If you are surviving in a tropical or very warm climate, things like the cold may never even cross your mind. But anyone north of a certain latitude will need to think about winter and how to stay warm in the cold zombie apocalypse. It’s not all bad, of course. The zombies may not feel temperatures but the weather can impact them a great deal. If it gets cold enough to freeze water, you just might luck out and they’ll freeze solid too. This is a much needed respite, I’m sure.
Here’s the thing though. I live in a cold area. I know that if it’s cold enough to freeze water and zombies, it’s cold enough to be problematic for YOU too. Not having creatures trying to eat your flesh might be nice, but you’re still going to have a whole lot of worries on your mind.
Like how to stay warm in the cold zombie apocalypse.
So. How do you survive in the cold when electricity is a fond memory of days gone by?
I’ve actually gone through a fairly epic and historic ice storm back in the 1990s. People lost power for days in the dead of winter. Here’s how to get through it.
Don’t let the cold air in.
This sounds obvious but it can be easy to forget. Don’t keep opening and closing the doors to the outside unless you absolutely have to. Where are you planning to go anyway? Costco? Not bloody likely. Once you’re inside a house or other building that you’ve chosen for shelter, keep the doors closed, and stay there for as long as you safely can.
Also, keep the cold air out by systematically going around and checking for drafts. If there’s any cold air coming in around the door or windows, cover that shit up. Stuff the door frame with towels, old sheets, even newspaper. Close any curtains or blinds that you might have. Spare a blanket, if you can, and use it to hang over windows. Whatever will keep the draft out will keep YOU warmer. If you have duct tape to spare, you can even use that to seal a leaky window.
Close off unnecessary rooms.
Do you really need to use the entire house? If this was summer, then you might have the luxury of spreading out. It’s winter, therefore you do not. Pick a central room to hunker down in and close off any doors. For example, you might choose the living room if it’s a nice central location. Close all the bedroom doors and – again, if you have any spare blankets or even plastic wrap – consider sealing off doorways that lead to the hallways. This will keep further drafts out and will keep body heat in. You can also use old clothes or towels by rolling them up and pressing them against the bottom of the door to keep any cold air from sneaking in.
My grandmother owned a huge house that used to be a boarding house. When she was alone during the week, she hung a thick, heavy curtain in the stairs leading to the second floor. She would shut off the heat upstairs and only heat the main floor where she had her bedroom. That floor stayed toasty and comfortable because the curtain trapped the heat instead of letting it escape upstairs where it was wasted. Don’t underestimate fabric; it may be your best friend if your shelter has multiple floors and you want to contain your heat to just one.
Get cozy, honey.
Oh, hey! Speaking of heat, this would be a good time to get up close and personal with whomever you’ve gathered in your group. I’m not talking an apocalyptic booty call, but sleeping in pairs or even groups under blankets will trap in body heat, keeping you warmer while you try to sleep.
(An apocalyptic booty call is fine, by the way. Who knows how much longer you have left on this planet? Go for it if you want. Get it! No judgement here. And FYI skin-on-skin contact really is the best way to use body heat to your advantage. Use that trivia as you will.)
Of course you want to stay bundled up at all times. I’d suggest removing your coat if you can bear it, otherwise you’ll find it even more miserable when you do have to head outside; save the coat for a final layer. When you try to catch a few hours of sleep, don’t consider it a good time to change into good ol’ pajamas; sleep with your hat on, as well as your shoes or boots, and gloves or mitts. In general, whether you’re awake or asleep, stick with layers. You don’t want to warm up so much that you start to sweat (sweating will make your inner layers wet, which translates to cold), so layers can be shed or added as needed.
Watch any other heating sources.
Propane heaters are not meant for indoor use. Not much good to survive all those zombies only to die because of carbon monoxide poisoning, right? If you use terracotta pots with candles for heat, don’t leave them unattended, as they have been known to combust due to wax buildup. A simple candle can provide a little bit of heat but again, they need to be watched carefully. If the house you are using has a wood stove you can use that for heat AND for cooking, but use it wisely – remember that smoke can attract zombies and other humans who may not have your best interest in mind.
Consider the basement – but cautiously.
If high winds are contributing to the cold in your shelter, the basement (if you have one) may help to keep you warmer. The basement is a great place to cool off on a hot summer day, but it actually offers a bit of comfort in the cold as well. That’s because the ground temperature is probably going to feel warmer than the air does. Plus, the wind can’t hit the part of the house that is underground.
If it comes down to absolute necessity, it’s a decent option to avoid freezing. However, keep in mind that if the undead have not yet turned to pillars of ice, and they manage to get into your basement, you may have limited escape options. It wouldn’t be my first choice to be below ground with – most often – only one good way out. Also, if it’s a finished basement you could stay reasonably cozy, but an unfinished cellar is definitely not ideal. Ever tried to warm up on a really damp day? Yeah, good luck with that on an apocalypse level.
Put down the booze.
I mean, that’s probably pretty good advice for the zombie apocalypse anyway, right? I’m always amazed to see characters in television shows or movies who are chugging back whiskey when the dead are roaming around. Alcohol doesn’t exactly help your reflexes or your ability to think clearly. Just think back to some of the stupid shit you did in college for examples. I won’t list any of my own but you know we mostly all have some stories we could tell. That’s just not a great combo with zombies.
A drink is probably fine. But when it comes to the cold, it’s got an extra level of danger besides having to worry that you’ll swing wide with your machete if you need to defend yourself while tipsy. It’s a very common myth to believe that alcohol warms you up. In fact, it only feels like it does. According to MythBusters, booze will dilate your blood vessels which makes the surface of your skin feel like it’s warmer, but it also causes your core temperature to drop. Your core temperature is way more important.
So if you want a sip of Jack Daniel’s because it’s cold and dark and you’re stuck in a cabin hoping to see spring again, go ahead. But this is not the time to be pounding back shots while playing drinking games. “Never have I ever been this fucking cold…”
Other than that, if you’re stuck surviving in a bitter climate, all you can do it try to outlast the weather and wait for the temperatures to rise again. Ah, the cold winter of the zombie apocalypse. It’s a best-case worst-case situation right? Winter can bring about a break from the zombies, but it sure can cause some issues for people just trying to survive. Take care, hunker down, and wait for spring.
Just make sure you’re ready to fight off the zombies once the spring thaw happens.
What worries YOU most about surviving the end of the world only to have to face down winter?