In order to successfully begin killing zombies. Establish the following facts:

Who is directing the zombies?

If the zombies are being directed by George Romero, a simple attack on the brain of the creature will destroy them. Some people confuse this for any attack on the head and will be in for a nasty surprise when their knock to the head does nothing.

Examples of this can be found in the films Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. The same vulnerability is found in other directors films such as Cemetary Man.

If the zombies are being directed by Dan O'Brannon, multiple possibilities are available but the same method will never work twice. Buring to ashes, Nuclear Attacks and Electricity are all used but in the end none of these function anymore as his zombies change every time.

You can see these methods in action in Return of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead II and Return of the Living Dead III.

Finally, if you are facing Voodoo zombies as opposed to actual walking dead, you will have to be far more cautious in your approach. Voodoo zombies are typically not actually dead, but are humans under the control of a hogan or Voodoo Queen. You may wish to avoid killing them altogether and simply subdue them or find an anti-toxin for the mind control potion that is usually used in these approaches. However, if you are an Action Hero, you can safely ignore this approach and kill as many as you like since the law never actually applies to you.
As is stated above, different breeds of zombies are killed in different ways. But it does not explain the complete METHOD for "How To Kill A Zombie". I will attempt to rectify this.

First, the Defensive Method For Killing A Zombie:

1. Get a phonebook/address book/directory/advice from someone you know to be living. Use this to find a gun shop.
2. Get a shotgun, with lots of ammo.
3. Wait for a zombie to come near the gunshop, but hopefully not WITHIN the gun shop. Shoot it with the shotgun, preferably in the skull. If it isn't dead, shoot it again. And again, and again, and again, until it is completely dismembered. If the smaller parts, such as the remains of the hands, do not continue moving, you may stop firing and continue on to another zombie. If the smaller parts keep moving, on the other hand,you have to keep trying to kill it, because now it's after you and it's pissed (if this breed has the capacity to be pissed).
4. Use whatever's handy to burn it, electrocute it, or contain it in a safe area (which you can safely run from afterwards in case it gets out). I'd suggest burning it with a match and oil, gasoline, or whatever else you have that's flammable. Electrocution can be done with electrical wires from home appliances, shop appliances, or telephone poles. Containing it... well, that's difficult. I suppose you could try to nail it to something with a nailgun, or you could try to squeeze it into some sort of large pet shop cage.
5. Overall, the rule is BE RESOURCEFUL. You have to find your own ways to shoot it, burn it, electrocute it, or contain it, as "whatever's handy" is much better than describing anything specific. The gun shop, however, is still the best idea.

The Offensive Method for Killing a Zombie:

1. Follow steps 1 and 2 from the Defensive Method for Killing a Zombie.
2. Run out of the gun shop, find some zombies, and shoot them! Shoot'em good!
3. Die a horrible, horrible death at the hands of the zombie horde, because going out and hunting large mobs of zombies is dumb. Really dumb.

I suggest using the Defensive Method if you wish to survive your own personal Night of the Living Dead, but either is a perfectly acceptable choice. Except the second one.

How to survive against 4 simple steps

1. Establish Helpful facts

Generally, people spend far too much time pondering the deep philosophical questions concerned with the dead rising from the grave. There are several things about the zombie masses that you will want to learn in order to better plan your actions. A concise and careful plan should allow you (with some degree of luck) to survive a zombie apocalypse.

a. How resilient to damage are these undead?
This is a pretty important one. In general, one needs to destroy the brain of a zombie in order to fully incapacitate it. However, some undead will continue to function sans head. Others may be 're-killed' by merely severing the spinal column or even causing severe damage to other internal organs. It would behoove you to figure out with which kind you are dealing.

b. What senses do these undead possess?
This may seem irrelevant, however, it can be a HUGE factor in how you will plan out your actions in a zombie apocalypse...the biggest aspect of this question is Are these zombies innately drawn to human life? In many zombie epics, zombies seem to come from all across the land to wherever people are hiding out. If the undead with which you are dealing are drawn to you from long distances, without sensing you in any traditional way, you will need to act very differently than you would if the zombies only possess the normal human spectrum of sensory equipment. This is probably information you will only discover too late, unfortunately.

c. How fast are these undead? And how smart?
This is probably the easiest fact to figure out, and is vital to your survival to know. Most zombies of film and literature are slow, shambling, stupid things, which can easily be outrun and outsmarted. If however, you are dealing with zombies that can move as fast as living humans, or retain much of their logical functions, you could be in severe trouble.

d. Are these undead a local phenomena?
If you can avoid the zombie apocalypse by simply running away, it would be nice to know. Generally, they start in one area, but can spread out very rapidly, like an Ebola epidemic. If the zombies have only cropped up on a very local scale, hijacking a plane and winding up in a prison on the opposite side of the globe may be a plan with some merit. The news (if it is still in operation at the time you realize you are in a zombie scenario) should be able to shed some light as to the scale of the infestation.

e. What will turn you into one of these undead?
Usually a zombies bite is what does it, but you should never just assume that this is the case. It could be a virus, and thus transferable through air, water, close contact with the infected, fluids, food...Until you can verify that bites are the only method of 'catching zombie', you need to proceed with extreme caution.

