Turns out you don’t need to anticipate a zombie apocalypse to prepare for the worst. There are things I’ve learned from watching Rick lead the others on The Walking Dead that I’m sure would come in useful in the aftermath of a hurricane or an earthquake, for instance, or a terrorist attack. So, gather your Zombie survival gear and start reading.
How can you compare zombies and a hurricane and other natural disasters? At many levels, the situation is similar. The world is chaotic, social structure crumbles, and people can become savages when they are faced with hunger and food shortage. They can steal and even kill in order to feed themselves and their families. That’s the kind of breakdown we need to prepare for, and here’s what the Walking Dead taught me about surviving in such a world.
Never Let Your Guard Down
This is the most valuable lesson I’ve tucked away from Rick’s repeated warnings to the others. This simply means staying alert, which is exactly what survival trainers and guidebooks tell you to do at all times. The simple rule will apply whether there is an earthquake, an economic crisis and food shortage, a hurricane, a terrorist attack or a flood. You need to stay alert for a number of reasons.
- In the aftermath of the first shock of an earthquake, for instance, there is no way of knowing when the aftershocks will hit. These aftershocks can bring down the buildings that were damaged in the quake itself, so they can be deadly. Staying alert is the best you can do in this time of uncertainty after a quake.
- The neighbors may be coming to break down your door for supplies, though not with a pack of zombies in tow. Still, you need to be able to protect your supplies and your family, and be prepared for any kind of violence. A few days without food can turn completely sane, ordinary people into flesh eating savages. We’ve seen that all too often in The Walking Dead, but it’s not too big a stretch of the imagination to visualize your friendly and kindly neighbors scrambling and fighting for food at a local grocery store when no supplies are coming through, and power and communication lines are down.
Never Lose Your Humanity
Rick spends all of season four trying to show Carl by example that we have to preserve our humanity and not lose ourselves to the darkness of the soul that comes with the chaos of an apocalypse. In our zombie-free world, this could mean the morally ambiguous choices we are faced in a disaster – what should we do when a neighbor’s kid is dying for lack of food, and we have our last ration left with a family to feed? Keep our humanity, maybe share a little of it with the kid and immediately get thinking of how to source more food.
Break Rules For Your Kid’s Safety
In an apocalypse, the most important thing you need to do is keep your family and, if possible, friends, safe. You need to take charge. Sometimes, this means bending rules and playing the hypocrite. I’m talking, of course, about the incident of Carl shooting a boy who was not a danger and Carol killing Karen and David. The two are very similar incidents, but Rick banishes Carol, a punishment he doesn’t extend to Carl. Let’s face it; it’s hypocritical. Even so, it’s also human. We’re very likely to do the same ourselves, when faced with a disaster situation.
Always Carry Iodine
You never know when you have to fill up your bottle in the streams, when FEMA camps have been overrun or stored water resources get polluted with whatever bugs the terrorists sneak into them. Having iodine on them is not something the Walking Dead survivors thought to do in episode two of Season 5, but I’m certainly having a large box of tablets ready in my emergency cabinet, to grab when I run for the woods.
Accept that You May Become a Different Person
The breaking down of the structures of civilization brings out the worst in us. We’ve seen that with the survivors in the series. They have to take tough decisions, sometimes they have to be ruthless. Rick, for all his brilliant leadership, realizes that he is changing. He is having to become a monster to fight the monster. In the real world, it can be hard to imagine a scenario where we’re forced to be the same way. Nevertheless, you never can tell. When you’re forced into a chaotic world, you may need to become that guy or girl who goes to that tough place in order to take charge, to survive and protect the people you care about.
Prepare for Healthy Eating in a Post-apocalyptic World
One of the very practical things the show teaches us is what to eat in a post-apocalyptic world. It turns out; there are plenty of options and very healthy ones too. The survivors mostly eat fresh seafood and farm fresh eggs from chickens that a vet raises. These are all surprisingly healthy food options, and ones that are not over-processed or treated with antibiotics and hormones. I am not sure about the incident of Daryl eating the squirrel raw, but cooked squirrels can be an option as long as you’re carrying the means for a fire. Which also means that you shouldn’t underestimate your basic bushcraft skills such as building a fire come rain, hail or snow.
It’s also a good idea to learn a spot of gardening. If a post-disaster world stretches on for too long without emergency supplies, you may need to grow your own food. Planting, harvesting and cooking your own food may become your most sustainable means of survival. Plus, all that farming will help keep you fit and on your feet.
The Walking Dead is fiction. But, by following the above tips you can save yourself from natural disasters, riots and other bad stuff. So, be prepared. And who knows maybe the Zombie apocalypse may not be so far fetched after all?