Money well spent
AMC’s The Walking Dead returns this Sunday for its sixth season, and if you’re anything like the show’s 15.8 million viewers, you’re, um, dying, to see it. But if a zombie apocalypse broke out today, would you be ready? And just what essential items do you need to survive an outbreak of the living dead anyway?
In an effort to promote awareness around disaster preparedness (natural and otherwise), the Centers for Disease Control put together a zombie apocalypse preparation kit that details everything you would need to have on hand in the event the living dead showed up at your front door. The practical suggestions are not much different from what the agency recommends in the event of a flood, earthquake, or other natural disaster. We took the CDC’s recommendations and a few others from ‘zombie expert’ Max Brooks, author of The Zombie Survival Guide, to price out a fairly simple emergency kit that would have you covered for almost any crisis situation.
The purpose of an emergency kit is to hold you over until help arrives or you can get to a shelter. So assuming that government organizations don’t fall to the zombies, we figured that unless you live in a densely populated city like New York or Chicago, two weeks’ worth of supplies should be more than enough to get you through the worst. (To see how your city might fare, check out this zombie apocalypse simulator created by Cornell University researchers.)
To determine the cost of such a survival kit, MONEY priced out two weeks worth of essentials at Walmart.com (note: we chose the retailer for its ubiquity and make no claims for these products’ effectiveness in a zombie infestation). The CDC’s recommended survival kit would cost roughly $450.66. That seems expensive, but since this kit could be used for virtually any natural disaster, we consider it money well spent. And if The Walking Dead has taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for every single situation—even one as outlandish as consuming tainted meat.
Read next: 5 Ways to Disaster-Proof Your Finances
While water is important to keep you hydrated, it’s also useful for sanitation purposes and cooking. That’s why the CDC recommends 1 gallon of water per person per day. Fourteen gallons worth of Great Value water at Walmart.com is $12.32.
You can pretty much say goodbye to everything in your fridge since there might not be electricity in a zombie apocalypse. So it’s time to stock up on non-perishable, dry-freezed food items. The CDC has list of foods to store for emergencies and we priced some of those out below. If these look sort of boring or bland, check out Real Simple’s article on the best foods to stockpile for an emergency if you want more food options. The total of everything below came to $117.74.
- Augason Farms Dehydrated Potato Flakes (30 servings): $7.41
- Augason Farms Emergency Food Honey-Coated Banana Slices (22 servings): $9.44
- Wellington Whole 7 Grain Water Cracker (96 servings): $27.35
- Great Value Instant Dry Milk (80 servings): $15.98
- Augason Farms Emergency Food Chicken Bouillon Powdered Extract (921 servings): $17.13
- Augason Farms Dehydrated Spinach Flakes (45 servings): $10.00
- Emergency Essentials Food Peanut Butter Powder (89 servings): $13.98
- Augason Farms Emergency Food Cream of Chicken Soup Mix (32 servings): $16.45
A first aid kit is essential for treating basic cuts and lacerations, according to the CDC. The first aid kit we found will only set you back about $47.79 on Walmart.com and has enough supplies for 50 people. All that being said, some Neosporin won’t stop you from turning if you’re bit by a zombie.
The CDC recommends that you keep 1 week worth of extra prescriptions in your stockpile. Express Scripts reported that in 2014 the average member spent $668.75 per year for traditional drugs and $311.11 for specialty medicines. That means that on average, one person spends about $18.84 a week on prescription drugs. We’ll double that for a 2-weeks supply, which comes to $37.68.
In a viral outbreak, hygiene could just save your life. While many of these items could be found around your house, having extra in the case of an emergency is important. And these items really don’t cost that much: $29.34 in total.
Two weeks is a long time and you might want to have an extra pair of clothes handy to alternate until you’re able to seek long-term shelter. Stash away a (fashionable) Wal-Mart outfit and an emergency blanket for roughly $44.05.
It’s a good practice to have copies of all your important documents handy in case of an emergency. And really copying these documents shouldn’t cost you much. At $0.69 a copy (what FedEx charges), we estimate that it would cost you $4.83 to make duplicates of everything below. We found a roadmap online for $5.99. According to CostHelper.com, it costs between $20 and $100 to duplicate a car key and $1.50 and $4 to duplicate a home key. In total, important documents will cost between $32.32 and $114.82, depending on how much your car key costs.
- Copy of your driver’s license
- Copy of your passport
- Copy of your birth certificate
- Paperwork about any serious or on-going medical condition
- Family and emergency contact information
- Copy of your insurance card
- Copy of your immunization records
- Extra cash
- Map(s) of the area
- Extra set of car keys and house keys
For the most part, the CDC suggests relatively inexpensive tools to keep handy such as a utility knife, duct tape, and extra batteries. The most expensive item on this list is the NOAA Weather Radio, which must be solar- or crank-powered, states the CDC. All these items add up to $121.77.
- Stanley Tools Interlock Retractable Utility Knife: $4.12
- 4 Duck Brand Duct Tape: $15.88
- Midland ER300 Emergency Solar Hand Crank AM FM Digital NOAA Weather Radio: $51.95
- Rayovac Alkaline Value Pack C Batteries (8 ct.) for radio: $9.97
- Energizer Max AA household batteries (24 ct.): $13.97
- Energizer Max AAA household batteries (24 ct.): $13.99
- Rayovac 10 LED 6V Floating Lantern: $4.92 (the description says it’s perfect for your emergency kit!)
- Farberware Professional Can Opener: $6.97
In The Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks reassures readers that it’s “much easier to run (or walk quickly) than stand and fight” a zombie. So if you trust Brooks’ assumption that zombies will be slow-moving and not hyper-fast like those in 28 Hours Later, you really don’t need to have much to protect yourself. In fact, you might not need more than just a handy melee weapon. Brooks recommends that you equip yourself with a blunt weapon in the event that you are faced with a hungry walker in close quarters. His recommendation? A crowbar because it can be used to perform other important tasks such as to pry open a door or shift a heavy object. A Stanley Hand Tools Wrecking Bar Goose Neck Pattern crowbar runs for $7.65 on Walmart.com.