With a winter apocalypse upon us here in the lower Midwest, where the temperature has plummeted precipitously to the teens and the snow is piled high enough to bury an overly tall mushroom (a “snowfusion” of over three whole inches!), one’s mind begins to wander toward how to survive such an onslaught of nature.

Worse yet, what if the world froze over like in the movie “Snowpiercer?” Or what if the cold temperatures brought out a long-dormant virus that infected us all and turned 90 percent of humanity into vampires or zombies? Or what if the extreme cold drove Canada to invade us in some sort of reverse “Red Dawn” scenario? Horrors!

OK, maybe it is just my warped mind that goes to these places in such moments. Still, humor me, and indulge me in playing out this mental exercise. When the world begins to go straight to Hell, and civilization as we know it looks to be coming to an end, there is only so much time for you and your loved ones to position yourselves for survival.

The timeline is quick because everyone else will be scrambling to do the same, and there is only so much fuel, ammunition, canned food, and defensible geography out there. You will either find yourself getting eaten by zombies, drained of your life-force by vampires, or fighting to the death repelling the first wave of the Canadian invasion. (You Canucks will never take us alive!)

My point is this: You need to move fast in putting your survival plan into action. Don’t waste time dilly-dallying, and please, God, do not think that you will have time to make all of these preparations once the apocalypse actually kicks off. That ship will have sailed, my friends. You will either be ready when the time comes, or you will be a victim, a snack, or a full meal, depending upon your foot speed, body fat percentage, and a host of other considerations.

“Fru,” you may be muttering to yourself right now as you scratch your arms nervously, “how exactly do I prepare so that I am not a blood smoothie for some random vampire, or a bullet sponge for a Canadian sniper?” I am glad you asked. Let us review some simple steps you can take to prepare for a potential apocalypse.

Have an evacuation plan

First, you need to have an evacuation plan. This applies especially if you live in an urban area, where the world is going to collapse first. When civilization comes crumbling down as a result of some instant calamity, the large urban areas will be the first to descend into chaos and Hobbes’s state of nature. They will also be easily sieged and turned into de facto prisons if you find yourself trapped in one. The same goes for suburbia, more or less.

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That being said, you need to have a plan to beat feet out of there when the end arrives. I would recommend having at least one friend or family member who lives out in the country. You know the one I mean. This is the guy who lives in a compound-like home off an old country road, out where his nearest “neighbor” is situated a mile or two away.

This is the family member whose house is scary to drive to at night because it is as dark as Satan’s asshole out there in the sticks, and you can’t see a damn thing right up until the moment you arrive at his dirt driveway, and have to know which tree at which to turn to make it up to the well-concealed house.

The house will preferably have an electrified fence around it, if not an actual moat (you should be so lucky), and will ideally sit upon the highest land feature in the area. In other words, it will be defensible. When the zombies start marauding, this is the spot to which you will want to make a beeline, ASAP.

The faster you get out of the urban death trap, the better. Just be careful screaming up the drive without pre-clearing this with Cousin Otis, or you might find yourself falling victim to some friendly fire as you come tearing into his yard. No doubt he, his wife, and his children will already be manning the guns.

Guns & ammo

That brings us to weapons and ammunition. You will need some reliable, sturdy models of the former, and a LOT of the latter. I would recommend your rifle of choice, but in a large-caliber for hunting and returning effective fire toward the Canadian invaders. Preferably, this will be a long gun with a high-capacity magazine, reliable optics, and the ability to be mechanically altered in order to make it fully automatic.

A 10- or 12-gauge shotgun would not hurt either for close-quarters defense and hunting. And don’t forget your handgun(s) of choice. Stock up, my friends. You really cannot have enough weapons once the world begins to fall apart.

The ammo will be harder to come by. You will need it for hunting food and battling night-walkers of various varieties—depending upon the nature of the apocalypse at hand—as well as for defense. If you load your own ammo, and have access to the needed components, all the better. No matter what, over time, ammo will become scarce. Use and conserve it wisely. It will be worth more than gold.

Hunt, trap, fish

Being comfortable with hunting, trapping, and fishing is the next item of importance. You will need to eat, and MREs, beef jerky, and freeze-dried and canned foods will only last so long. This includes knowing how to field dress, skin, filet, and butcher the game as well. This can be a team effort, of course, with some in charge of hunting and field dressing, and others in charge of preparing the game to cook. Teamwork will be key.

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The division of labor is important, as some will need to hunt, some to care for the sick and young, some to guard the homestead/compound, and some to manage the whole enterprise. What this all adds up to is a governing system.

Who’s the boss?

You will need to establish a chain of command and roles and responsibilities for everyone. Anarchy will kill you just as quickly as a blood-sucking apex predator, and not everyone can be in charge. Someone, or a council of someones, will need to take charge and make sure everyone is contributing productively to the greater good. Think Rick in “The Walking Dead,” or Powers Boothe in “Red Dawn” before he gets killed. Everyone needs to carry their weight and contribute, and someone needs to ensure that happens.

One of the leader’s main tasks will be to formulate a plan to conserve not only ammo, but food, fuel, and water as well. We covered food with hunting, trapping, and fishing, and hopefully water is covered by a natural (and fresh) water feature in the vicinity of your compound. Fuel will be more tricky, and you will want to be near a plentiful supply of wood, if possible.

Hydraulic power is also a possibility, if you can make that work. If you have generators, great, but they will likely be gas- or diesel-powered, and that stuff is going to run out quickly. You will need some ingenuity here, and hopefully you have a smart and capable group with you.

Find some friends

This brings us to personnel. This is not the time to link up with your college buddies from your liberal arts program in sociology. What I am trying to say is that a college diploma is not going to keep you alive in this end-of-days scenario. This is the time to find your plumber buddy, your engineer friend, your cousin who is a carpenter, your brother who frames houses, your Amish father-in-law, and/or ALL of your hunting and fishing buddies. Do not forget your veteran friends, either, unless they are from the Air Force. (Sorry, that was a gratuitous low blow.)

You know the ones I am talking about. These are the go-to guys who always help out in a pinch, and who can fix anything. They drive pick-up trucks with trailers, have spare machine parts in their garages, a workshop full of tools, and a full vegetable garden in the backyard. Glom on to these guys and bring them with you to the compound. They will be the builders of the future civilization you hope to recreate.

Once you have evacuated suburbia or the big city, made it to your isolated compound, and have assembled your team and your supplies, you are ready to start surviving. This might mean erecting defenses against the zombies or vampires, then formulating plans for how to move amongst them so you can hunt and forage.

Or it might mean formulating a plan to resist the invaders so you can be a capable insurrection force to aid the U.S. military in its fight to save the homeland from the Canadian hordes. Either way, you will be girded for battle and ready to survive. Keep your friends and family alive, and live to carry humanity on your back.

The future of our species might depend on you.