone with thyroid problems. If after the first treatment, the water does not smell like iodine, it is too dirty to purify. Iodine treatment is not recommended for long-term survival use (over a week or two).
Option 5: Filter systems
There is a range of water filters available at camping supply stores. Some of them are downright expensive. If you live in an area with frequent flooding, hurricanes, or any natural disaster that would remove you from your home(aside from the pending Zombiepocalypse), we’d suggest maybe looking into a filter system. As far as stocking your go bag, use one of the above options and save your money for the essentials–toilet paper and coffee.
For all of the above water treatment options, ensure that the container you collect/purify the water in is CLEAN—washed with soap or rinsed with diluted bleach.
Be sure to collect clear-looking water from a moving source. Ponds and other stagnant bodies of water will have far more bacteria than large, flowing bodies of water. The cleaner the water is when you start the purification process, the easier it will be to clean.
Always boil water you intend to cook with BEFORE adding food—at least 2 minutes of a hard, rolling boil before cooking to prevent bacteria from hiding in the food.
It is recommended that you utilize commercially bought, food-safe water containers to store water in case of an emergency. Wash the containers with soap and water and rinse thoroughly before filling.
If you do not have the resources to buy a container, use a two-liter soda bottle. Not plastic jugs from milk, or juice (the sugar and protein do not wash out and the water will spoil). Wash the two-liter bottles and lids with soap and water and rinse thoroughly.
Fill the bottles with water from the tap at home (Add two drops of bleach per gallon if your house draws from a well. Public water sources are already treated). Or, use the clean bottles to store your boiled/treated water after it is cool/clean. Water stored in this manner will last for about six months.
As Hurricane Isaac moves its way across the U.S. Gulf Coast we are reminded, once again, of the importance of pre-planning to manage a manmade, zombie or natural disaster. We here at Zombie Survival Crew command want all our brigade members to be prepared and stay safe whatever disaster hits. Some things are, ultimately, out of our control…but we can all be ready with supplies, plans and contact information to deal with most situations.
To help make sure you’re ready, we’ve compiled a list of sites that provide disaster planning assistance as well as links to disaster relief organizations and official data centers.
There are times when we receive coded messages from brigadiers that are both awesome and important. We received one such message last week. After deciphering it, Juliette realized that it needed to be shared with the rest of the ZSC ranks.
So with a salute to the Blue Brigade, here’s one of your own, Judy, with a note about the importance of go bag preparation.
* * * * *
Ok, so maybe my family and I take this whole Go Bag thing too seriously, though I did love their presence in those hurricane commercials last summer. I get it, preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse isn’t at the top of everyone’s list. Maybe even I don’t take it as seriously as needed. After all, when asked what I would include, I was quick to mention Oreos for my beloved Brigade Leader, Norm. But then again, if the world has ended and Norm has survived, who wouldn’t want to offer him Oreos… Ok, I am focused again.
Sure, I’ve noticed the strange looks when asked why my daughter is buying that very sharp, oddly shaped, knife. But there are only so many ways to explain that it is perfectly shaped for chopping off zombie heads. I realize some people might question the Zombie Survival Crew brigade color-coordinated duck tape, but there is no reason to be unfashionable at the End of Times. We have, after all, also included camouflage tape for more practical applications. And really, those bright blue non-latex gloves, inspired by Daryl’s messy gutting techniques, are a much bigger concern than a little yellow or light blue duct tape.
However, a Go Bag really does have practical applications, if you aren’t one to embrace the possibility of zombies. It could mean the difference of comfort versus chaos or even survival versus death. There are many real world reasons to prepare. With that in mind, my family and I want to share our choices so far.
Our strategy is not quantity but rather variety. Hopefully “refills” can be acquired, free of charge, after the end. I have already mentioned duct tape, non-latex gloves (prolonged exposure to latex can result in allergies), sharp weapons, and Oreos. Here are a few more things you might want to consider for your bag:
A comfortable pillow that rolls up small — how sharp will you be if you are completely sleep deprived?
The expensive water filter bottle. This is not the time to cut corners. There is only one bottle on the market right now that filters out bacteria. And don’t forget extra filters, but not too many. Remember, free “refills”.
A sewing kit, complete with needles, scissors, thread – good for mending clothes and bodies
A shakable flashlight — would you want the batteries to go dead at the wrong time?
