Machetes and a master plan: Outdoor store teaches 'zombie survival class'

LYNNWOOD, Wash. -- In his 25 years as an outdoor school instructor, Dave Swan has talked a lot about disasters. Volcanoes? Check. Earthquakes? Sure thing. Tsunamis? Been there, done that.

Wednesday night, however, was a first: preparing for a zombie apocalypse.

"There are people that believe there could be a zombie outbreak - that people are going to come back alive and they're hunting brains," Swan said, laughing. "I don't necessarily believe (it), but with any disaster you're going to be without electricity or unplugged for several days or weeks, and so we just give them the information that you should have ready."

Swan talked about disasters - natural, manmade, and pandemic - in front of a standing-room-only crowd Wednesday night at the Lynwood REI store. The official title of the class: Zombie Preparedness. The unofficial topic, Swan said: surviving urban emergencies - from a giant earthquake to a giant horde of the undead.

"No biting today, so don't bite your neighbors!" he joked as he talked about building fires, stockpiling water, and keeping dehydrated food in case of an emergency. Swan also recommended getting to know neighbors, evacuation routes, and keeping maps on-hand.

"I don't know about killing zombies. I'm not sure what we need to do to stop these people," said Kathy Williams of Everett, laughing. "And body parts falling on me. For one thing, I don't know very much about zombies and I'm kind of interested on how to survive if there's a disaster in an urban setting."

Spenser Porter of Lynnwood said he'd turn to his shotgun if forced to stare down a zombie, but was at the class to learn more about disaster preparedness.

"How to survive on my own in the wild; how to hunt and gather, possibly," he said. "We're on a massive fault line. We're a little overdue for an earthquake. I'm not saying it's going to be huge, but you never know. Something to be cautious about."

Swan talked about earthquakes - and more - in the free, 90-minute annual class, which he said was started last year by REI and is offered at other stores throughout the area. It was so popular Wednesday night, many people were put on a wait list.

"The information that we're giving can be used in urban emergencies, so we put the fun spin on it for the zombies," he said, laughing. "We want to have fun with it and tease a little bit but we also want functional information."