The television show The Walking Dead is well known to be about zombies, fighting, and survival. The fiction show still has some good lessons people can learn about survival, even when zombies are not a part of the equation. The survival scenarios, tips, and tricks that one sees in the show can often be translated into useful real-life information.
Some of the information here may be spoilers for those who are not up to date on the show.
Change happens fast.
One minute, everything is normal; the next, the world has gone crazy. There is not necessarily going to be prior warning when difficulties arrive. If the catastrophe is due to a natural disaster, this is especially true.
Because of the speed at which change happens, it is necessary to be prepared ahead of time. Having a plan, having items stocked, and having a place to go are all good things to have thought through and set up ahead of time.
The government will be unable to help efficiently.
This is a safe assumption. Just as in the show, real life has shown that in times of crisis, the government is not a speedy aid. In a situation where the whole nation – or the whole world – is affected, the government is certain to be of even less help than usual, and at a much slower speed.
Choose wisely who to trust; people are the problem.
In The Walking Dead, the group established trust among themselves. The series has a tagline that states, “Fight the dead; fear the living.” People have the goal to survive, and it often does not matter to them if anyone else actually manages to survive. Survival can be a very selfish pursuit.
Do not try to go it alone; people are the solution.
Learning to cooperate with others is an important key to survival. There is strength in numbers, yes, and also people need people. Watching each other’s back and supporting one another will offer a better result in the long run.
Pre-build a team but know that it may grow and change.
Once the disaster hits, it will be much more difficult to arrange a group of trustworthy people. Set up a group ahead of time to know that the group is made up of people who can be trusted. However, realize that people can change and when there is a situation that causes stress, the changes may result in a person no longer being a good fit for the group. Communication is extremely important in a survival scenario.
Do not underestimate the intelligence and abilities of children.
Rick was guilty of this underestimation. Just as Carol teaches the children how to defend against the attacks of the walkers, people who have children in the household should teach them survival skills. Children are like sponges – they soak up much of what they are exposed to. Teaching them to properly handle situations may save their lives at some point – and yours!
Everyone needs water; survival is impossible without it. Thankfully, water is available in many places, as long as it is safe. Knowing how to purify water is a crucial skill and finding a water source is imperative.
Food is essential.
While people can live longer without food than without water, food is still necessary for life. Finding it will be easy at first, but as time goes on, things will be more picked over and sustenance will be more difficult to obtain. Preparing ahead by storing up non-perishable food will go a long way toward extended survival. Having seeds to grow food, knowing how to hunt and trap and fish, and how to forage food from things growing in the wild will all make it easier to survive longer.
Proper defensible shelter goes a long way to ensuring safety.
Finding shelter will aid in having comfort during a survival situation. Having shelter that can also be defended relatively easily is a great choice. When the characters set themselves up in a remote location, which also has a fence for protection and a well for water, they have an excellent setup. It is good to plan ahead and know a safe, defensible place where the group can go after a disaster situation occurs.
Do not become complacent because of defensible shelter.
It is easy to think that just because a place is set up well for defense, that there is no longer a reason to worry. However, this can be the most dangerous thing one can do. Expecting to be safe and letting down one’s guard can result in the enemies breaching the defenses and making things worse instead of better.
Have a plan for escape and reuniting.
There are situations where even a defensible place is not safe anymore. It can be necessary to leave and a group may not always be able to leave together. Having a backup location where the group can reassemble can make the difference between staying together (and alive) or becoming a casualty.
Medicine has multiple functions.
Medication is good for taking care of disease and injury, but in a catastrophe scenario, it can also be used for trading. Knowing which herbs can be used for medicines may also make a difference between surviving or not.
Fitness makes a difference.
Being able to run, being able to move quickly, being able to fight effectively, all work better when a person is in good shape. When one is fit, one can rely on skills and abilities rather than being dependent on others.
Do not neglect mental health.
When things have gone crazy, the stress will be high. Taking care of mental health and managing stress is the only way to make sure the people do not go as crazy as the times. Take some time to recharge. Take time to do something that makes memories or makes happiness. If things start feeling insurmountable, it may be time to take a break, if possible.
Self-defense is a necessary skill set.
Once the world goes crazy, there will no longer be law enforcement available to assist in defense. It is crucial to have the skills to defend one’s self. Learn how to use a weapon. Learn how to be a weapon. Weapons may not always be available, so being able to use defense principles without a weapon may be required.
Tools and weapons are useful and can be interchangeable.
Having appropriate tools and weapons will aid in creating shelter, building other things, protecting one’s self and family. The characters were able to find weapons and tools, but it is definitely better to have some already available whenever possible.
Think twice but make the difficult decisions as quickly as possible.
Be careful to avoid doing stupid things, but at the same time, it is important to know that time may be of the essence. If Duane’s mother had been dispatched sooner, things would likely have turned out differently for Duane. Making the difficult decisions quickly may not be easy, but in some situations, it may be crucial.
Let go of the losses.
Sometimes things must be let go. Sometimes people must be let go. Hanging on to things when they are no longer helpful or people when they become a dead weight will only cause drag that will limit productivity and cause more problems than are already being faced.
Living in a state of survival for long periods, not knowing if any one person in the group will be alive in a day or two, can be really difficult. Finding joy in moments, in small things, will make a marked difference in one’s attitude. Enjoy the occasional treat and celebrate even the little accomplishments.
Lessons from The Walking Dead
This essay, in Kindle format, offers another view of some of the things people can learn and take to heart from the show.