Bandanas — preferably official, color-coordinated ZSC buffs (just a little plug, there) and goggles. It wouldn’t do to get anything in your eyes or mouth
Flint and striker
Wilderness survival manual – Bear Grills is a favorite in our house.
First aid kit
Camping utensils and cookware — the kind that all fold up and lock together to save space and weight on your back.
Which leads me to the most important part, the bag itself. I am a fan of backpacks. While many people find it more comfortable to run with a bag in the hand, it doesn’t leave both hands free for fighting the undead, climbing, or other activities vital to survival. Keep an eye on the weight also. Excess weight will slow you down. That pretty much rules out gallons of water, a heavy arsenal, and extra Oreo’s. There will be just enough for you and me, Norm.
I’ll be honest from the get-go; guns aren’t my thing. Yes they are incredibly useful distance weapons and we all know that you don’t want to get in biting range of a zombie, but guns are also loud. They draw unwanted attention. Not to mention without training and practice, are more of a hindrance than help. This isn’t the movies. You aren’t going to be able to pick up a discarded handgun, then blast your way through a zombie horde. At best you might catch one good shot before exhausting what’s in the magazine.
Nevertheless, handguns do serve a purpose and we at the Zombie Survival Crew strive to make sure that you are prepared for anything that’ll come your way during the Zombiepocalypse.
During this lesson, we will take a look at a few types of handguns and cover their specs. It’s important to know your weapons on the off chance you do stumble across one. Knowing where the safety is on a semi-automatic pistol could save your life. Just sayin’…
First up, revolvers. Honestly, these are as basic as a handgun can get with very little to remember on the How-To end of things. Since this is a crash-course, we won’t delve into the differences between single-action and double-action revolvers. Any revolver you encounter is likely to be double-action anyways. This means that the gun has no safety to disengage, but the first shot you take (without cocking/pulling the hammer back) will require quite a bit of effort. Each subsequent shot will be easier, but remember, with most revolvers you only get six shots before you must reload.
That doesn’t leave a lot of room for error or squeamishness. If you’ve acquired a revolver to use against the undead, make each and every shot count. Reloading without a speed loader is time-consuming and almost impossible to do with shaking/bloody hands. I’d suggest saving your revolver for a backup or last-ditch weapon should you find yourself in a bind.
Below are notes on a pair of revolvers. You will notice that they are very similar with only a few differences in weight and manufacturing.
Smith and Wesson M66:
Cylinder capacity: 6 rounds- .357 magnum cartridge
Double action. Reliable. Light enough for comfortable carry.
Flaws: LOUD. Draws attention. May kick too much for untrained shooters. Preferred police revolver (though most have opted for a semi-auto pistol now, leaving the S&W as a backup weapon).
Cylinder capacity: 6 rounds- .357 magnum cartridge
Boasts a smooth trigger pull, accuracy, and is a double-action.
Flaws: Cylinder misalignment after heavy shooting poses possible injury from burning gunpowder or cause gun to misfire when used in double action capacity (opposed to cocking the hammer back on the first shot). HEAVY compared to other pistols.
Now we’ll move on to the semi-automatic pistols. There are about five billion different breeds of these handguns, I’m sure of it. Each manufacturer has their own way to load a magazine, disengage the safety mechanism… you name it and they’ve strived to make it unique to their brand of guns. I’ll try my best to cover some of the basics.
The main difference you are going to see between semi-autos is the safety. Older pistols and civilian weapons have an external safety, which must be disengaged in order to fire the gun. The most likely place for the safety is on the rear of the gun where your right thumb can easily maneuver the mechanism. However, there is a new trend with semi-automatics that bypasses the safety altogether. These newer weapons, used by police and the like, use a double-action system similar to the revolvers we learned about moments ago. They possess a harder trigger pull for the first shot, with a normal pull for each shot after that. To be on the safe side, look for a safety first. If it’s not there, aim at the nearest zombie and fire.
Semi-auto pistols carry more cartridges. That being said, you should still pick and chose your shots wisely. The sound of a gun being fired carries really far and attracts unwanted and hungry attention. Also, just because you have more chances doesn’t mean your aim will magically get better while unloading your magazine into a horde of the undead.
