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General Survival Guidelines

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These guidelines represent the most important and universal themes behind surviving a zombie encounter. The word used is "guidelines" in difference to the notion that there are no universal "laws" to survival, and that every situation is different. These guidelines should apply regardless of type of zombie or scale of outbreak. They should be ordered by approximate importance from top to bottom. Discussion of their approximate ranking is ongoing, and reserved for this articles discussion page.



  • Always have some sort of weapon.
  • Prioritize your needs: Basic needs are food, water and shelter. Companionship is fairly important too. Things of value in the previous world (such as money and smaller comforts) must be secondary.
  • Strength in numbers: With more populace, your refuge will not only be more defended, but can provide itself food and other necessities. However, larger populations are more likely to put a strain on supplies and attract much more attention.
  • Avoid population centers wherever possible: Zombies are generally located in the area where it reanimated. Overrun cities will contain thousands, if not millions of infected.
  • In combat, remaining calm is the most important thing: Panic rarely leads to anything but death. Slow, deep breaths bring more oxygen to the brain and calm one's nerves. At the same time, one has to know when to act without hesitation.
  • Use range and distance: While zombies don't defend themselves in a conventional capacity, melee combat can be risky. Severing a spine or destroying a skull is not always an easy task. As author Cormac McCarthy once wrote "Even in the battle between man and steer (referencing a slaughterhouse incident), the outcome is not certain". Keeping your distance from zombies decreases the natural and formidible stress that accompanies their prescence, and it gives one more time to manage their actions.
  • Always expect trouble/always be alert: Famed boxing champion Mike Tyson once said "Everyone has a plan.... until they get punched in the mouth". No plan is foolproof. Expect things to go wrong. Prepare contingency plans. Never lower your guard. Develop the habit of visualizing where important things are (exits, weapons, people, supplies, etc). When travelling through unsecured grounds, constantly look around and listen. Be aware of any actions being taken that may attract more zombies.
  • Observe firearm safety protocol at all times: Never assume a gun is unloaded. Even after unloading is verified, never wield a firearm inappropriately. Never allow it to point in a direction that is unsafe to one's self, or one's group. Be aware of when the last time it was cleaned and oiled. Be aware what types of ammunition the gun will work with.
  • A one-time solution is rarely a solution: Everything one does or needs must be sustainable and repeatable, or the eventual lack of resources will be as fatal as a zombie bite. Long term thinking is critical for survival.
  • Melee weapons rarely one-shot: The human body has evolved to absorb damage, the brain being one of the most protected parts. Unless one is either very skilled, or very strong, most zombie kills by way of melee weapon will require multiple swings. This should always be expected and planned for. Sometimes attacking the neck to sever the spinal cord can be preferable to only attacking the skull. This merely disables the zombie (leaving infection through a bite still possible), but then the finishing blow can be delivered unimpeded.
  • Resource per kill: The more zombies in an area, the more valuble each bullet becomes. Use them sparingly. Semi-automatic fire with the proper amount of time and proper form can conserve a resource that will be literally worth more than its weight in gold.
  • Conserve valuble energy: While melee combat does not consume ammunition, it does consume energy. Few people are athletic enough to wield a skull smashing weapon for hours on end, and adrenaline will not last forever. Ration swings, manage one's own blood sugar levels with nutritious food, and always try to save the last bit of energy for retreat to safer ground.
  • Practice worst case combat scenarios: During down time, practice clearing gun jams. How this is done differs from survivor to survivor, and from weapon to weapon. Cycling, reloading, and fieldstipping are all options. Know your weapon well. Try to simulate combat situations within reason.
  • When travelling, always be on the lookout for possible locations of supplies and shelters.
  • Survival of the Fittest/Nature be not kind: In human civilization, generosity, compassion, and sacrifice usually serve to improve circumstances for all. When there is no civilization, many otherwise admirible qualities of humanity become luxuries that can be easily exploited, and lead to needless deaths. It is up to every individual to decide for themselves how much "humanity" they can afford.
  • Remember the enemy may be gone but the threat lives on: Even if you have killed all the zombies in a given area, some may have heard their moans off in the distance.
  • Improve your base: When you have time, upgrade your defenses or increase the sight range of your base.
  • Do not stay in one place for too long: Even if you have succeeded in getting all your friends to your base, fortified it with protection, have a working garden, and are completely equipped to survive, if you stay in one place too long, you will be swarmed. The question is then will your defenses hold? Does the group truly have everything it needs there? Moving on might be a good idea.
  • Investigate whether there are nuclear power plants in the area: Just because human civiilzation has stopped, that doesn't mean the radioactive fuel rods used in many power plants cease to create energy and radiation. Without oil to power the refrigeration on spent rods, all power plants will suffer major radioactive fires, whose winds can carry radioactive debris dozens of miles away. This is just another reason rural areas with freshwater lakes are very desirable resources.
  • Invisibility may be more important than strength: Whether the threat is the undead, or a gang of bandits, being undetected and left alone by hostile parties is greatly undervalued. While fighting to preserve life, procure resources, or protect territory can lead to increased chances of survival, generally every instance of combat lowers one's chances. Avoiding combat is often a smarter alternative than engaging in combat. Being difficult to detect with camoflague, a good hiding spot, or knowledge of backroads, sewers, or other stealthy means of travel can be more valuble than any weapon.


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