Sunday, November 20, 2016

Zombie Fighting Tactics - Selecting Terrain

Zombies only have one tactic. They mob their targets.  If they can see you, hear you, or smell you, they will advance on you.  All Zombies that sense you will shuffle directly towards your group in order to satisfy a primal hunger.

ZombieWalk photo by tangi bertin from Rennes, France (La HORDE progresse  Uploaded by paris 17) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

If you are going to fight Zombies, it's best to fight on ground of your own choosing.  If you want to prevail, make the Zombies cross difficult terrain.  If you put a steep ravine between you and them, many may fall and break legs, ankles, or hips.  If you put a swift flowing river between you and zombies, many may be swept downstream when they attempt to cross.  Zombies will fall into pits, impale themselves, and damage themselves in an attempt to get to you and eat you.  You also want to channel zombies into approaching from directions where you can hit them, but they can't easily hit you.  As in all warfare, the high ground provides defenders with an advantage.  For example, clumsy Zombies might have trouble navigating the steep rocky slope of Little Round Top at the Gettysburg National Battlefield Park.

The Steep Rocky Terrain of Little Round Top at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Little Round Top photo by Jan Kronsell, July 2002 {{GFDL-self}}

Since Zombies will damage themselves trying to get at a food source, it just makes great tactical sense to put damaging obstacles between you and the Zombies.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Anti-Zombie Weapon Review: SOG FastHawk Tomahawk

You may need to get yourself a tomahawk for serious zombie fights.  Here's why:  if Zombies ever do come your way, they may get up close and personal.  They'll want to sink their gnarly rotten teeth into you and rip your bowels out with their bony fingers.  You can shoot them, but the noise will only attract more.  In a big city, most civilians will run out of ammunition before they run out of zombies in a shoot out.  That's why you need a close combat weapon like a tomahawk.

My personal choice for a tomahawk was the SOG FastHawk.  It's made by SOG Specialty Knives & Tools.  It's a small, fast, little tomahawk with a 2-inch blade with a spike.  It's a lethal little tool.  The spike looks like it could easily penetrate a zombie skull and the blade could do some serious damage.  For weapons geeks, the blade and spike are made out of 420 RC 51/53 blade steel.

This is a good time to pause and note something very important:


A mistake or accident with a tomahawk can kill or seriously maim someone. You can injure yourself with the blade on the front swing and with the spike on the back swing. If you are looking for a tomahawk for mock combat or training purposes, this is NOT it. You'll need to look for specialized  training weapons made from rubber or foam.

A dry season nose bleed makes for a scary photo opportunity with the SOG FastHawk

At 19 ounces and 12 1/2 inches long, the SOG FastHawk (F06TN-CP) is about the size of a hammer.  It has a glass reinforced nylon handle and a nylon carry sheath for your belt.  It weighs about 19 ounces.  By comparison, a typical Stanley nailing hammer weighs 16 ounces and is 13.3 inches long.  At this small size and weight, the SOG FastHawk will let you land multiple blows against an adversary in quick succession.

If this tomahawk breaks while you are knee deep in zombies, it will be small comfort to know that your FastHawk is covered by a lifetime warranty.  Since it seems pretty sturdy, I don't that you'll need the warranty anyway.

If you scour the internet, you'll find people using the SOG FastHawk for all kinds of macho camping adventures.  However, I used it to beat the crap out of some cardboard boxes.  It made short work of them.  Both the blade and the spike penetrate thick cardboard with no problem.  I'm pretty sure the SOG FastHawk will work on zombies, too.  Overall, it is a great deal for less than $30.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Creating a First Aid Kit for Your Car

It's common knowledge that every family should have a first aid kit.  But, few people realize that every family should actually have more than one.  When thinking about the threats that we actually face on any given day, I realized that the most immediate threats we face are encountered outside the home.  Outside the home, we face the threat of being injured in a motor vehicle accident or due to criminal assault.  We can be more prepared for these threats by having a first aid kit with us in our vehicle.  That's why I put together a first aid kit for our car.

Foundation for a First Aid Kit

My local Rite Aid drugstore had a special where you could get a free first aid bag simply by buying three Band Aid brand first aid products.  The empty bag served as my foundation.  However, it quickly grew.