Browning 9mm Hi-power:
Magazine hold: 13 rounds (14 if 1 round chambered)
Based on single-action design. May be carried with the hammer cocked & safety on (cocked & locked) without risk of misfire. Otherwise the pistol must be cocked manually by thumbing the hammer back or pulling the slide rearward & releasing.
Flaws: Standard trigger pull is heavy without modifications to the magazine safety (voiding warranty). The hammer has a tendency to “bite”, pinch between thumb and forefinger with the hammer spur. Some replace the hammer to a smaller design or relearn how to grip this specific gun to avoid injury.
Beretta 92FS 9mm:
Magazine hold: varies (10,15,18,20) typical: 15
Uses a double-action first trigger pull with single-action pull for subsequent rounds. Open slide prevents jamming.
Flaws: Weight and size may be an issue for smaller hands. Cannot carry cocked & locked. Long trigger pull is deterrent for some. Not much stopping power with the 9mm (compared to .40 & .45 without ammo upgrade).
Double action first shot (approx. 10 pounds of pressure on the pull), subsequent shots are single action (approx. 5 pounds of trigger pull). No external safety. Decocking is done via a button near the hammer.
Flaws: The hard first pull seems to be a detractor, but designers consider it integral to prevent accidental firing during a struggle.
That’s it for the lesson on handgun basics. If you have anything to add on that I’ve over looked, please leave a comment and share with the class.
Remember, if you are going to be serious about learning how to use a handgun, do it responsibly and safely.
Predictions of the pending troubles state that at the height of the zombie uprising, the undead will overrun major cities. They will run us out of our houses and, in effect, take over our lives as we know it. Staying in the city would be impossible. Heck, some would say it would be suicidal. Your only chance to ensure your family’s safety is to get out.
The ZSC has escape routes being mapped, along with bases for crew members to gather in safety. However, it is essential that you know how to live in the wilderness should you be unable to reach a secure building or ZSC stronghold. These skills will also come in handy should you find yourself ousted from your home after a natural disaster. Shelters fill up quickly, its best to be prepared.
First thing’s first, you’ll need to scout possible camping sites outside of your city. Find one or two choices in each direction, preferably on the same route you will have to take to reach the nearest Safe Haven provided by the ZSC, or Rescue Agencies. An ideal campsite will be near to water and with plenty of trees around it to provide shelter and firewood. Pick a place a distance from the road. This will not only give you privacy, but also warning if someone or something unwanted approaches your camp. Zombies aren’t exactly quiet tromping through a forest.
Below we’ve included a list of supplies you should consider in addition to what you have in your Go Bags, which should include things like toilet paper, matches, medications, toiletries, clothing, etc…
Tent: tent fly, poles, stakes and ropes. Take a practice run in your back yard after purchasing the tent so you know how to set it up. This will be useful if you are forced to make camp in the dark. Tents are sized by the number of average-sized adults that can lie down across the bottom of the tent. Like sardines. Pick a tent that is one or two people larger than the number you plan to have sleep in there. Make that number even bigger if you plan to put your luggage in the tent with you.
Hammer/Hatchet: To drive tent stakes. We suggest a sturdy hatchet, which will do double duty to cut wood into kindling for fires.
Sleeping Bags: Bags are rated by the highest and lowest temperatures sleepers inside can withstand. Look for a temperature range that fits in the area you live in. Make sure that the lowest temperature rating of the sleeping bag coincides with the lowest average temperature of where you will be camping or lower, just to be safe.
Pillows: Comfort is key. If you have a sore neck/back you can’t run from the undead. A small travel pillow will roll up in your sleeping bag to reduce packing space.
Tarp: A billion and one uses. They can keep your supplies dry. Be fashioned into a privacy shade for bathing and changing. A tarp can even be used to set up an emergency tent should yours meet with an accident. We really like multipurpose items such as these.
Light Sources: For the first couple of weeks, flashlights that run on batteries will suffice. However, if you are forced to camp for long periods of time you will need either a lantern that runs on fuel, or to find a flashlight that doesn’t run on batteries.
Ice Chest: Obviously, carrying perishable food for too long is not an option. An ice chest is good for storing your food if you have a large group to feed. (Please note that it will not keep an animal from breaking into your food stores. Food will need to be raised off the ground to prevent bears and the like from stealing it. Also, keep your camp free of food smells. Pack everything, even garbage, away after meals.)
