There are many mistakes that a person can make when trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. This article will cover some of the main mistakes that you don't want to make during your first time in the zombie-plagued wasteland.

Combating Zombies

Lighting Zombies on Fire

Although it is a tempting concept, refrain from using fire to combat the undead. Most zombies are oblivious to fire, much less afraid of it, and although fire does eventually kill zombies, it takes a long time to do so and since they are unfeeling, they will continue to come at you, now even more dangerous. The flaming ghouls are also a threat to your place of refuge and any supplies that you have within it. Also, zombies reanimated through radiation are highly flammable and will set fire to pretty much anything. It’s bad enough being chased by creatures that want to eat you, but do you really need to be chased by FLAMING creatures that want to eat you?

Using a close-range Weapon

Although melee weapons are common in zombie films, games and books and many self-proclaimed experts suggest the use of melee weapons, they should be a last resort only. The close range required to engage the zombie will increase the chance of getting infected by either bite or the blood splatter. Heavy objects such as hammers and axes aren’t for beginners. Also, most melee weapons won't break a human skull in one hit. Remember, while headshots are the most effective, blunt force trauma alone won’t destroy a zombie, and damage below the brain will only slow it down.

Underestimating the Undead

Although zombies are in essence the mangled, decomposed corpses of humans, that does not make them any less deadly. When in a zombie-filled environment, you must resist the temptation to underestimate them .Always remember , no matter how weak they are they only need ONE good bite to finish you off. For starters, avoid close-range combat with ghouls, you have a much better chance of defeating the undead if you stay out of range of their arms. When you are fighting in close proximity to the walking dead, do not try to overpower it. Even if you do manage to wrestle it to the ground, it can easily bite your arm or hand, infecting you on the spot. On another note, don't underestimate the senses of the undead. Although they don't look like it, they have a good sense of hearing and can locate you if you make too much noise. That being said, don’t set off any loud objects, such as car alarms, airhorns, fire alarms, smoke alarms, sirens, or whistles. These can and will attract hordes.

Another thing to remember: zombies are no longer your loved ones. “Sentient“ (I.e. zombies that act human) zombies only exist in children’s fiction. They will not recognize friends and family; their sole motivation is to kill you.

Removing the Head

The two main ways to kill a zombie are to remove the head or destroy the brain. Cutting the legs off will only make the zombie drag itself towards you. Depending on the Zombie anatomy, removing the head alone will make them immobile but it doesn't mean that they'll stop trying to infect or eat you. It'll just be a hindrance until they can bite you in the ankle. Play it safe and destroy the brain as insurance in case the Zombie finds an opportunity to bite you. It may seem stupid but a zombie is still a zombie.

Style over Substance

It's generally the case that the more complex or overwhelmingly powerful the weapon you are using, the greater chance you'll die (good examples of such weapons are chainsaws, large caliber handguns, machine guns and flamethrowers). The reason for this is simple and spans the entire history of human conflict. Societies have developed methods of warfare designed to be used with increasing efficiency against living enemies whereas conflict against the undead takes place on a more basic level with one goal: destroying the brain.

High tech weaponry and gear can also create a false sense of security, a dangerous attitude of assumed invincibility. This effect is especially true to those who choose to wear armor. Wearing clothing and a hairstyle that will deter a zombie from grabbing you is far superior to just about any armor on the market today. When the dead rise, some of the first casualties will be the show-offs, attempting to look like some sort of bad-ass from an action film and getting themselves killed in the process. Simple methods, tools and weapons are often safer and/or more efficient to use, and style counts for nothing in a survival situation. Remember, if you see a potential weapon and think to yourself "I'd look damn cool fighting a zombie with this thing!", you should probably reconsider.

When it comes to clothes; dress practically, not fashionably. Baggy clothes will just cause you to trip over, jewellery (rings, necklaces, etc.) will just be used as something to trade for more useful equipment. Bandits and raiders will just want to steal your jewellery and won't care if you're alive or dead afterwards. Only wear clothes that are suitable for the enviroment (i.e. winter clothes for the winter seasons) and won't effect your mobility. Wear practical, light clothing so you won't be encumbered and forget about perfumes and aftershaves if zombies have a sensitive sense of smell. Keep your hair short, tucked in, or covered unless you want someone or something to grab it.

