Kit Up Zombie Ops: Waiting It Out in a Shelter

kit-up-zombie-bomb-shelterA Pre-fabricated Zombie Hideout by Radius Engineering

A Pre-fabricated Zombie Hideout by Radius Engineering

Most discussions about surviving a zombie apocalypse center around gearing up wisely and staying on the move.  But what about the idea of buttoning up and hiding?  For those with the resources and foresight to have a well-stocked underground shelter, staying put for a while may be the most sensible thing to do.  Here are three reasons why (Caution – Movie Spoilers):

 1) The Disease Might Run Its Course – In the film 28 Days Later, which presents the most plausible of zombie scenarios, the infected didn’t die and reanimate; they instead became “living zombies,” driven to primal violence by a “rage virus” that was developed in a laboratory.  Since the zombies had low intelligence but still had the biological needs of people, they all died of starvation after a period of weeks.

2) Society May Regain Control – In Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead, the initial outbreak caused a crisis for a rural community near a cemetery.  But because the zombies were ponderously slow, armed parties of civilians were soon able to abate the problem.

3) The Weather May Turn in Your Favor – In much of the zombie literary canon, the undead are susceptible to freezing.  So if you live in a northern climate, just hang tight until winter, when there is a nice sub-zero spell, and zombies will stiffen and ice over.

I’m curious to hear what our bona fide warriors think… lay low with your abundant supplies?  Or could your shelter become your tomb?

Check out this tour of an impressive fallout shelter in Montana.  The kid mentions supplies that would last them five years!

Pat Kilbane is best know for his three-year run on Fox’s Mad TV, though many remember him as “the anti-Kramer” in the Seinfeld episode “The Bizarro Jerry.”  Also a writer, Pat spent two years under contract with Dreamworks developing science-fiction concepts for television, and recently authored The Brain Eater’s Bible, a zombie field manual available in hardcover from Amazon and as an iPad app from the iTunes Store.

  • Nick T.

    You won’t even have to wait that long.

    • Pat Kilbane

      The author (David Dietle) seems to choose only those parts of the zombie canon he can easily pick apart. No doubt, defending the plausibility of an actual zombie epidemic is a tough row to hoe, but therein lies the challenge of a science-fiction writer: to make the impossible seem plausible. Most modern zombie fiction attempts to close the logic holes he mentions. Cool, link, though, Nick. I poked around reading some of Dietle’s other stuff and it’s pretty worthwhile.

  • MarkM

    It’s already very much part of the lifestyle of rural folks, especially those who associate by heritage and religion. While my household doesn’t keep a large backlog of food (and maybe we should,) we’ve been able to weather a tornado, two ice storms, and an inland cyclonic hurricane right here in SW MO – much less the neighboring metro getting hit with an EF5 that destroyed 35% of the center of town.

    Lessons learned: Shelter must be at least below ground, or all masonry construction. Brick veneer is resistant, but the roof still blows off. Hurricane level methods are minimum. Valuables should be stored in the shelter to be useful during the disaster, and after water, food, sleeping, and sanitation, have severe duty disaster clothing and what little security you actually need in there too. It does no good to be scrambling thru a damaged windswept house retrieving items blown across the room and possibly contaminated with debris from the neighbor’s house a mile away.

    I’ve already been thru the first fad of survivalism, the predominant feature is to evacuate away from other humans. That’s exactly wrong – humans don’t naturally do that, and will work together to protect the group. It’s plain in the historical record, and obvious working in third world countries – you will significantly increase the risk of death by separating yourself from society and attempting to live alone in the wilderness. The one thing any survivor of a natural or transportation disaster will do is seek other humans – for help, medical care, and the sharing of food and water, no matter how grudging.

    Consider the logistics of a family leaving the shelter of home, leaving behind the food in the house, the aid of neighbors, and the remaining conveniences of life, to suffer living in an expedient hobo camp miles from others, during a February filled with subfreezing temps? It’s always summer in fantasyland, reality is more likely life-threatening and severe. I seriously doubt most who entertain it consider whether their spouse has significant survival skills and can also care for children simultaneously.

    Forget about the petroleum powered generator. The better solution is propane cookstoves and the minimum possible “grid” appliances. Propane stores for decades in large quantities without preservatives, doesn’t need cycling, and is easier to store without major hassles. 12VDC is more than adequate, cheap and easy to obtain, and much less work intensive. The average RV camper has more efficient devices and less power draw than attempting to power a home or shelter with a 10kw genset droning on at $45 a day, shuffling power cords, and running out to find more fuel – if you can. For the best effort at living off the grid, you have to be. Ice in the refrigerator, a barbecue grill, and LED yard lights indoors at night go a long way. We’ve done it repeatedly for a week at a time.