Water Jugs: At some point in the preparation process, you all will tire of us harping about water. The fact is, without water you’re going to die and then come back, forcing one of us to put your zombie self down. We don’t want that. Pack a few gallons of water in your camping kit and save the bottles. They can be refilled with purified/boiled water.
A Grill: You don’t need to pack an entire barbecue or gas stove in order to be able to cook. Grab just the grill off your barbecue. When you set up camp, make a pit of rocks with a diameter roughly the size of the grill (the grill should rest on top of the pit without falling into the flames). Ta-da! You can cook, purify water, and stay warm without having to figure out just how you’re going to carry that bulky camp stove.
Pots and Pans: Yes, we are aware that these items are heavy. Consider the long run, though. It is impossible to tell when, if ever, you will be able to reenter the city again if it is lost to the undead. Look at Atlanta in “The Walking Dead”. So make room for at least one good, large cooking pot and a cast-iron skillet. If you pack carefully, both should fit in the ice chest with your food, limiting what you have to carry.
Cooking Utensils: You should already have a knife in your Go Bag, but in addition, pack tongs, a spatula, a large spoon, and a can opener. Go for the heavy-duty, can handle an elephant standing on them type of utensils. Being on the run is hell on equipment. Plus, a sturdy spoon could end up a weapon in a pinch.
Aluminum Foil: Oh how we love thee, foil. Let me count the ways… Sounds weird to write poetry for the silver stuff, but it will make cooking in the outdoors so much easier. Got hard vegetables (squash, potatoes, etc…), wrap them in foil and put them down on the hot coals while you cook what meat you have on the grill. Fish is impossible to cook on a grill without losing some. Solution? Foil! You get the point? Foil has other uses. Rumor is one of the commanders has made cannon charges with foil… we do not suggest trying this at home without expert assistance.
Eating Utensils: This includes plates, cups, and silverware (spork!). Make sure everything is, again, heavy duty and easy to sanitize.
Soap: Lets face it, you need soap. Without it you risk courting a number of nasty diseases that could be killed by a simple scrub and rinse (of your cooking materials as well as yourself).
Zip-loc bags: These multipurpose items not only help you organize the items in your Go Bag, but they also allow you to portion foods before storing them. This way you can stash next week’s dried fruit rations somewhere safe without worry.
Towels: A stack of towels should keep you for a while. They can be used for personal hygiene, cleaning, heck even as a pillow or a blanket if need be. Cut a large towel into smaller squares to make dishrags and potholders.
These are just the basics to keep you going for a little while. It is better to be prepared for the worst than to be caught with your pants down, right?
When things go south for the long haul, be it the zombies we plan for or some other disaster, the technological world we have come to love will fade away with it. That does not mean that when the time comes we should shun what we’ve come to depend on. Some of them could end up being just as vital as that multi tool you keep in your pocket.
There are a few factors to consider when it comes down to selecting survival electronics. Portability, power consumption, hardware hacking (sorry Apple fans), and ease of finding a replacement or parts.
Computers – There are three roads here, a portable custom built system, a laptop/netbook, or running everything from an external hard drive. Linux would be the OS of choice, as it can handle just about any file you find and deal with almost any hardware out today. For those not used to Linux, Ubuntu or a similar distribution is ideal with it’s friendly interface and huge following.
The HTPC (Home Theater Personal Computer) or MicroATX/ITX form factor gives you a huge array of options as far as parts, builds, and hacking options. But they requires an external power source for it and a monitor, making them much less portable but much more powerful.
Portable, but not very hackable. With it’s own monitor and a low power consumption, these are ideal for on the go. Acer Aspire One 533 series is one of the most reliable and least power hungry of what’s out now and can handle Linux, Windows, or even OS X (though you lose trackpad function). Any number of other laptops can fit the bill too, though if you’re willing to deal with the cost, ToughBook Tablets can take more abuse than you typically dole out. Just keep in mind these aren’t they days of doing heavy graphic work from a laptop or watching Hi-def movies. Battery life and portability are the priority.
If you need to ditch your computer of choice, losing the files as well is a hard blow. Keep them separate and keep them encrypted. And don’t forget install files for the programs you use.
Cables and Cords
Network cable, USB cords with various tips (one of each typically), power cord/brick, monitor cable.