Time and a Place

A common trope in zombie fiction is that people think they can talk about anything in any situation. Always check your ammo before running into battle, check your equipment before going on a journey, and don't tell life changing secrets while zombies are swarming the area you're in. When entering a building, your first priority is to check if it's free of zombies and hostile occupants. Make sure your team mates are in fighting form are comfortable working with each other, the last thing you want is your team breaking into a fight and alerting everyone to your position. In the apocalypse, safety must always come first.

Weapon Use

Many newcomers to the world of the undead go with the "super commando" strategy: load up on the biggest and most impressive weapons, and then run around killing as many zombies as they can. This is ultimately pointless, as a survivor's primary goal in a zombie apocalypse should not be the destruction of zombies, but simply that of long-term survival. If the infection has progressed to the point to be described as an "apocalypse", there will inevitably be far too many zombies for even a large group of survivors to effectively destroy. This is further exacerbated when the "super commando" has no experience or only the most basic idea of how to use the weapons in general, especially against zombies.

The zombies are mainly depicted as navigating through the environment by hearing sounds, if a survivor goes in guns blazing in order to fight zombies then the survivor will be quickly overwhelmed by zombies due to their attraction to sound or the survivor will waste too much ammo resulting in difficulty escaping from the horde of zombies that they summoned due to the gunfire.

Silencers are going to be your best friend in the outbreak, using explosives or other loud, heavy guns will just ring the dinner bell for a nearby horde. Take light weapons that you can trust your life to and forget the flashier weapons. Knives are a multitool in the apocalypse but not swords due to their decline in modern use, tanks seem like a cool alternative for taking on the horde but you need military training in how to use it, same goes for helicopters. Depending on your stature, weapons (like miniguns, bazookas, even rifles if you're a child) may be too heavy to use and might just knock you over. Use blunt objects since they are easy to use and use small firearms for concealment and lighter weight. Finally, learn how to make bullets and learn how to use a gun.

Unarmed combat should only be used against hostile survivors and as a last resort against zombies, if you're clumsy then a zombie might just bite you or scratch you during the fight. Your wounds from the fight might get contaminated from zombie blood or entrails. Unarmed combat against humans should also be used as a last resort but only as an ambush strategy; the survivor will just shoot you or stab you if you run headfirst at them and the survivor may only use unarmed combat as well if they are sadistic or desperate.

Vehicular Attacks

While using a car is better for transporting yourself and or your group to new areas, it's a bad idea to use a car as a weapon by either driving into zombies or letting your partner use weapons while you drive because you will lose focus and crash your car which can result in your death. Car fuel can also be hard and rare to find due to other groups getting fuel for their cars as well. It's also a bad idea to use cars as weapons because if you survive the car crash or the car runs out of fuel then you will be trapped with a group of zombies. There’s also a chance of stronger zombies smashing through your windshield or windows. Also, always roll up your windows and lock your doors when exiting. This helps prevent theft and from zombies or criminals hiding in your vehicle.

Unlucky Survivors

Zombies were once human, while some zombies were created in the first few weeks of the outbreak, the zombies multiplied within a few months. Survivors tend to forget that the recently infected zombies were survivors once, survivors expect zombies to be either hiding in buildings or hiding in homes but they don't acknowledge that zombies can be in air vents or under cars. They may also have loot on their bodies that can be incredibly useful, survivors will carry weapons, ammo, and light food for the journey.

For example, a survivor could have tried to hide in an air vent in order to escape an approaching horde but could die in the vents by either getting lost, starvation, dehydration, or they could have been unknowingly infected. If the survivor in the vent became a zombie, then it means that there is a zombie in the vent which could easily kill a survivor by accidentally falling out of the vent or the survivor jumping into the vent to escape the zombies, but due to the claustrophobic environment of the vent shaft, the survivor will have difficulty reaching their weapon to save themselves.