    History itself is a great prioritization of needs: Clean water, food, shelter first. Electricity last – it’s still been less than 70 years ago rural farmers got indoor plumbing or electric power, mankind has done without them most of it’s existence. Live in a small rural town, it’s not uncommon to do that days at a time. The grid isn’t all that, and yes, you do have to clear cut all the trees from the power lines to help prevent losing it.

    • Brandon Webb

      Mark M-
      What can I say. Awesome comment. -Brandon

    • Pat Kilbane

      “Inland cyclonic hurricane”? Yikes! Suddenly I don’t feel so cursed to be dealing with earthquakes out in LA. I appreciate your sharing such a thorough, first-hand look at the subject, Mark. I found it most interesting that you emphasize the tendency of rural folks the help each other. We in the urban jungle tend to forget that and incorrectly project our paranoia on the rest of the country.

    • yankeefifth

      Interesting insights. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • JTP709

    Not much room to exercise in there… I can see myself easily getting even fatter.

    Also, we need to really plan ahead here and establish a network standard so we can still play Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty against people in other fallout shelters.

    • Pat Kilbane

      When you’re hunkering down with limited resources, fat is good!

  • mpower6428

    if me and lord Humungus (zombie or not) know its there…? we’re getting in it. MUHAHAHAHAHAAAA. ie…. the big steel door is a dead give away.

    we will feed on the hibernators until the meat runs out :)

    now excuse me, i have to go watch “cannibal apocylpse”.

    • Pat Kilbane

      Right you are, mpower, the entrance should definitely be concealed!

      • majrod

        Hidden entrance and a field expedient command detonated claymore pretty much handles the unwanted but persistent visitor.

    • Han Solo

      Was it Patton who said “Fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man. If anything made by God can be overcome, anything made by man can be overcome.”?

      But I guess it serves its purpose

      • Pat Kilbane

        Looks like Mr. Solo votes for runnin’ and gunnin’…

        • majrod

          Love Patton but I bet Gen Paulus has a couple of nuggets about how pesky fixed fortifications can be.

          (Paulus commanded at Stalingrad)

  • Riles

    The zombie survival guide is anti underground shelter. Structures are like this are generally more approved amongst zombie experts:

    • mpower6428

      it looks a little drafty. what if the zombies are “smart”…?

    • Pat Kilbane

      I agree that keeping people warm in the winter in that structure would be an everyday challenge. In the underground shelter, temperature is kept comfortable year-round by the surrounding earth. Max Brooks does discuss residential basements as being a problem… does he mention anything like a well-sealed fallout shelter?

  • ZenEngineer

    Not a bad looking shelter, but it needs at least three emergency tunnels to separate, concealed exits.

  • yankeefifth

    I do not know very much about zombies. The only zombie movie I have seen is Night of the Living Dead, where as mentioned above, the zombies were slow and unintelligent. In a situation like that wouldn’t a defensible above ground shelter be better than the below ground shelter shown here? If it were similar to a pillbox, made of reinforced concrete, slightly elevated with clear fields of fire I would think that would be preferable.
    If you are in a fiberglass capsule with one exit you are placing a very large bet on remaining undetected. If they ever do find your shelter you have nowhere to go.

    • Pat Kilbane

      I think you and ZenEngineer are right on the money calling for additional exits. Having just one way out gambles too much on your remaining undiscovered. As far as above-ground structures go, they are better for repelling enemies, but can also attract them. Greedy human looters may see the place and decide to test your resolve, and zombies may be more likely to sense heat, light, or human odors coming from the building. I don’t disagree with you there… just looking at it from the other side.

  • Lance

    Looks good for Zombies or Nuclear war.

  • Dahunt

    I am loving this zombie stuff. That fall out shelter is hectic by the way.

    • Pat Kilbane

      Thanks, Dahunt, I’m glad you’re having fun with it too! Yeah that shelter in the video is a mess inside… the power equipment looks kept up, but the rest of the place needs serious squaring away.

  • majrod

    Might be worthwhile for folks to take a step back and ask why “Kit Up” features stories about planning for a real response to a fictional zombie threat or maybe tools for just an event.

    Besides the entertainment value, the planning/preping for a zombie apocalypse is identical to a myriad of other real world calamalities without the political underpinnings or sensationalization of natural catastrophes.

    So while you zombie fanboys giggle and argue about what’s the best way to kill a zombie or whether they can swim to islands the more serious of us are actually sharing/picking up some survival tips and maybe some gizmos that might help survive.

  • ICE Man

    Definitely taking notes!

  • T-9

    Actually, majrod, I think most of the folks here understand the underpinnings. I’ve added a few items to my “to-do” list in the event of an earthquake, tornado, godzilla attack, based on the replies.