A wireless mouse, solar powered if possible. A solar powered keyboard or one of the flexible, spill proof ones. USB Camera for video logs so the future has a record. IDE/SATA hard drive to USB connection, is a far easier way to browse through a found computer.
E-Reader programs are a must.
A large collection of ebook car and firearm repair manuals, survival guides, farming guides, medical books, translation dictionaries, educational text books, a road atlas and the like will be indispensable.
Music and videos for entertainment, so we keep our sanity a little bit longer.
Two Way Radios
Without cell towers, communication will be in short supply. Pocket size radios with rechargeable batteries will offer an option, albeit limited to a mile or so. More than enough for scouts and patrols. Look for ones with a battery pack, but can also run on AA or AAA batteries to take advantage of the next item.
Portable Solar Charger
Goal Zero being the most well known. Their Nomad and Guide series can keep your radios charged and offer AA battery packs for other uses. Sherpa and Extreme can power laptops, lighting, or even a small 12v refrigerator if needed.
DC to AC Converter
Maybe a bit bulky, but you are going to find a lot of abandoned cars. Most won’t be worth the time to fix up and are better for parts. All of them have 12v batteries you can easily link to one of these to power any modern appliance for a time.
There is no better way to test batteries than this handy device, and it has many more uses for being so cheap. Once a battery falls to 2/3s of it’s rated output (like AA being 1.5v, etc.) then it is as good as dead.
These are just some of the options that will make a life vastly different from what we know, easier. And will give those that may not have skills they need, the information to learn those skills.
Without having to steal, I mean, borrow LK’s flux capacitor, I took a trip back in time to better understand the origin of the weapons we’ve been encouraging you all to use in the event of the Zombiepocalypse. It was no small feat to travel back in time, either. I had to ride for an entire hour in an air-conditioned SUV to get there. What? It was a long hour, dangit!
Much like Juliette’s trip to the Dagorhir event, I made my way to the 22nd annual Tulare County Renaissance Faire in hopes of not only finding information on weaponry, but also recruit a few folks ready and able to survive a zombie attack. And boy oh boy did I find what I was looking for. Most of them were right there fighting on the battlefield, proving they knew how to handle a weapon. It was an impressive sight. I began to mentally picture the opposing army as zombies, though. The sun may have gotten to me a bit.
Let us tackle the big boys first, the cannons. For reenactment purposes the cannons at renaissance faires are not loaded. They do, however, actually use black powder. If you haven’t smelled black powder after its been ignited, it kinda smells like Lucifer himself his walking the battlefield, very sulfurous. Cannons are not very accurate. They do work well at whittling down armies to give foot soldiers a fighting chance and would cut down, say, a horde of zombies shambling across the field. A modern counterpart to the cannon has better aim and does more overall damage. The downfall is a lack of mobility unless the device is mounted on a vehicle.
For more mobile firepower, the Italian troops on the battlefield used matchlock muskets. As far as older guns go, the matchlock musket had the best firing mechanism was used everywhere and for a pretty long time. The downfall to the matchlock musket was that they take a long time to load. Often musketeers would be put into formations, giving them two to eight lines of men. The first line fired, moved to the back, and reloaded. Each subsequent line after would do the same. It worked well enough to take out armored soldiers on the opposite side, but like cannons there was no accuracy. For our purposes the load time on the musket would label someone “lunch”. But, modern guns are far more reliable and easier to use and reload. Remember, the ZSC’s number one weapon for the Zombiepocalypse is a rifle for a dang good reason.
Nothing gets me as jazzed about a fight as hearing the ringing clang of steel against steel. So, is it really that surprising that I’d mention swords in this? The Tudor era saw a few styles of sword blade. Thinner swords, designed to slip between joints in plate armor and pierce important parts of your opponent, were very useful as soldiers began to better resemble cans of tuna. Wide-bladed broadswords, as used in the battle I witnessed, were weighted to do the most amount of bludgeoning damage as they could. Fighters knocked their opponent senseless and used the slashing edge to cut up the other man. Lack of medical attention was usually what killed their opponent in the long run unless they got a clear deathblow in. Gangrene isn’t pretty. I’d rather take a sword to the head.
