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What would you do if faced with a zombie invasion in your analytical laboratory? LCGC Blog editor Kevin Schug provides guidelines and suggestions for fending off an attack, including how to use glassware and dead chromatography columns as defensive weapons and novel applications for laboratory lasers.
The other day I read an interview with an actress from one of the many popular television shows about zombies. I cannot claim to have followed any of these shows very closely, but a particular comment caught my attention. When the actress was asked if she would be prepared to confront a zombie uprising in real life, she answered with a resounding, “Yes!”
So, I immediately started thinking that there are many thousands of other fellow analytical chemists out there (let’s not worry about organic chemists or others at this point — we can use them to buy ourselves time) who probably have not considered what they would do if faced with a zombie invasion in their workplace. I subsequently felt compelled to come up with some ideas about how to use the resources we have available around us and be more prepared should the inevitable happen. After all, Halloween is approaching.
Before we begin with specific recommendations, let’s consider some general ones. You are working after dusk in the lab, and you see or hear some zombie activity in the hall. I think one of the first things to assess is whether you are dealing with zombies of the 28 Days Later or Zombieland flavor (that is, they are fast) or the slower Night of the Living Dead or Shaun of the Dead variety. One way to differentiate them is to assess whether they are twitching or vomiting on the door with high frequency (these are probably the fast kind) or if they are exhibiting more of a low moan, stiff-legged, and arms-extended-out-in-front-of-them demeanor (these are probably the slower kind). Obviously, your choice of weapon and time for creativity will depend on your predicament. Also, even if one of the zombies is one of your close coworkers, students, or — heaven-forbid! — bosses or professors, do not be sympathetic. Literature and documentation indicate that zombies are only interested in eating your brains. Of course, verify that there is a genuine threat. My kids have practiced their zombie imitations extensively, and they are pretty good — especially the 3 year old. You do not want to act prematurely if one of your coworkers is simply playing a joke and acting like a zombie. In all seriousness, this could be grounds for filing a grievance with your supervisor, given the gravity of the offense. Zombie attacks are nothing to joke about.
The best thing you can do is use the tools that you have around you. Remember that you generally want to strike for the head. If you lop off an arm, the rest of the zombie and possibly the arm itself will continue to come after you. So take the time now to look around your laboratory and plan ahead. Here are some specific recommendations to consider:
There are probably other possibilities, but that is not the point. All labs have different resources, and you need to be prepared. Do not forget about company policy. In the event of a zombie attack, do not forget to first contact campus police (or company security), your supervisor (unless he or she is one of the zombies you faced), and Environmental Health and Safety (or your company safety officer) to notify them of the incident. If you have the opportunity, collect and send me some zombie blood or goo. I would be interested to evaluate the protein, lipid, and salt content of this sample matrix in case some future work on zombie biomonitoring becomes a possibility.
I hope that this brief survival guide gives you some ideas to help keep you safe. If you have any other recommendations, please feel free to share. There is only a little time before Halloween is upon us.
Previous blog entries from Kevin Schug: