Undead humans who hanker for brains? What a bunch of hooey. Zombies aren’t real. Right? Who believes in zombies, anyway? Not us. But still … it pays to be prepared. So, whether you’re face-toface with a band of brainmunching freaks or simply lost in the woods, follow these tips to survive.
How To: Light a Fire
Zombies are scared of fire. Rescuers, however, will spot a bright blaze from miles away.
- Find tinder. Tinder is fluffy material that easily ignites such as paper, potato chips, pine needles, dead grass, birch bark, cattail fluff, mouse nests, or cedar shavings.
- Gather kindling and fuel. Kindling is bone-dry, pencil-sized twigs that light quickly but burn long enough to catch bigger branches — the fuel — on fire. Collect kindling and fuel from dead trees and limbs that are still standing. Wood lying on the ground is usually too damp to burn.
- Pick a spot sheltered from wind and rain, and clear the area of anything that might catch on fire.
- Start with a fist-sized wad of loose, fluffy tinder. Stack kindling upright around the tinder to form a teepee shape. Place the thinnest twigs closest to the tinder and larger ones farther out.
- Light the tinder. If you don’t have matches, use a magnifying glass or the lens from your glasses, camera, or binoculars to focus sunlight onto the tinder. Move the lens until you see a pinpoint of white-hot light then hold steady. When the tinder begins to glow, blow gently to coax up a flame.
- Once the kindling is burning, add bigger sticks.
How To: Build a Lean-To
Shelter keeps you hidden from hungry zombies. It also traps heat to keep you warm, provides shade to keep you cool, and shields you from wind and rain. Find a cave, an overhanging bluff, a fallen tree, or a bushy evergreen tree to hunker under. If you can’t find natural shelter, build a lean-to.
- Find a long, sturdy branch and lean it against a low hanging limb.
- Hang a tarp over the branch and stake it to the ground with heavy rocks or logs.
- If you don’t have a tarp, prop leafy branches against the leaning branch.
How To: Gather Food
A full tummy gives you energy to outwit zombies. If you’re short on food, gather nuts or pick wild fruits such as blackberries, persimmons, or pawpaws. Be careful, though! Just because fruit looks tasty, doesn’t mean you can eat it. Don’t munch anything you’re not 100 percent sure is safe to eat. If you crave protein, go fishing.
- Whittle a piece of green wood into a pointy toothpick.
- Cut a shallow groove in the middle, and tie a piece of cord around the groove.
- Cover both ends of the toothpick with worms or some other wiggly bait.
- Toss the “hook” into the water and wait. Fish will swallow the bait, and — if you’re lucky — the toothpick will get lodged sideways in the fish’s stomach.
Remember: If you’re truly starving, do whatever it takes to survive. But during normal circumstances, you must follow hunting and fishing laws.
How To: Find Water
Fleeing from zombies sure can make you thirsty. If you run out of water, here are a few ways to quench your thirst.
- Rain is safe to drink. Use water bottles (or any other clean container) to catch rain as it falls. You can even dig a shallow pit and line it with a raincoat to collect rain.
- Dew is safe to drink. Tie clean clothes or bandanas around your ankles. At sunrise, walk through low-growing vegetation until the clothes are soaked with dew. Wring the dew into a cup or suck it out of the clothes.
- Water from streams, ponds, or any other source contains germs. To make it safe to drink, pour it through a sock or shirt to strain out mud, algae, and insects. Then — and this is essential — boil the water for at least a minute.