So you think you’re heading north, do you?
Surviving cold weather in a Zombie Apocalypse
By Jamie Friesen
It seems to be a fairly popular idea to head north in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
The hero in the truly awful Land of the Dead thought it was a great idea. Millions of people in Max Brooks’ novel World War Z, millions of North Americans flee to Canada’s North to escape the undead hordes.
So some people think, “Hey, I’ll just head up to Canada where there are more cows than people!”
If you’re thinking that, let me throw some cold water on the idea right now.
Winter’s in Canada are COLD.
I don’t mean, oh, I need a sweater cold either. Or put on a winter jacket cold.
Winters up here are often instantly freeze boiling water cold…just like a couple years ago during the Polar Vortex.
Basically, they are freeze your fucking balls off cold.
And if civilization collapses, you won’t be able to crank up the furnace like most of us do now when winter hits.
Newsflash – people like you are going to die if you aren’t prepared – and let’s face it, most aren’t prepared for a real winter. Instead they freak out because of a snowstorm in Atlanta or a cold front from the Arctic.
Okay, now that the reality check is over, let’s get to some helpful tips in case I haven’t scared you off yet.
The first thing one must know about dealing with extreme cold is that the COLD acronym – used by both the Canadian and American armies to teach soldiers how to properly deal with the cold.
C – Keep all clothing CLEAN
O – Avoid OVERHEATING
L – Wear clothes LOOSE and in LAYERS
D – Keep clothing DRY
All four items should be self-explanatory, but keep your clothes as clean as possible, work at a moderate pace when working outdoors, wear several light jackets/sweaters instead of one thick, heavy jacket, and if your clothing gets wet (say from sweating) it freezes and begins to sap heat from your body very quickly. It is imperative to change immediately to something dry.
The reason experts suggest layering is that you can remove/add layers as you move. A good layering system might be a polypropene undergarment, two pairs of socks, a pair of fleece pants and sweater, with a gortex shell on top. If it is extremely cold – minus 30 degrees Celsius or lower – a gortex parka can be used. A warm hat, like a toque or balaclava, as well as appropriate gloves and winter boots (mukluks are even better) round out the minimum gear needed.
It is also important to remember that the wind is also your enemy. A moderately cold day – like minus 10 Celsius – is relatively easy to endure if one is properly equipped. However, a strong wind on the same day creates a wind chill effect in which the wind strips away your body heat faster than your body can produce it, inducing hypothermia and/frostbite very quickly – in a matter of minutes depending on the temperature and the wind speed.
Winter shelter depends on how far north you go. If you stay below the tree line, trees will break up the wind and lighter gear will suffice. If you plan on going past the tree line out into the open Arctic, you’ll need heavier gear. Most RVs, camping trailers, etc will NOT be warm enough to use in the North – nor are there many roads on which to use them. Likewise, most tents, sleeping bags, etc are not designed for such extreme temperatures. Make sure to buy equipment rated for use in extreme cold. At night, do not sleep in damp clothing – hang them in your shelter to dry and sleep in something else.
Finding sources of food in the North can be a challenge.
The Inuit, however, hunted year round in the Arctic for thousands of years with Stone Age tools.
Below the tree line, there are numerous types of animals – both large and small – that can be hunted or trapped. The Arctic abounds with game from Arctic Hare to caribou (deer) to musk oxen (like a woolly buffalo). Above the tree line, sea mammals will be your preferred game, as seal, walruses and whales had large amounts of meat, fat and skin to consume, although that will mean travelling onto the ice or open sea. Ice fishing is yet another method of finding food in the Arctic.
The key thing to remember is that in the Arctic you must consume the entire animal, not just the parts of the animal most city dwellers are used to. Organs provide much needed vitamins, fat can be used as both food or heating fuel, bones can be turned into spearheads and other tools, and the skins can used for clothing, shelter construction, shoes, even material for a kayak.
So, the real question is can you eat whale blubber? If you can, you might just make it up north.
* * * * *
The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.
Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!
Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!
#WinterofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!