From George A. Romero's flat-footed lurchers to the terrifyingly agile runners of "28 Days Later," there's a slew of potential undead visitors that cautious homeowners can protect against this All Hallow's Eve. Get a crash course on zombie-proofing your home in the gallery below from This Old House. Come hell or high water, this guide may be your best source for the impending zombie apocalypse. Don't believe us? Just ask the Centers for Disease Control.
We See Dead People
If the slew of recent TV shows, movies, and books are any indication, zombies are everywhere these days. So whether they're fast, slow, or riddled with rigor mortis, here's a step-by-step guide to keeping the undead out of your house.
Install Doors of the Dead
When dealing with old-school, "Night of the Living Dead"-type zombies (also known as "Romero zombies," after that 1968 film's director) keep in mind that -- since rapid muscle deterioration is par for the postmortem course -- these guys have less muscular strength than Keith Richards on a bad day. One of the simplest ways to combat them is to retrofit your house with stainless-steel doors. Affordable and impenetrable, steel doors can be a living-dead dude's worst enemy. Best of all, any dents or dings caused by your heathen invaders can be pulled and puttied with an auto-body repair kit. For added security, forgo sidelights or transoms and install triple-point locks. Zombies friggin' hate triple-point locks.
Make Sure Windows Are Also Walking-Dead-Proof
While the Winchester Pub seemed like the perfect safe house in 2004's "Shaun of the Dead," it didn't take more than a few broken windows to cause one buzz kill of a safety breach. Houses with tempered-glass windows rated for hurricane zones, or wrought-iron security bars, will be far better off than those with unguarded single-pane windows. Either way it's never a bad idea to reinforce windows with plywood for maximum zombie protection.
Remember: Good Fences = Good Zombie Neighbors
Along with Pittsburgh's three rivers, the only thing that protected the living from the undead in George Romero's 2005 film "Land of the Dead" was a giant electric fence. Well, if it's good enough for the Iron City, it's good enough for your house, too. If you can't afford an electric fence, consider building a tough, tall chain-link, wrought-iron, or cinderblock version (at least eight to twelve feet high) around your property. The local zoning board might take offence, but, seriously, man; this is a zombie invasion. Who cares about zoning?
Move Upstairs and Dismantle Your Staircase
Unless you're dealing with those rare, agile zombies of the "28 Days Later" variety, anyone who lives in a two-story house has a better-than-average chance of survival. Most zombies are pathetic climbers, so eluding them means little more than moving upstairs and removing your staircase. Faced with zombie invasion, many frantic homeowners freak out, mindlessly smashing their staircases with a sledgehammer. However, the more preservation-minded among us prefer dismantling and storing them until the invasion is over. Start by unscrewing the newel posts and banisters, then use a flat crowbar to gently pull up the treads and risers. Temporary access in and out of your house can be provided by either a portable fire ladder or a rope. Those living in one-story houses should take to the attic, then pull up the retractable ladder. Anyone unfortunate enough not to have an attic might have to wait the invasion out on the roof until the undead are returned to the hellmouth from whence they came, or rescue crews arrive.
Your Toolbox Is a Weapon of Mass Destruction
As Woody Harrelson's gun-toting Tallahassee taught us in the 2009 blockbuster, "Zombieland," a sharp set of hedge clippers can lop a zombie's head off, no problem. But there are plenty of other zombie-zapping alternatives right in your workshop or garage. As a rule of thumb, the best way to kill a zombie is to destroy its brain. So your best line of defense is a blunt tool equipped with a long handle, such as an ax or tire iron. The latter is especially helpful, since it can also be jabbed into the zombie's eye socket, gouging its brain. Shovels serve a dual purpose as a blunt weapon and a means of properly burying dead zombies once they've (finally) met their maker.
More Zombie Action Plans at This Old House
Don't lose your head. See the full gallery of tips at This Old House.
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Home inspectors run across some pretty scary stuff--can you say "rabid raccoon?"--and they take the pictures to prove it. Check out these home improvement horrors, as photographed by members of the American Society of Home Inspectors. Click through the gallery to see all their hair-raising discoveries. Happy Halloween!Zany Home Inspection Photos
Edited by Tom Kraeutler, AOL Home Improvement Editor. Reprinted with permission from the ASHI Reporter.
Home inspector Greg Bertaux recently spotted this contraption atop a chimney. Gives new meaning to the term “haute cuisine.?Throw Another Shrimp on the Chimney
Source: Greg Bertaux, P.E., IMHomeInspector.com, Vero Beach, FL, photo courtesy ASHI Reporter.Don't Make the Same Mistake
It’s cheaper than a roof repair, sure, but last time we checked, gutters were supposed to be installed on the outside of the building.Garage Gutter
Source: Pat Norton, Norton Inspection Co., Bloomfield Hills, MI, photo courtesy ASHI Reporter.Don't Make the Same Mistakes
When you can’t find the perfect can lighting fixture, go to the kitchen cupboard and make one yourself!Coffee Can Mood Lighting
Source: Nicholas Dominick, Buyer’s Guide Home Inspections LLC, Gambrills, MD, photo courtesy ASHI Reporter.Don't Make the Same Mistakes
Honey, have you seen the new funnel I bought? I can’t seem to find it!Creative Leak Management
Source: Dan Howard, Home Inspections By Dan Howard, Freeport, PA, photo courtesy ASHI Reporter.Don't Make the Same Mistakes
During a thorough roof inspection, home inspector Lawrence Nies found this unregistered resident. Does the ASPCA do house calls?You Talkin' to Me?
Source: Lawrence F. Nies, National Property Inspections, Wattsburg, PA, photo courtesy ASHI Reporter.Don't Make the Same Mistakes
Hmmm…perhaps the builders ran out of money before they could finish the chimney.Coming Up a Little Short
Source: Jerry Linkhorn, Linkhorn Home Inspections, Thornville, OH, photo courtesy ASHI Reporter.Don't Make the Same Mistakes
How to cut down on noise from an air conditioning unit? I know! Roll out a mattress to help soundproof the bedroom below.Giving the AC a Rest
Source: Steve Hier, Miller-Hier Home Inspection, Chicago, IL, photo courtesy ASHI Reporter.Don't Make the Same Mistakes
Some local critters have found a way to make this attic habitable, even if the homeowners haven’t yet.Getting Cozy in the Attic
Source: Jacob D. Troost, Buyers 1st inspection Service Inc., Brodheadsville, PA, photo courtesy ASHI Reporter.Don't Make the Same Mistakes
It’s common to come across a chimney that needs to be cleaned, but it’ll take a tunnel-boring machine to clear this flue for a wood stove.So That’s Why the Stove is Smoking
Source: David Grudzinski, Advantage Home Inspections, Cranston, RI, photo courtesy ASHI Reporter.Don't Make the Same Mistakes
How can you tell homeowners are cutting back? When the welcome mat is bigger than the patio.The Incredible Shrinking Patio
Source: Brandon Dyles, Picture Perfect Inspections, Bartlett, TN, photo courtesy ASHI Reporter.Don't Make the Same Mistakes