The idea of a zombie apocalypse has been around for ages. Most of us, of course, accept it as a fascinating yet unlikely science fiction event that has been made into more than a few movies and TV shows. However, there’s always that nagging question in the back of our minds…what if? So, whether you’d like to prepare for an actual zombie apocalypse, you’re writing the newest brain-eaters TV show, or you’re just curious, it’s handy to have some tips on how to survive, should the zombies ever descend upon us.

Know your enemy

Firstly, we should take into account all of the (generally) agreed-upon details of the zombies we would be fighting against for our survival. Since zombies aren’t currently a real-life phenomenon, we have to rely on hypotheticals to tell us about these creatures. Most films and movies seem to depict them as creatures of relatively low intelligence, which plays to our favor. While the stereotypical zombie moves fairly slowly so you can’t rely on them moving at the speed of a slug for you to make your getaway.

Most zombie ‘experts’ agree that zombies are created by some type of infection or another disease that spreads through the human population. Many of them also seem to be depicted as having a weakness to either fire or sunlight, which is important information to know if you want to stay safe and build a good defense system. These are based on the movies and TV shows that we have so far. In the event of a real zombie outbreak, you’d want to find out as much as you can about your real-life monsters, so you’re ready to defend against them.

Safe Places

Since most of us probably don’t have a zombie-ready safehouse built into our backyards, we should get a general idea of where the safest places are for us to go in the event of a zombie outbreak. Surprisingly, some of the places we might think of first aren’t actually the best ideas. Take your local mall, for example. You might think of heading there first: large spaces, lots of room to hide, and plenty of food options at the food court or other stores sprinkled throughout. But this is a short-term option, not good for long-term survival. First of all, a lot of other people would probably have the same idea, so food supplies would run short fairly quickly. Also, malls tend to be situated in heavily populated areas, which are perfect breeding grounds for the zombie infection you’re trying to avoid.

It’s a better idea instead to go for more rural, thinly-populated areas. Fewer people means fewer chances that the disease will reach your area quickly, which means you have more time to prepare before zombies start appearing in your new backyard.

There’s actually a list of which U.S. States are the best in terms of higher chances of survival. Thanks to their relative geography, food sources, and access to energy (things like solar power and other renewable sources), these states should be your first pick, if you can get to them. California tops the list, with Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Illinois following close behind. Kansas, North Carolina, and Wisconsin follow that, with Indiana and Washington bringing up the rear of the list.

Supplies you need

Food and water are, obviously, must-haves for any type of survival situation, and are especially important if you’re on the run from zombie predators. When you can’t just stop by the local grocery store, though, they can be hard to come by. The States listed above have some advantages, due to their agricultural prowess, but another way to make sure you have to eat may surprise you. It’s time to go back to your college days: you’ll need to stock up on things like instant ramen and Twinkies. And no, that’s not a joke. Instant foods and highly-processed foods have insanely long shelf lives, which means they’ll last for, hopefully, about as long as you need them to in order to survive. For water, we suggest getting a filtered water bottle, so you can always get safe drinking water even if you don’t have access to a clean tap.

First-aid kits and tool kits are also necessities. While it might not do anything to protect against a zombie bite, you’ll still need to deal with run-of-the-mill injuries, and you don’t want to have to go looking for wound-cleaning supplies when you’re hiding out in the middle of a forest somewhere. And if something breaks in your safe house, or you need to open a box that has just that one type of screw, you want to have options. Sometimes survival depends on whether or not you can fix that lock on your door. Also, if you can get your hands on a radio, it’s a great way to try to keep in contact with other people, as well as keep updated on any important news that others might be broadcasting.

Some defense and attack options might be a good idea to have around, too. Baseball bats seem to be a pretty common trope for fending off zombie hoards, and as they’re easy to use and easier to get your hands on, you might want to grab a couple. If you have access to stronger stuff (flame-throwers, crossbows and the like) that would be great, but keeping it simple is better than nothing.

Armageddon fashion

You might not be strutting on a runway anytime soon, but clothes can play an important part in whether or not you’ll survive the zombies when they come calling. Wearing thick materials, like leather (or even kevlar, if you can get your hands on it) means it’ll be harder for zombies to bite or scratch you, making you safer from contracting their infection. If you can, add gloves of a similar material to your repertoire; if you need to punch a zombie or go after them with a baseball bat, you want your hands to be protected.

Overall, most of the things you need to survive a zombie apocalypse are things you could get your hands on right now, so you can start preparing today if you’re so inclined. In the meantime, keep watching movies to get ideas for other tricks you can try in the event of an outbreak; remember to keep listening to the news, and watching for signs.