MCKINLEY PARK — When fighting zombies, Nick Conrad does not recommend guns. Guns run out of ammo.
"They're heavy. They're cumbersome. They take maintenance," Conrad said. "You can make any blunt object work for you. Blades never run out of ammo."
On Saturday, Conrad dispensed tips on how to best survive zombies and other end-of-the-world scenarios in a packed room at the McKinley Park Library.
A small boy raised his hand and asked if a BB gun would work against the undead.
"Um, I think that's just going to anger a zombie," Conrad said. "I wouldn't attack a zombie with a BB gun."
Conrad has been teaching zombie survival skills for almost a year. And no, the Lakeview resident does not believe in zombies. But he said the training needed to survive a hypothetical zombie apocalypse will work for most other disasters, too.
"It's mainly about disaster survival," Conrad said of his class. "That's the heart of it because if you're prepared for zombies, you're prepared for everything."
Conrad, an Eagle Scout, runs The Green Suite, a business offering a number of DIY courses like indoor farming or building homemade solar panels.
And the 32-year-old is also a self-proclaimed "zombie enthusiast," so he combined his interests and started teaching a survival class.
"At first, most people I tell that I do a zombie survival class, they're like, 'That's ridiculous,'" he said. "But by the end of the class, they're like, 'Man this was so fun.'"
Anyone trying to outlast zombies needs to keep in mind a hierarchy of needs, Conrad said.
In any emergency, security is the first and foremost. In addition to listing off possible weapons — Conrad showed trainees his homemade crossbow and bat topped with a saw blade — people need to have an evacuation plan.
Those in the audience also got ideas of where to go for supplies — think pet stores instead of grocery stores — and also learned how to make homemade water filtration systems, wind turbines and penny stoves. And Conrad said survivalists should always have a "bug-out bag" ready, a bag kept around the house that have basic supplies you would need to live.
Conrad said the same skills that may help you avoid an untimely death at the hands of a brain-hungry zombie would also help in other disasters, like say, a disease pandemic or a comet striking the earth.
"Bruce Willis would save us though, I hope," he jokes, referencing the doomsday movie "Armageddon."
At the end of Saturday's training, 14-year-old Ian Nichols was ready for a zombie apocalypse.
The teen's mother, Ana Marie Gauthier, said she brought her son to the training because he loves zombies. He and his friends play zombie games during recess, and Ian was a zombie for Halloween.
"Apparently, all the kids are into zombies, and it's no longer vampires and wizards and witches," Gauthier said. "It's moved onto zombies now. I guess they're going down the alphabet."
Gauthier said she was expecting some sort of a play or something with zombies walking around but said the training was better than she expected.
"It made me think to prepare a lot ... for whatever may occur, whether it's natural disasters or zombies," she said, laughing. "I learned a lot."
Ian said he felt the same way.
"What I liked was the electricity stuff," he said. "That was cool."
Saturday's training was part of a program at the McKinley Park library that offered a special collection of post-apocalyptic books that included everything from the Walking Dead graphic novels to books about the bubonic plague in the Middle Ages, said library branch manager Cheryll Adams.
Adams said the class was meant to be fun for kids and adults and "entertain and educate at the same time."
"That's what I like about this. People could walk out of here going, you know what, we do need a plan if the house catches fire," Adams said. "And the bat, who could top that?"
For those who missed out, an upcoming zombie survival course is scheduled for November 20 at the Holiday Club, 4000 North Sheridan Road.