I confess: I didn’t watch the hit AMC television series, The Walking Dead, for the first three seasons it was on the air. I thought it would be an unrealistic, Hollywood version of some apocalyptic event and its aftermath, and for the most part, I was right.
Still, as a fan of the “survival” genre, in general, I’ve discovered there are a few survival lessons to take away from the show.
Much of the first couple seasons of The Walking Dead reminds me of the book (and movie), The Road, where a father and son survive some unexplained SHTF event and must make it to the coast in the hopes of finding food and civilization.
In their way stands hoards of gangs who have resorted to some unsavory tactics for maintaining power. Trade gangs for zombies and you pretty much have the script for The Walking Dead.
Eventually, the surviving actors in The Walking Dead find refuge from the zombie apocalypse in a prison, and begin to try to establish life in their new normal world, which on the show takes place just outside of Atlanta (the last place you want to be in a zombie outbreak).
Five Survival Lessons I Learned By Watching The Walking Dead
1. Don’t bring a revolver to a zombie fight.
I’ve never understand why several characters opt for a revolver, even after finding a weapons cache with rifles, high capacity magazines and semi-auto shotguns. Revolvers might be reliable self defense weapons against your average mugger, but not against hoards of zombies. Who has time to stop and reload every five or six shots?
In addition to a trusty AR-15 with several fully loaded PMAGs, Daryl has me believing in the value of crossbows for their ability to kill in stealth.
After all, whether you are hunting for food or defending yourself, in a zombie outbreak you don’t want to attract too much attention.
Consider some quiet alternatives to guns when building your arsenal.
2. Medicines are nearly as valuable as bullets in a SHTF scenario.
While protagonists in The Walking Dead find safety behind the outer fences and walls of the prison, they cannot escape a silent killer that takes many more lives in post-apocalyptic scenarios – disease. Close living quarters, poor sanitation and hygiene, and lack of access to basic medical care often lead to the spread of illness. You may have all the tactical weapons and body armor in the world and still be taken down by an infection.
It’s a good idea to keep a stockpile of medicines and basic first aid supplies, especially over-the-counter medicines that treat the symptoms of flu such as diarrhea and dehydration. Also hang on to any unused antibiotics, because they will be worth more than their weight in gold in a zombie apocalypse.
3. Stored food will eventually run out; be prepared to grow your own.
One of the smarter moves made by the stars of The Walking Dead was to begin a garden on the grounds of their new prison safe haven. Fortunately for them, zombies prefer flesh to cucumbers, so securing their food shouldn’t be too difficult.
In a real-life SHTF scenario where the food supply is interrupted access to store-bought food will run out in less than a week. It’s a good idea to have a well-stocked pantry, a cache of freeze-dried foods and/or canned foods with a long shelf life, and finally, the ability to grow your own food.
Invest in a seed bank, and start a backyard garden to hone your green thumb now before you are forced to later.
4. Know your neighbors. Build a network of like-minded people.
Most of the main characters in The Walking Dead were brought together by fate, but a few knew each other before the zombie outbreak began. In the real world, it would be tough to survive completely on your own.
A better plan is to be surrounded by people you trust, people that think like you, and people that have the skill sets and motivations required to survive.
Consider building your network in the same way you would build a team. Have a couple security experts, a couple people trained in medical care, a few hunters, a few cooks, etc. Be sure everyone in your group adds value to the group.
5. Don’t plan on the government saving you.
Unfortunately, too many people today are willing to put their faith in the government to protect them, feed them, and provide them with shelter. In a SHTF scenario, sheer numbers tell us that the government cannot provide even the most basic needs – food, water, shelter, and medicines.
Just look at regional disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. The government proved to be inept at handling this type of emergency. Imagine how things would be if a nationwide or worldwide pandemic occurred.’
While The Walking Dead may be a little unrealistic, I like to view these types of shows as intellectual survival training.
What are the lessons to take away from each episode?
What would I do or not do in that same scenario? Or, you may prefer to watch for the purse indulgence of being entertained for an hour. Don’t we at least deserve that?