    • majrod

      T – Granted, my post was meant for those not “getting it”. You know some actually get into the zombie world as much as the tweeners like vampires?

      • T-9

        Yes. You’re so correct. I work with a couple of them /shakes head

  • mpower6428

    I LOVE these zombie apocolypse posts. they’re fun.

    the only underground bunker ive ever seen that actually looked live-able and half way intelligent was the “gyro-captains” from “mad max beyond thunderdome”. the tunnel entrance threw the trunk of a wrecked car was brilliant, except the little brat didnt close the f-ing hatch.

    the fall out shelter in “the road” was interesting though… sparse. Modern Marvels had an interesting episode on things “built to last” the last few minutes of which were devoted to prefabricated underground bunkers.

    as for me…? its NORAD or die tryin.

  • Pat Kilbane

    majrod, T-9, ICE Man, mpower, I’m glad you fellas see it that way. I’m in awe of the knowledge and experience among the Kit Up readership and watching you guys work through these hypotheticals is fascinating. Thanks for seeing the value in it, and thanks for participating.

  • nraddin

    I couldn’t agree with you more about 99% of this, but I would add a few things.
    1) Solar. For less than $300 you can get a 60W solar system with battery charger and inverter. You can use this to charge 12v batteries and use the inverter to run AC things when the need really arises. I run my entire cabin off $1000 worth of solar panels (4’x16′) giving me around 1.2kwh a day.

    2)Fuel oil. Fuel oil like what you would use to heat your house is essentially the same thing a diesel fuel, but you don’t pay road tax on it (Some places it is even subsidized) I have seen it stored for well over 20 years without issue (Key is to keep it dry) and still run my diesel VW rabbit without issue. While I am a bag fan of propane and have a 100gallon tank at the cabin, my pride is the 1000gallon fuel oil tank with pump. (I could drive around the planet twice in my VW on that much fuel)

    • Pat Kilbane

      Looks like between MarkM and nraddin we’re fully hooked up on the energy part of the equation. Nice!

  • Brandon Webb

    Mad Max Road Warrior has to be one of my favorite movies of all time.

  • Navbm7

    Let’s see: The CDC warns to prepare for zombies, Kit Up is running articles on preparing for zombies, Down Range TV has run articles on zombies, the last few movies concerning the living dead have them being caused by man-made viruses. IS this just a joke or does the government know something they don’t want to tell us?
    I’m not saying, I’m just saying. Enquiring minds want to know!

    • T-9

      If you’re serving and find yourself in *************, or iraq, Kit Up brings you the feedback on the latest gear. If you’re an old retired ******* like me, Kit Up brings what us old guys need to keep up.

      No zombies. Just common sense. the zombie stuff just is a fun way to make you think of Condition Zero.

      • T-9

        you guys were prescient enough to edit a s& s! c rack istan? Nicely done.

  • Dan

    Pesky yes, but still stupid. Fixed fortifications are only as good as the logistics supplying them, once they’re cut off the attacker need only wait until they run out of supplies forcing them to give up or attack.

  • Ripberger

    Zombies might be the least of your problems. In almost every major apocalyptic scenario, it is not the aliens, zombies, pandemic disease, etc. that is the primary threat, but uninfected people wanting to steal your resources and kill you (and possibly eat you). If I were a raider looking for resources to take while the zombies run amuck and I come across this shelter, couldn’t I just cover the generator exhaust diffuser and suffocate the occupants so I can go in and raid the place and/or take the place for myself? A raider and/or cannibal could also disable the web cam, place traps around the entrance/exit, and wait until the occupant(s) leave, then ambush them? Of course, the entrance/exit could be used like the noble trapdoor spider and use it to lure would-be raiders and people into the shelter. And then.. “Honey! We’re having long pork tonight!”

    • mpower6428

      awsome comment.

      if you wanna protect yourself from raiders… you have to FIRST think like one.

  • Brandon Webb


  • TheEndIsNigh
  • Yayap

    A cave is a grave to a well prepared advisary… Or zombies who never go away. I agree having a better vantage point is the way to go. Or maybe a hybrid option like a bunker with pill boxes on high ground. This helps with your suffocation problem too as there are more openings for air flow. And it’d be mighty fun mowing down zombies and raiders trying to scramble up your hill. I agree multiple consealed exits are a must in any scenario. Love it guys keep em comin

    • mpower6428

      yea but, when are you gonna “sleep”. and how many expendables does the head raider have to see when you do…?

  • Pat Kilbane

    The fixed fortification question can cut both ways depending on the circumstances. In a post-apocalyptic environment, though, it would take a lot of precious resources to cut off and wait out a holed-up party.