Speaking of oversized cans of tuna… There are a few layers to a full set of armor. First, clothes (don’t roll your eyes, this is an educational piece). On top of the clothes sits a chain mail shirt made of rings that have been riveted together. Chain mail makes it harder to pierce between the joints of the armor, but not impossible with the proper weapon. The suit of armor came last. The various pieces of the upper body all strapped together with leather belting. Leg armor wrapped around the soldier’s leg, held in place by more leather strapping and left a huge vulnerable spot if he were attacked from the rear. While a full set of armor weights upwards of 45 pounds, soldiers remain surprisingly agile. I’ve seen some of them doing somersaults on the battlefield with no problems whatsoever. The downfall of plate armor was that it provided little protection against bullets and arrows, a problem modern armor is designed specifically to protect again. However, with the exception of the exposed sections of leg, plate armor would be more effective to keep the undead from sinking their teeth into you.
Going back in time via a renaissance faire is an excellent way to learn more about the origins of the weaponry you all will be expected to use when the dead decide they’ve got a mad case of the munchies. Study up. And if you can, visit a local faire. The men and women there can tell you a lot, not only about weapons, but about how to survive in times without cell phones and computers.
There was brief moment when I entered the Gates of Fire this past weekend where I seriously considered bolting. I’d like to say it had nothing to do with the orcs and elves and dudes with swords traipsing past me –but actually it was a conversation that I suppose was in English that involved units, realms, Urk Kuldar and something called a Dragonhood that really freaked me out.
But the Zombie Survival Crew commander-in-chief is no chicken.
Since we discovered the Unnamed Government Agency is not the ally we once thought it was, Zombie Survival Crew Command is actively recruiting fighters for the Zombiepocalypse. And where better to find true warriors than a Dagorhir event?
As the weekend unfolded in a haze of campfire smoke, exotic foods, even more exotic drinks and a mystery “skunk” that walked past the tent led by a ‘being’ called Dante, I learned some valuable lessons about the Dagorhirim and their world (and picked up a posse of protectors). There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that not only are these gentlemen and ladies perfect recruits for the ZSC, but engagement with them will enhance any ZSC member’s combat readiness. They’re experts in hand-to-hand combat, have survival gear by the truckload and can make a fire (and a meal) out of just about anything.
In order to save both sides from any potential friendly fire incidents, I suggest the following as reasons and rules of engagement for Zombie Survival Crew cadres and the Dagorhirim:
Rule #1 – Smile and nod. Zombie Survival Crew brigade members are unlikely to understand half of what the Dagorhirim say anyway, so just smile.and.nod
Rule #2 – Top recruitment target units are Sparta and Rome. These units are among the most cohesive and organized. And, hell, just look at this Spartan, Lith, striking out with his sword.
Rule #3 – Beware of Merkwood off the field of battle They are a lively, uber-friendly bunch but you are quite likely to find yourself in a “dare, double-dare” kind of situation with these guys that you can’t quite get out of without injuring yourself.
Rule #4 – Top individual recruits are Dagorhirim along the lines of Ogre, Mac, Viccer, Vors and Cancer. These guys are either tall or big, or both, and excellent to hide behind. I’ve already staked claim to the space behind Viccer during battle –the guy’s sword is as tall as I am, so I’m calling that a win.
Rule #5 – Do not accept anything to consume from the Apollyon leader Blackhawk –especially after dark when it is harder to see what he’s handing you. Just trust me on this one.
Rule #6- When you find yourself in battle with the Dagorhirim, you *may* find it a little confusing at first. At one point, I couldn’t tell if I was coming or going and then I got clocked by an arrow in the head so it really didn’t matter. However, Zombie Survival Crew Command recommends brigade members consider attending Dagorhir events and participating in the melee fights to prepare for urban-setting fighting during the Zombiepocalypse.
Rule #7 – It is probably wisest to avoid those who appear to be speaking in tongues. While they’re not zombies, and thus should not be put down, attempting to carry on a conversation with these individuals will give you a headache. Please, just trust the chief on this one.
Rule #8 – It might seem natural to focus recruitment efforts towards the males of Dagorhir. This is a mistake. The female fighters –like Fyxe, Havok, and Arzus– are tough, trained and worth a dozen men.
Rule #9 – Beside combat and basic survival skills, the Dagorhirim have among them talented seamstresses and tailors, like Kevat, who should be considered high value recruits. When the Zombiepocalypse hits it’s going to be hell on the wardrobe, and when the inevitable rips and tears occur you won’t be able to just wander into a Wal-mart for quick replacements.