2. Generate a plan based on what you know

Initially, you won't know anything beyond the fact that there are zombies, and you want to survive them. As time progresses, if you survive, you will have learned the answers to many of the above questions. This will allow you to adjust your plan as necessary. Here's an initial plan that I would recommend following:

a. Avoid conflicts with zombies.
Fighting zombies is a great way to get killed by zombies. Be sneaky. Move through lesser populated areas that offer some way to stay hidden. Don't use roads, if you can avoid it. Don't drive, highways and even lesser roads are likely to be completely blocked, and filled with zombies to boot. If a zombie sees you, just try to speed up enough to lose it.

b. Get some supplies.
Good places to loot include military surplus stores, hunting/camping/outdoors supply shops, gas stations (none of the food is perishable), and residential homes. Supplies you want to acquire include:

c. Make your way to a shelter.
What you are looking for is a fortress. Find a large building or complex which meets as many of these criteria as possible:
  • Has a perimeter fence.
  • Is too large to be easily surrounded.
  • Would not have been occupied at the time zombies took over.
  • Has no glass at ground level.
  • Has a garage which is accessible from the inside, but easily secured. This is important for escaping very speedily if you become surrounded...You will need a large truck in this garage, with a full tank, for such an occasion
  • Has multiple layers of security...Fences, locks, barricades, obstacles, etc.
  • Has hiding places which would be inaccessible to zombies.
  • Is isolated.
  • Has multiple ways to exit.
  • Has an abundance of non-perishable food and water.
A few good examples are malls, airports, warehouses, factories, military bases, apartment complexes, gated communities, gated storage facilities (bring a ladder, and live on top of all the storage units...) and any kind of large building attached to a parking garage. If you are in a more rural setting, you will have to settle for something simpler, but you should have less zombies to worry about.

d. Work to increase the effectiveness of your shelter.
Batten down the hatches! If there are windows on the ground floor, cover them. If there are zombies inside it, destroy them. If a door won't lock tight, block it off. Create several escape plans, and practice them to ensure they work. Keep watch for approaching zombies, and if it looks like enough are headed your way to surround you, abandon the sanctuary.

e. Forage for additional supplies.
Unfortunately, you will need to venture out into the post-apocalyptic world from time to time, in order to stockpile more food, water, weaponry and miscellaneous supplies. Proceed as you did initially, with extreme caution. The last thing you want is to have zombies follow you back to your hideout. If you are pursued by zombies, DON'T retreat to your shelter, just try like hell to evade them and lead them somewhere else. These explorations could take anywhere up to a week, so definitely bring a lot of food and water.

3. Adjust your plan for long term survival

Every time you learn something new about the undead with which you are dealing, you can make adjustments to the plan.

For instance, if you manage to learn that zombification is not transmitted via airborne pathogens, you won't have to lug an air filter around anymore.

Or if you discover that the undead will gravitate towards human life from great distances without sensing it in the normal way, you may well need to become a nomad, constantly on the move. This would negate much of the need to find an ideal shelter, but does not bode well for survival, as zombies do not ever stop coming after you.

The zombie infestation may even become so minimal after a time that will be able to relax a great deal, and concentrate on raising animals, farming crops, and generally making the post-apocalyptic world more livable. On the other hand, it may become so zombie-ridden that you find it impossible to attain a sanctuary which will not be overrun by hordes of shambling corpses. The zombies may be so thick that escape from your current location becomes impossible, no matter how well thought out your escape plans were. There are some very bleak prospects when existing in an undead-centric society.

Long-term zombie survival is a very difficult prospect in most scenarios. You need to figure out how to keep yourself hydrated and fed in a world without farmers, stores, or mass-produced food/beverages of any kind. You need to learn to keep healthy in a world without doctors. And you will need to find a way to execute the next step...

4. Do not go Insane

Seems simple enough. But if you can keep yourself alive in a world of undead terror indefinitely, you are going to eventually have to come to terms with some very mind-shattering issues. You will be lonely. You will feel tremendous guilt about all the people you loved dying, and that you failed to save them. You may even see them as zombies, which can be very tough to cope with. It will be like surviving a holocaust, except that all your fallen comrades will always be nearby. Taunting you. A constant reminder of the horror. A constant reminder of the guilt. A constant reminder of your terrible situation, which conversely will have you longing for the way things once were.

In order to keep sane, you will need to concoct elaborate distractions for yourself. Zombies are in and of themselves a pretty severe distraction, but if you are successful in locating a shelter and keeping it secure, you won't want to wander out into the middle of a zombie horde for therapeutic reasons. That's just silly. If you are not alone, you are a lot less likely to go insane. Having a companion would be a tremendous asset in a post-apocalyptic scenario. Sadly, as good as other humans are for your mental health, they may not always be good at keeping you alive. On the surface, they would seem to can takes turns sleeping, in order to avoid getting eaten in the night, you can watch each other's back, you can forage more effectively, build barriers and other defenses more rapidly, etc. However, more humans means more meat, which attracts more zombies. You are twice as likely to be detected by undead if there are two of you. Moreover, you might be put in a situation where saving the other person could cost you your own life. It may seem cold, but if your true goal is survival, avoiding other people (excepting a large, heavily armed rescue party...) is probably your best bet.

So how do you keep yourself away from the deep end?

If the zombie scourge is not so severe as to keep you from venturing out to forage on a regular basis, start looking for comfort items. Create a library. Decorate your shelter. Get that computer or video game console you always wanted. If you are holed up in a large building (as per my recommendation), build something that is entertaining. A skate park. A basketball hoop. A race track for the forklifts in your warehouse. Create some art, be it painting, sculpture, or collage. Write a novel. Design home-made weapons that will more effectively destroy zombies. Learn Esperanto. Watch old DVDs of television. Heck, create a complete lineup of television DVDs, and play different episodes each day, simulating actual television. So long as you keep yourself occupied, and learn to have fun in the undead-ruled world, you will probably maintain a much better grip on sanity than you would if you were constantly wracked by pain, guilt and self-loathing.

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