Minor Wound Care

First, I added to it a large number of Band Aid brand bandages and some Neosporin that we bought.  The bandaids were part of the purchases I needed to make in order to get the bag for "free."  The cleansing wipes were from an earlier small first aid kit.  These items seem like a good start for handling minor cuts and lacerations.

I added some un-opened anti-itch cream that I had on hand, a rolled gauze bandage, and I picked up a pair of new tweezers from Dollar Tree.

Stop the Bleeding- Tourniquettes

Perhaps the most important thing that I added to my first aid kit was a pair of tourniquettes.  These TF Essentials tourniquettes were available on Amazon.  

Whether it's a Zombie apocalypse, a high speed crash, or a workplace shooting, some disasters can cause a lot of bleeding.  A tourniquette can help stop that bleed until first responders can take over.  The drawback to tourniquettes is that if left on for an extended period of time (say a couple of hours), the patient might end up losing their limb.

Stop the Bleeding-Bandages & Pads

To stop less severe bleeding, there is always direct pressure.  So I threw in some non-adherent pads to help with other cuts and lacerations.

Medications for Pain & Minor Medical Issues

Finally, not every first aid kit situation is life threatening.  I added some medications that will help with headaches, sprains, allergic reactions, upset stomachs, and diarrhea.  I chose brand name medications from the Dollar Tree for these situations.  I trust Tylenol, Advil, Benadryl, Imodium, and Pepto-bismal.

Hopefully, the most explosive situation that I'll need to deal with will be overindulgence in Mexican food.  But, I'll be ready.

Next Steps in the Evolution of My First Aid Kit

I'm not completely done with my first aid kit.  I'll plan to add some additional items.  So far, I plan to add the following:

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Zombie Defense: Waiting for Z Pizza

I'm waiting for a last minute pizza at Your Pie--one of my favorite brick oven pizza joints.  It's calm now, most of the customers are gone, and the place is just about to close.  Since I have a few minutes until my order is ready, I can't help but wonder what would happen if Zombies showed up at the door.

What if Zombies lurked outside?
If Zombies did show up, we'd have to barricade ourselves in.  There are plenty of stout wooden tables that we could use as barricades.  They might slow Zombies down a bit.  Plus there are hand rails to guide the crowds into an orderly line up to the counter.   The rails are all made of big heavy metal pipes.  If you could take the rails apart, the pipes themselves would be awesome weapons. But, if the Zombies were here, now, there wouldn't be much time for that.  Instead, we'd have to retreat and look for other protection.

The Brick Oven at my local Your Pie pizza joint
The middle of the restaurant is where they make the pizza.  The huge brick oven has huge oar-like wood and metal spatulas hanging off to the side side.  They would make fearsome pole arms if the staff was forced to make a last stand.  

Pizza Parlor Pole Arms?
The service counters are also protected by thick plexi-glass breath shields that help protect all the fresh ingredients from infectious customers.  I wonder if the staff would let me back there.  They wouldn't sacrifice me to the Zombie horde would they?  I've been a good customer.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Can You Help Others During A Zombie Apocalypse?

One of the big practical and philosophical questions raised in shows like The Walking Dead and Fear of the Walking Dead is -

Can you / should you help other people during a Zombie Apocalypse?

Zombie Photo By Scott Simmons [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

In a world where energy and supplies are scarce and risk of Zombie exposure is high, it's a very tough question.  I think a survivor has an obligation to save life when it is immediately threatened.  There is no question that you should kill a Zombie that is just about to bite one of the living.  However, sharing limited supplies is an entirely different matter.

The supplies that you and your group have gathered are precious and should be used to preserve your own.  Group supplies should only be given when some return on investment is expected.

Everyone Contributes After A Zombie Apocalypse

The old van bumper sticker of the 1970s is germaine to this discussion.  "Gas, Grass, or Ass,"  it read.  "Nobody rides for free."  During a Zombie Apocalypse no one rides for free either.  If a survivor group shares supplies, then the recipient is expected to contribute to the group in some way.

In exchange for help, a recipient should be able to contribute by fighting Zombies, growing food, building fortifications, assisting the wounded, or providing other goods and services.

