Vacant eyes. Eerie moans. Rotting flesh. Freshly reanimated corpses, even those of friends and loved ones, that adamantly refuse to die again. All this, plus an insatiable appetite … for us. These are some of the dreadful characteristics of the walking dead, more commonly referred to as zombies.
However, in this turbulent and progressive world, where these so-called supernatural phenomena are all too often cast away, knowledge of the undead may be limited to what is seen in Hollywood horror flicks. Therefore, it is crucial that the general public has at least a rudimentary understanding of the truth behind zombies. Perhaps analyzing their origins, attributes and other features will teach individuals, proper preparation and survival techniques, giving them a fighting chance in a future outbreak. The next undead epidemic may arrive sooner than you anticipate!
The zombie myth has pervaded many cultures around the globe, for thousands and thousands of years. While this may indeed lend credence to the claim that such creatures do in fact exist, it is more important to distinguish hard facts about undead origin from simple legends. Max Brooks, somewhat of an expert in this field, published “The Zombie Survival Guide” to aid the average person in better understanding zombies.
The reanimation of the dead is most likely not the result of voodoo magic or based in folklore. According to Brooks, there is a sound, scientific explanation behind this disease: The Solanum virus. He asserts that Solanum is a pathogenic agent transmitted through the bloodstream (hence, the danger of being bitten by a zombie), and that it attacks the host’s brain, leading to cessation of all bodily functions. The victim is essentially considered dead, except for the fact that the virus has now taken complete control of the body for its own purposes.
In case of a zombie outbreak, Brooks also provides some characteristic symptoms to keep a watchful eye out for: Pain and decay of the infected (presumably bitten) area, fever, vomiting, dementia, numbing of the body, paralysis, coma and eventual heart stoppage. Keep in mind that the undead are wholly different organisms from their deceased human hosts, as they are not capable of emotional attachment or any intelligent activity for that matter. All that a survivor can do to interact with any recently-turned corpse is to blow its brains out.
When fighting the undead, perhaps the most significant aspect relates to just that. How can one successfully defend against a zombie, or in more unfortunate circumstances, a whole horde of them? Due to modern technology, the array of combat tools to choose from may seem mind-boggling. However, breaking them down into categories may make it easier to determine which weapon is the right choice.
Brooks believes that close-combat weapons are very important, because if forced into an intimate encounter with the undead, these will come in handy. They can range from common items such as crowbars and hammers to effective instruments of decapitation, such as the samurai katana. Firearms, with the choice of gun being very individual and situation-dependent, can be incredibly helpful if used correctly. Other weapon classes include power tools such as chainsaws, bows and arrows and other manual long-range devices, explosives, et cetera. Regardless of which weapon is chosen, constant training and experience is important as knowing every intricate part of one’s tool may be the difference between life and death.
Last, but not least, location is obviously a vital factor in a survival scenario. While it is feasible that a plague could start so suddenly that one is trapped in their current location, planning is preferable. In general, modifications to the building structure and stocking of supplies are key. Zombies can indeed shatter glass and break down doors, especially in great numbers, so fortify all such areas.
If a break-in inevitably occurs, keep a well-known escape route ready if needed. Enough equipment, firepower and sustenance should be available that one can hold out for extended periods of time.
These tips may serve as a basic jumping-off point for further research into strategy and preparation for a survival event. It may be wise to invest more time in learning about the enemy now that this information has been made available. After all, many of the recently recorded zombie events were in the state of California, so keep a careful look out for suspicious activity and unusual news reports!

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