To avoid this it's best to do a scan of the vents after checking the base or by sealing the vents, most buildings will have a machine in order to scan for shaft damages or blockages. Only consider sealing the vents as a last resort because you will still need another form of escape in case you are trapped. Also always check the cars for zombies before driving or salvaging for fuel.

Keep in mind that pets will often hide in dangerous places to escape zombies. If you have a large dog, such as a Great Dane, German Shepard, or pitbull, these can be effective guard dogs and can be used in attacks or retrieving items. Horses can be used for transport or travel, although cars are preferred. Smaller animals, such as cats and fish, will have to be looked after in a safe area.

Leave all unnecessary items behind. Things can be replaced; you can’t.


Learn how to wield a knife for combat, hunting, or escapology. Knives are going to be your best friend in the apocalypse because most survivors will have a higher chance of holding a knife to quickly and silently kill zombies or other humans. Knives are also used to cut a rope, sharpen wood to use as spears, and hunt animals. Don't rely on knives as your only weapon, but always keep one on your person as a multitool as well as a weapon.


Don't rely on simply killing or outrunning a zombie or human criminal. Use the environment to your advantage by setting traps, wearing camouflage, or using rocks to bludgeon them to death, or by carving tree branches into spears. Speakers and noisemakers can be very useful in certain situations, you can lure zombies into traps by playing music as loud as possible over steep cliffs or off of rooftops. In other cases, you can use loud noises to lure zombies to one area while you investigate another. Make sure you know every entrance and exit before running into a building and avoid elevators as much as possible.


Many people don't really consider weapons or armour weight. When imagining a fight with the undead, you'd picture yourself wielding a minigun and a full suit of armour. This is a terrible idea for a number of reasons; first being is that you'd essentially be a walking dinner bell for all zombies in the area. Secondly, you'd need a lot of strength to move as you'd be weighed down by the equipment, forcing slower movement and when you've fallen to the ground, making you vulnerable to attacks. You'll have some trouble getting back up if you survive that long. Thirdly, both the armour and weapons will need maintenance from hard to find materials. Finally, you will need a longer time limit to prepare yourself for battle, and getting out of your armour will take just as long. 

Play it safe by getting lighter equipment, you will need speed and discipline to survive the horde. You may have more defences while wearing heavy armour, but once you're out of bullets or pinned to the ground, you're at the mercy of a zombie. Worst-case scenario, when and if you reanimate, you'll be the hardest zombie to kill.


Rescuing People

When the outbreak strikes, many people feel strongly compelled to search for friends or family to rescue them, without considering the circumstances or making any plans or preparations whatsoever. Simply rushing out to go and save someone without even the vaguest notion of where exactly they are, how you're going to get there or how you'll defend yourself against the undead will only get you killed, and you won't be able to help anyone if you're dead (or, worse, undead). Take a moment to consider the circumstances before departing on any haphazard rescue missions:

  • Distance: The greater the distance between your friend or family member and you, the more difficult it will probably be to reach them, and the greater the probability that they won't be there when you arrive.
  • Location: If they live in a remote or sufficiently defensible area, they may be safer than you are. Don't get yourself killed by rushing to them assuming they need your help this instant when they may not be in danger.

Underestimating Survivors

Always use violence as the last resort when dealing with other survivors, unless they are a threat to you and beyond redemption. Don't act like the toughest person in the room and don't expect to be treated like royalty because you're an outsider. Be wary of other survivors but don't be hostile to them until they are proven to be a threat.

The Scorpion's Dilema

Compassion and empathy shouldn't be solely relied on when it comes to surviving the apocalypse, people will act on their own interests and resort to any means necessary to survive. Rescuing someone will allow them to use you as zombie bait for their own safety, sometimes, people can't be reasoned with and are determined to ruin or kill themselves. Empathy and compassion are beautiful things but aren't enough to save people from themselves.