If you have extra supplies, you can use them shrewdly to build your own power, prestige, influence, and safety.  This is probably how warlords and new civilizations get started.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Planning to Evacuate- Lessons Learned from Hurricane Matthew

When the Zombies or another hurricane comes your way, you may need to evacuate with your loved ones.  Evacuating millions of people is not an easy task for governments or individual evacuees.  Here are a few things that my family learned from evacuating for Hurricane Matthew.

Hurricane Matthew

1.  Evacuate as soon as possible.  If you think you will need to evacuate, don't wait.  If you hit the road before most people, you'll avoid at least some of the heaviest traffic.

2.  Make hotel reservations immediately.  If you think you're going to be evacuating, you'll need to make a hotel reservation right away.  During the Hurricane Matthew evacuation, every hotel that was connected to internet reservation systems completely booked up.  My parents found that all hotels in Georgia off of I-75 and all hotels in Florida off of I-10 were completely booked.  That left only a few non-chain independent hotels and motels with vacancies.

A Motel 6 in Valdosta, GA photo by Michael Rivera (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

3.  Have a list of evacuation locations in mind.  When you visit other parts of the state, note potential evacuation destinations (fish camps, non-branded mom & pop motels, campgrounds, etc.).  I remembered a few independent motels, bed & breakfasts, campgrounds, and fish camps that were off the beaten path in the Florida panhandle.  I was able to work the phone and find them an undisclosed secure location.

4. Gas Up Early.  A full tank of gas makes it easy to bug out.  Gas started to get scarce in North Florida just before the evacuation.  Many evacuees lost valuable time waiting in gas lines.  During hurricane season, staying gassed up is a good idea.

Gas Lines in Summit, N.J., after Hurricane Sandy - photo by Tomwsulcer (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

5.  Pre-cut plywood speeds the process of boarding up.  When my parents returned to Florida, they made sure that they had plywood pre-cut to fit their windows.  They also had anchors drilled into the bricks around the windows and screws set aside.  All of these preps made boarding up a far faster process.

6.  Bring food, water, and snacks for the road.  Traffic often moves slowly during an evacuation.  You'll want to keep moving and minimize pit stops.

7.  Evacuate, but don't believe the hype.  The Weather Channel and other media outlets led everyone to believe that 8 to 10 foot flood surges might obliterate coastal property.  But, in Florida, that prediction didn't come through.  So, keep a positive attitude until you can confirm the damage yourself!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Zombie Fighting Tactics - Mission Planning

If there is ever a Zombie apocalypse, you don't want to be wandering about aimlessly.  Instead, you should consider any excursion outside of your defenses to be a mission.  Each mission should be rigorously planned ahead of time.

US Military, Turkish Military, and Civilian Contractors plan the movement of earthquake relief supplies - Photo By: Cpl. Jimmie Perkins, U.S. Marine Corps [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On TV, characters usually just get their gear together and roll out.  If your life is at stake, you'll want to be far more careful.  The Army plans small unit missions by asking officers to consider the mission, the enemy, the troops, the terrain, and the time available (METTT).  You can too.

Mission - Why are you going?  What do you expect to achieve?  You need concrete objectives to ensure that there is a well thought out reason for going.

Enemy - Will you be facing zombies or humans or both?  What are the capabilities of the enemy?  How many are there?  How fast can they move?  What kind of weapons do they have?  What is their morale like?  What are their strengths and weaknesses?

Group of Zombies from film - Meat Market 3 - Photo by Joel Friesen [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
 Troops - In The Walking Dead terms:  Do you have five Daryl's and a Mishone or a bunch of scared Alexandria citizens?  You have to honestly assess the condition of your group.  What weapons do you have?  How much ammunition is available?  Are you healthy or wounded?  How fast can you move?  How skilled is your team in moving and fighting?

The Pope's Swiss Guards Could Kick Zombie Ass - photo by [CC BY 3.0 ( or CC BY 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Terrain - Where can you hide?  Where can the enemy hide?  What areas will have the most Zombies?  Where will humans lie in ambush?  What's the best route to your objective?

A Sand Table Used By the Afghan Army to plan route clearance missions - photo By Sgt Bryan Peterson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Time Available - If you need to get medical supplies for a seriously injured family member, you will be operating faster and more urgently.  If this excursion is just to bolster an already bulging supply cabinet, you can move more slowly and more deliberately.

No one is going to transform your family of survivors into a hardened military unit.  But, you can stop, think, and plan before you take action that might have life altering consequences.