  • Depth

    I don’t understand the repeated comment about Montana not being a concern with nuclear fallout. Perhaps not for a terrorist attack but for war with a major power it’s a different story. Montana has one of the large stock piles of ICBM’s on the planet. It’s definatley a target.

  • majrod

    Wow! I’m impressed with the threat assessment of zombies to an underground shelter. (Now if they were only a real threat…)

    About raiders, just like street thugs they are looking for easy targets. An undergound bunker isn’t easy to find in comparison to anything above ground and secondly takes less to defend. One entrance… While they are “waiting you out” they are outside while you are inside. I personally like the offense but you need a team to go on offense. Also a bunker is something just about anyone can do/afford. A compound is a little bit expensive…

    Additionally anything outside has to be defended by a 360 deg perimeter and you have to worry about it 24/7. Pulling security gets in the way of other tasks like continuing to prep your position, maintaining equipment, sleeping, eating etc.

    • majrod

      BTW, underground bunkers aren’t all that easy to breach especially when you have desparate people inside. We learned that on Iwo Jima and again in Vietnam. I’m betting raiders don’t have flamethrowers or the gas to spare.

      One thing the design above is missing is putting as many 90 degree turns in the entrance as possible. Keeps the bad guy from shooting directly into your home and gives you a fall back position.

      Another thing I like about bunkers is besides tornado/hurrricane events you can use them for storage or a man cave when you aren’t in survival mode.

      • mpower6428

        if an “underground shelter” is discovered…? thats it, its gone period. time then becomes the enemy. the raiders may go away for some time but, if in their travels they think of a way or, discover the means to breach…? they’ll be back.

        the CIA spends half its budget on “counter” intelligence.

        half the work of discovering a secret is too know it exists. “time” then becomes your friend. if you discover its general location then… most of your work is already done.

        are you assuming the raiders WILL NOT be smart enough to check the records of companies who built and designed said “shelters”…? envoices*, billing, subcontractors etc…. thats where me and “Lord Humungus” will be headed first.

        your worst enemy is the guy who researched but couldnt afford too build.

        simple, well hidden “stashes” are the way to go. money isnt a factor, a little time and intelligence is the key. stay ABOVE ground, stay mobile, know your enviornment. move in a circuit that encompasses your resources. if you are fully aware of whats going on in your general location… you cant be tracked without counter tracking, you cant be observed without also observing.

  • VictorMike

    I like to think in terms of systems. If I’m going to put this much time, effort and design into a shelter I would devote the same amount of time, if not more to the other aspects of this system-concealed above ground monitoring of the entrances/exits, motion detectors/monitoring of the perimeter, and deceptive decoys to throw would be raiders/threats off the trail. If I’m holed up under ground, better believe I want to have as many sets of eyes above ground as I can. No matter how good one element of the system is, if the other elements are crap it all falls. It would be interesting to hear thoughts regarding the entire system of the shelter and then break it down to its individual components.

  • jake

    underground bunkers ect don’t work, to stay in place is to die. To have a A/B/C evac plan is your best bet to get out of the area with plenty of fire power. It’s been proven over and over in warfare. Get out get far away stay alive with the right equipment. Unless your a member of the alternative gov’t in virginia.

  • bbb

    It’s not that having a well-stocked shelter wouldn’t be good in that sort of situation, but if you were forced to stay in it for weeks, or months at a time, the clausterphobia and boredom could literally become lethal. Especially if you’re alone. Not that being with other people is always better.

    Astronauts and specially screened people are one thing, but can you imagine the average person who would spend this sort of time and money on this sort of thing?

    Construction costs aside, the maintenance of the facilities, and the requirement of constantly having to rotate supplies would cost a fortune. If you didn’t do EVERYTHING yourself, then at least a dozen or so subcontractors are going to know about your shelter. The shelter which can house approximately five people, maybe two or three comfortably.

    Bottom line is you’re going to have to shoot someone before you button up. And you’d better hope they don’t have welding tools… because personally if I couldn’t get in, I’d make sure you never got out.

    • Pat Kilbane

      You’re right that psychiatric health would be a huge consideration for an extended underground stay. When Ernest Shackleton and his crew were beset in the Antarctic ice for months, he kept everyone to a very strict regimen so they wouldn’t lose their minds. Previous expeditions had perished due to exactly the issues you describe.

  • Pat Kilbane

    I didn’t know that about Montana. If that’s the case, no doubt Russia has at least one warhead targeted on every ICBM site they have identified.

  • Mitch

    Remember the bunker Vigo found in The Road? That seemed like a pretty well prepared place to hunker down in.

  • Zombie Aficionado

    Concealing the exit(s) could be as easy as laying sod across the the hatch and planting some resilient, bushy plants around it. Such plants should also be used around the exhaust and intake vents, as well as any other above ground apparatus.