Rooftop survival during a zombie apocalypse

Lets face it, most people live in cities and those aren’t the best places to be during a zombie apocalypse. Living miles away from civilization, already being self reliant and ready for anything is a much better option. But that’s not available for most people, so we’re going to explore rooftop survival for city folks. I recon this will be the best way to survive the apocalypse, at least for a few years. So lets break down the reasons why rooftop survival is a great option for city slickers!

  1. You won’t get out of the city anyway
    I know it’s depressing to hear, but when the dead rise and panic ensues, you won’t be able to leave the city. Every person, in any type of vehicle, will try to leave at once. Meanwhile people are rioting, fighting, looting and what not. The emergency services will be shooting people and zombies randomly in all this chaos. All public transportation will stop. Why? because there are people driving it and they’re not getting paid enough to leave their families to die! The same probably goes for those emergency services. So the streets will be fucked up and get you nowhere. Unless you own a fucking helicopter, because that will be… Wait for it… On a ROOFTOP!

As I’m writing this, I just realized this is the only reason you need to give this a chance. If you live in a city and you’re not away from it when SHTF, you’re stuck there. So lets get to the good stuff on how to survive and shit.


For this example we’re going under the assumption that you’re a prepper and live in an apartment building in a large city. The first thing you’ll need is supplies. For the first period you’ll need lots of canned food, stuff to start fires, to make a permanent shelter and other handy supplies. Store all this in a room in your apartment. Even better, get neighbors involved in this and all store certain items in your apartments. This way you’ll have a small population, with supplies, ready for a zombie outbreak. For a basic understanding of the things you’ll need, here’s a list:

  • Rope ladder
  • Canned food
  • Water
  • Weapons
  • Medical supplies
  • Cooking equipment
  • Games, paint, graffiti
  • Rope, tape, WD40, tools, etc…
  • Building materials like wood, screws, roofing materials
  • Gardening soil
  • Gardening tools
  • Seeds for edible plants, veggies, fruit (pro tip, already grow some in your apartment)
  • Drums, pots, pans (store the other items in these, multinational until deployed)
  • Materials for barricading
  • Animals (edible pets)

Optional useful things:

  • Tents
  • DIY small windmill
  • Generator
  • Fuel
  • Solar panels
  • Electronic equipment (wires, fuses, lamps, batteries)


So you have all of this, spread out over several apartments in your building, or you’ve dedicated a room plus your storage unit to this stuff. You now need a plan, and that plan is pretty fucking simple. Here’s an example of your emergency setup:

When shit hits the fan, you all make your way to your building. Or you’re already there. You get everyone who wants to leave out of the building, while others in your group start moving all the supplies to the roof. You make sure everybody has the keys to get into the other apartments too, in case these group members can’t make it back in time. Or never get back at all. Once all the stuff is on the roof, you make sure the building is barricaded.

You now start a room clearing operation with the larger part of your group, clearing every apartment in the building. You give people hiding the option to join you, to leave or to stay. Unless they’re bitten, then you do what is needed. After clearing the building and barricading the building entrances, you scavenge the other apartments for food, clothing, supplies and whatever you may need. Don’t do this while clearing the building, because you’ll just be making it harder. Write down the apartment numbers that had useful items, plus the room they were in. That way the looting will go fast and efficient.

Meanwhile the group members who went to the roof, start building a first shelter and sort all the supplies brought up by the rest. When everything is on the roof, the building is sealed downstairs and everybody is back safe, you can start barricading. The most ideal situation is to permanently block any staircase. Make it impossible to climb over objects, like couches and tables that you drag out of apartments. Board up every door leading to the staircase from the bottom up. If this is not possible, take furniture from the top floor and make a huge barricade in the staircase that leads to the roof. The entire building is now dead to you, except the rooftop. Barricade the shit out of the staircase leading to the roof and preferably the one leading to the top floor as well.

Now that the building entrances are sealed, the staircase to the roof is secured and the roof door is barricaded shut, you can start your new life. As you can guess from my list of items, you’re going to build huts on the rooftop. Make a supply room with the food you grow in the pots and pans. And if you’re really good, get some electricity going. Otherwise a fire will do of course.¬†Your rooftop will grow into a garden, farm, village and everything you need. A small community of survivors, in a city of the dead.

Now a few items on my list might still need some explaining. The ladder for example is now your only way off the roof, or the only way on for survivors looking to be saved. The edible pets will probably be rabbits, guinea-pigs and such. They breed like rabbits (because they are rabbits) and you can eat them, use their fur and what not. Given their reproduction rate, they’re useful for many things. The games will serve you well too, because long term survival can get boring. So board games, card games, or even paint and graffiti can be used to make your roof more colorful in this now grey world. Or of course write HELP on the rooftop, in case someone wants to HELP you…


A last note and explanation why you should pick a rooftop, instead of an entire building. A building has many entrances, so its hard to guard and keep barricaded. There might be other people still in the building who won’t want to leave, they’ll turn into zombies at some point, so having them as neighbors is not a good idea. There are rooms everywhere where people can hide, fridges filled with food that will go bad and spread illness. There might be looters that try to come in. You can’t really put your feces anywhere… Etc… By creating one very strong barricade in one particular choke-point, namely the one staircase leading up to the roof. And then barricading the door, you’ll make it damn near impossible for anyone to get in. Also the amount of zombies that can press on the barricade will be limited. They’ll be falling and stumbling and never get through it. Opposed to the many doors and windows on the ground floor.

The roof is also great because it gives a view of the current situation, you get sunlight, grow things, signal for help, spot other survivors and much more that you can’t do well from within the building. So start preparing your team, your own family, or with your neighbors.

Last pro tip: Being on a higher rooftop is better. Because you won’t be able to constantly see how rotten the zombies are, or hear them moan. And they’ll probably have a hard time spotting you too when you’re 10 stories up instead of just 1.

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Written by Frank

Dutch guy living in Finland. Founded Zombie Guide Magazine in 2012 as a hobby project.. Which is still is to this day. Besides writing, my passions are fitness, the outdoors and good food.