“How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse” (REI)


On a whim, I signed up for a free class at REI.  I figured I had nothing to do that evening (other than everything); it sounded fun and would get me out of the house.  The class was booked up, so I put my name on the wait list and decided I’d go hang out even if I didn’t get a call because the worst that could happen was I would show up to a full class and I’d spend the evening at (nameless coffee-house) with a coffee and a good book-boyfriend.

The morning of the class I received a phone call that they had openings available, so I excitedly prepared for my evening of learning.  I even asked if my husband wanted to go with me; he decided that Thursday Night Football was more exciting.  His loss.

Readied with my trusty smart-phone and my coat, I braved the parking lot and found my way to the classroom.  A 4-page, photocopied handout and some lollipops were waiting next to the sign-in sheet.  My name wasn’t on the sheet, so I wrote it in and checked the waiver box.   Guess they were serious about the legal stuff!

I sat in the front row, because the voice of my parents echoes in my head to this day.  “Only bad kids sit in the back of the church; so you’d better be up front.”  <Yes, I need therapy and my counselor is aware my parents are in my head.>  I scanned the information on the handout; disappointed that some of the text was nearly impossible to read.  I hoped the instructor was prepared and equipped to handle a training of this nature; more than the handout provides.

A young pony-tailed man enters the room and greets me; flippantly discusses my position in the front row then smiles and greets the remainder of my classmates who are, characteristically-for-Redmond, late.   Apparently their urgency to learn about this subject is not as great as mine.  The man continues to chat amiably with the class and then looks up and shouts in surprise as a man stumbles down the aisle of the classroom.  His skin is blue-gray and he is wearing what appears to be a  “Chinaman’s Hat”.  Our instructor screams and runs out of the room, leaving us alone with the intruder.

Our stumbling blue-skinned intruder is hardly scary, but then I’m probably expecting the “Living Dead” (*) instead of “Vampire Lestat” <I am well aware that vampires are in a different classification than Zombies, but it’s my blog.>  Our “zombie impersonator” is even younger than the original man and I’m ready to get that coffee because, really?  Blue-grey skin?  White t-shirt and jeans?  Not even some bloodshot eyes or fake wounds?  How unrealistic!

Our “zombie impersonator” instructor is a 22-year-old who was born and raised in Redmond but spends his time now in Colorado on a “luxury dude ranch” (he says with a sneer) guiding tourists on hikes and trails.  He’s pretty personable and starts in right away with our class, leaving me no time to exit without making a scene.


His opening line makes me shiver a bit; “You’ve all heard the news that the CEO of REI is closing all stores on Black Friday because he wants everyone to get outdoors and enjoy the scenery instead of standing in line for a bigger, better flat screen or phone.”  (pause for effect) “The REAL reason he’s closing the store that day is because the Zombie Apocalypse has been planned for that day and he wants to give us all time to prepare.”  <Deadpan.  This guy is gooooood!>

Types of disasters

There are 3 types of disasters:

Natural — floods, earthquakes, etc.
Man-made — nuclear or atomic bombs, terrorism, etc.
Pandemic — H1N1 (Swine Flu), SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), H5N1 (Bird or Avian Flu), Ebola and Z0mb1

The method of infection for Z0mb1 is via bodily fluid or being bitten by an infected source

The best way to survive any disaster is to be prepared and have a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA).  Those with a will to survive, motivation and the abilities to stay calm, be determined and use good judgement have the best chances of survival.

th (2)

Stressors include injuries, watching people become infected or die, finances, food, water and first aid/supplies depletion.

First Aid course beneficial and may save your life or the lives of others.

Shelter important, make it lightweight for traveling or secure if staying in one place.  Obscure windows and keep lights to a minimum to avoid detection.  Flat areas, hilltops or in a clearing; also lake shores are ideal for camps or shelters.  Long-range visibility is a must!

You will need to be able to build and maintain a fire for cooking, drying clothing, cooking and purifying water.  Flint & steel, lighter, other methods of starting fires are imperative and should be in your emergency/disaster case.

You will need to have 1 gallon or purified water available for each person in your party per day.  Purification systems from sporting goods stores are ideal; boiling water is possible as well.

Food should be non-perishable, freeze-dried, MRE or ready-to-eat meals are preferable.  Canned foods are acceptable but may be heavy to carry and you will need to have a way to open the cans.

Communication with other survivors is essential; you may also need to keep informed of events, quarantined areas, etc.  Alerting other survivors of infestations is important as well.   Making noise is not advised as it will alert the infected to your location and will increase your detection.  Preferred forms of communication or signals include ground to air fire or flares, lights, signals or flags or cell phones.  Air horns or whistles are less favored due to the noise factor.  You will also need to have a weather radio with a hand crank.  You will also need to consider methods of charging cell phones or other electronics; solar chargers are relatively inexpensive and lightweight.  Extra batteries are helpful but only have a 6 month shelf life.

Identify your attacker

Two types of Zombies:
Fast movers and slow movers

Identification is key!

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Recognizing the Zombie:
Zombie creatures will moan, have a death stench, blue-grey or grey skin color and stumble or have jerky and unsteady movement and mobility.  Face will have grey tone and eyes may be bloodshot or glazed and unfocused.

Physiology of z0mb1

Infection always kills host over the course of contamination.

Initially the infected human will appear dead and be mobile (see “Recognizing the Zombie”), however over the course of the infection, the host will go through 5 stages:

Fresh new


Active decay

Advanced decay


There may be three stages of decomposition of the host; but limited samples exist for confirmation.

Lifespan of z0mb1 host is approximately 48 hours.