Rule #10 – Don’t let the pallor of their skin fool you. Unlike Tolkien’s Orcs, the Orcs of Dagorhir –like Gix, Vors and Surg– are actually quite friendly. They’re also quick on their feet and loyal.
You’ve been a good crewmember, done all of the necessary prep work. Your go bag is packed and next to the front door. A map with various escape routes and possible safe havens is sitting nearby. Your trusty shotgun is cleaned, loaded, and standing by. Heck, you’ve even taken up jogging to make sure you can outrun the zombies when the time comes. But I fear even some of your die-hard and supremely prepared ZSC commanders have forgotten a key component to survival in the Zombiepocalypse…
All the jogging in the world will not sustain you in the long run after the zombies take over. Feet can only get you so far. What if you find yourself trapped in a large city when the disease begins to spread throughout the population? Within days the undead to living ratio will be completely skewed, and not in the survivor’s favor. At that point the only option is to flee heavily populated areas for rural outposts.
Choosing a vehicle is much like choosing what items to include in your go bag or what weapon to use an extension of your arm. It is important to keep in mind personal comfort as well as utility. Obviously a family isn’t going to be able to travel and pack enough supplies into a Volkswagen Bug. Likewise, single people would make a huge target of themselves by traveling in a motor home, or something that massive in scale.
We should take a moment to note that if you do plan to relocate during the Zombiepocalypse, you need to do so within the first weeks. Gas supplies will likely run out quickly and it is doubtful that fuel tankers will be making a trip to your local station to top off the tanks while walkers are trying to gnaw on their arms. You can give yourself a buffer of sorts by storing gasoline in a safe place, but only by days, maybe. There are simply too many variables at play during times of crisis. Even the best-laid plans can go awry. Plan on traveling as early into the crisis as possible to ensure you have enough gas to get to your destination, with enough left in the tank to move in case of an emergency.
Back to vehicle choices… Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are ideal for our purposes. Generally SUVs have plenty of storage space and adequate seating for a family. A small family could even sleep inside, however we do not encourage making this arrangement permanent. There is enough sound dampening inside an SUV (or any car, really) to rob you of the ability to hear the undead closing in. Sleeping inside your vehicle should only be done in an emergency and in an area you’ve scouted and found free of zombies.
Mini vans, despite their bad rep as an ego killer, offer a little more space to sit in. They are tight on storage space, though. We do not recommend tying anything to the roof of your vehicle to make up for this lack of space. It is too easy dragged off if you find yourself surrounded by walkers. You are also left vulnerable while awkwardly balanced on the tire of your car and rooting around to get what you need. Make sure everything you plan to take fits inside with you.
Pickup trucks, while seemingly perfect for survival, are actually a huge liability. The cab space will only accommodate maybe three people comfortably and all of your supplies are out of reach. In order to get to anything you have to step outside of the safety of your vehicle. Not ideal unless you are traveling a short distance and have a safe haven to store all of your stuff in as soon as you get there. We suggest avoiding trucks if possible.
Is there a perfect vehicle for surviving the Zombiepocalypse as a nomad? You bet your Aunt Fanny! Unfortunately, it only exists on film. Dead Reckoning (as seen in Romero’s Land of the Dead) was made to barrel through zombie hoards. She’s equipped with enough guns to make even us jealous, is fully armored, and comes with a system to shoot off fireworks. Fireworks? In Romero’s films the zombies are so simple-minded that fireworks keep them completely distracted and unaware of what was driving past. A big vehicle like Dead Reckoning can sneak by without so much as a snarl. It became very useful when time came to head out to collect supplies.
Would it be great to have a vehicle like Reckoning? Totally. Reasonable? Only slightly. If there were a large city to help maintain, then the answer would easily be yes. But you become sitting ducks gathering together in one place. The sounds, smells, and lights from the people in the city would draw the attention of the undead eventually. It is better to be alone or in a small group than stuck in a large population of people who are a zombie horde waiting to happen.
So take a moment while you are planning your escape routes and decide on a vehicle that will best suit your purposes. Once you’ve decided, head over to GetFanged.com. The ZSC has started a discussion over there about which car you think would be key to surviving the Zombiepocalypse.