Re-populating the planet

In movies based on an apocalyptic event, there will always be more than one person who suggests repopulating the planet, This is a bad idea for a number of reasons; humanity may still be trying to find the right survival tactics in order to defeat zombies so producing more offspring without survival knowledge will merely increase the body count, Medical professionals are going to be a rare sight because they are probably the first to become infected when treating zombie bites at the start of the outbreak meaning that if a pregnant woman was due to give birth then they may die of easily preventable infections (in a world without antibiotics) or blood loss.

In order to repopulate the planet, you would need roughly need two hundred or more people but there might not be enough people due to the near-genocide of the human race. Babies are also ill-advised in a zombie apocalypse because a baby will cry at the first sign of distress which can result in the attraction of zombies. Save the re-population for after you have learned how to survive or when the zombies are greatly reduced to a point where they can be easily exterminated or rendered extinct. This isn't to say that survivors should stop having sex in general, survivors should try to find some birth control pills or condoms when going through stores. A zombie infection may have topped all existing diseases and infection in terms of danger, but the previous diseases will still exist.

Know When to Run

To win is to survive, you need to understand that you can't win every fight by killing everything in your way. Learn when to run and hide, and learn how to set traps or deceive the zombies. Zombies can lose interest overtime if they find louder, more vulnerable prey. In some situations, you may have to abandon teammates in favour of your own survival, some people may sacrifice themselves as zombie bait by either commiting suicide or by foolishly believing they can take on an entire horde of zombies by themselves. Some people are just determined to ruin themselves and you shouldn't sacrifice yourself for such a fruitless endeavor.

Sexual Assault

The gender of the survivor is irrelevant but some survivors won't see it that way, when it's the apocalypse survivors will do anything in a frenzy and because the authorities are no longer a problem for them. Some survivors (regardless if they are male or female) will feel that they are entitled to sex for saving other survivors or will try to commit sexual crimes (i.e paedophilia or rape).

Social Darwinism

Social Darwinism is the belief that only the strongest will survive the apocalypse; not the elderly, not the children, nobody with a disability (mentally or physically). Humans are social creatures and survive best in communities and groups, and can be driven insane from isolation and social deprivation. Strength isn't the only way to survive the outbreak, you need to be smart and willing to do what's necessary to survive. There should be enough roles in a group or in a community for people who are not able to survive journeys, hunting trips, and supply runs.


Due to the zombies heavily restricting the utilities of the survivors, people will grow their hair to ridiculous lengths and make it very long. Machinary, zombies and hostile survivors will grab the hair and it will definitely cause problems so you will need to keep your hair short or tucked into your collar. Forget dying your hair or using hair products; the zombies won't care, and the survivors will have more important things to think about than your looks when they're looking for loot. Either keep your hair short or shave it off entirely so nothing can grab you or get caught in the machinary. In some situations, the smell of hair products might lure zombies to you if they have a sensitive sense of smell. Hair dye can be a double edged sword; you can stand out as an ally and be recognisable, but you will be conspicuous to your enemies and you won't be able to hide in a crowd.


Elevators should never be used in a zombie apocalypse; unless you have a technician or repairman in your group, nobody will be able to fix an elevator if it breaks down mid-use. One of two things can happen, you can be trapped inside it until you either die or get rescued (if you're lucky). The other thing that can happen is that you may be trapped inside the elevator with a zombie; either your fellow survivor reanimated while sharing the elevator with you, or the zombie caused the elevator to jam by getting stuck between the elevator and current floor. You also don't know what's on the other side of the elevator door, so it might open to a horde of zombies on the other side. You can escape through the hatch on the elevator ceiling but it requires the doors to be open on the other floors.


In a majority of zombie fiction, outbreaks tend start during the day and cars tend to be unlocked or broken into. In real life, store owners and car owners will have their alarms set and they will go off if it seems that someone is trying to break into them. It's unrealistic to say that you can find the keys or a cooperative owner during the outbreak. Either strategically use the alarms to lure away unsuspecting zombies or learn how to both lockpick and hotwire vehicles to avoid any trouble. If you are in a store, grab as much as possible and as quickly as possible before the zombies hear the dinner bell and investigate.

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