Host body is no stronger than they were when human.  So if you were a wimpy noodle as a human, you’re not going to be John Cena as a Zombie.

Zombies cannot be trained as pets (I really don’t understand this comment at all.  WHO WOULD WANT A PET ZOMBIE????)

Zombies do NOT EAT BRAINS.  They eat humans.  All types of living humans.

Defeating the Zombie

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Limber up before attacking zombies, don’t pull a muscle!  You want to make sure you’ve done all your stretching as you may need to defend yourself for long periods of time.

Best defense is avoidance.  This takes planning and knowing the enemy.

No firearms.  Although guns may look cool and work in the movies/TV, firearms are not the best form of defense against zombies.  They are very noisy and will alert other zombies in the area to the presence of humans.

You should be adequately protected from the zombie and wear a helmet and gloves in addition to your other clothing.

Hand-to-hand combat is the most effective way to defeat zombies.  Hand weapons like pick axe, hatchet, katana (because who doesn’t carry one of these around?) and machetes are very practical weapons against zombie attach.

Aim for the head with plans to crush the skull.  Most deadly locations are head, heart and neck.  Hitting a zombie anywhere else will only slow them down, but not kill them.  Blunt objects are effective too.

After terminating the zombie, you want to leave the body where it falls.  Tape and tag the body, then evacuate your camp and relocate to another spot.  DO NOT INCINERATE THE BODY.  This will release airborne toxins and spread the disease.

Planning ahead

Avoidance of zombies is preferred, but it’s wise to know where the infestations are located.  You should always be prepared for an unexpected zombie encounter.



Heed warnings

Travel in groups

Avoid wildlife

Know environment

Know abilities

Avoid rooftops, sporting goods stores, grocery stores, hospitals, shopping malls (large concentrations of people)

What to pack in your Emergency Zombie Apocalypse container:

Extra clothing.  Plan to layer including a base layer of smart wool, insulating layer of down or ‘prima-loft’ and an outer layer of rain gear.  Don’t forget to cover your head and hands as well.

To cover and protect your feet you’ll need liner socks, smart wool socks and either hiking boots and/or trail runners.  Gaiters are recommended to further protect your feet and legs.

Navigation (Compass, maps, GPS)

Sun protection (wind and sunburn, chapped lips)

Insulation (clothing, extra set if you can)

Illumination (headlamp, candles, flashlight)

First aid supplies

Fire (lighter, flint/steel)

Repair kit (pool kit or similar to repair tire, tents or ???)

Nutrition (food)

Hydration / filter  / Camelback

Emergency shelter  (space blanket)

Communication (walkie-talkies or radios)

Zombie defenses

Batteries / solar

Cooking pans

Emergency kit

Extra clothes

Multi use tools – Leatherman

Toilet paper



Garbage bags

Baby wipes/moist towelettes

Plastic ties

Manual can opener

Meds (aspirin, glasses, Benadryl, prescriptions)

Cash (just in case?)

Blanket/sleeping bag/hammock

Cook stove

“How to survive a zombie apocalypse” may have been a ploy to have people buy emergency gear.  Or it may have been a fun way to increase sales during a traditionally low retail period.  Whatever the reason, it was a fun class with an interesting take on preparedness, camping and emergency readiness.

I’m thankful that my husband and sons are or have been scouts; and the only items we don’t have in the above list are a solar charging panel for the electronics and a water filter.  My only purchase was a weather radio as we’ve talked about the need for one several times.

A friend and I have jokingly (or not) formed an allegiance to fight demons; she is my liege and I am her faithful sidekick.  We have chosen our uniforms and weapons; but have little in the way of actual training.  No word if REI plans on hosting a “How to Kick Demon-butt” class, but I’ll keep my eyes open.

(1)  A little background about my fear of zombies:  Back in the dark ages of the 1960’s, a movie was made called “Night of the Living Dead”.  An impressionable and shy child, I was attending my first year of public school at the middle school level.  One of the amenities this school provided was movie day; if I remember it was quarterly. 

Educational facilities didn’t have to worry about scarring children for life,  offending students or parents or silly things like trauma; so if your parent wasn’t able to pick you up from school when you called at the office (with of all things a ROTARY phone), you weren’t even allowed to sit in the library during the movie.  You were required to sit in the classroom/theater where there was teacher supervision.

My mother, was a work at home mother, but unfortunately was not home during my phone call.  So, there I sat, in the back row with some of the incorrigible youth.  Evidently they didn’t want to see the movie either. 

Unfortunately for me, one of those incorrigibles was a teenage boy I had a crush on; the same boy who initiated me into the harshness of public school hierarchy by asking me if I would f**k him on a dare.  First week of school.  Yeah.  There was no political correctness or “wear orange against bullying” day and certainly no “Kelso” and his stupid guidelines.  Just WJ (I’m not sure why I’m protecting him by using initials, but…) and about 5 of the “cool” guys from school in the back row.  With me.

Back to the trauma of the movie…If you haven’t seen “Night of the Living Dead”, IMDB bills it as a “low-budget, black and white film”.  The zombies are outside and the people who don’t want to be eaten by them are barricaded inside a house.  To this day the only thing I remember from the movie is this little girl eating her mother.  Enough said.

Although I love vampire, ghost and werewolf movies, I have no plans to watch a zombie movie at any time in the present or future.  I mistakenly watched “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn” because I thought it would be just a slasher movie <don’t judge>, but when it turned into a zombie movie, I was done.  I do love “Thriller”, but it’s Michael Jackson and is a music video.

I understand that some of my friends may need to disown me because I have never watched even a portion of “The Walking Dead”.  You will likely be more prepared for said Zombie Apocalypse than I because of your education through TV. 


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