The Centers for Disease Control seem to have attracted a lot of attention with their recent piece, Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse, where they write:
There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.
If you didn’t read my Zombies as Used in the Contemporary Preparedness Movement post, now would be a good time. It provides a good backdrop for today’s post, discussing the CDC’s use of zombies to promote personal preparedness. You’d almost think Dr. Ali Khan, a public health doctor and the author of the CDC’s zombie piece, read my post before penning Zombie Apocalypse. Maybe he did?
Survival Blog Rawles, criticized the CDC piece, writing:
Ay, ay, ay: CDC Warns Public to Prepare for ‘Zombie Apocalypse’. How could the CDC use such absurd, illogical imagery to promote a family preparedness campaign? They must have let a few overpaid publicity consultants run amok. Be very careful when you ask PR people to “Do something bold, to catch attention.” Did they ever!
I couldn’t disagree with Rawles more.
Question: What’s the single biggest threat after an “event”?
Answer: Unprepared people.
Quote me on this – “A prepared neighbor is a good neighbor.” The vast majority of people are completely unprepared for even a modest emergency. The CDC is trying to promote modest preparedness, and whether you like it or not, zombies attract attention. Zombies work. This makes “zombies” a prepper’s friend, not an enemy.
Maine’s Bangor Daily News (BDN) writes:
Khan’s postings usually draw 1,000 to 3,000 hits in a week. This one — posted Monday — got 30,000 within a day. By Friday, it had gotten 963,000 page views and was the top item viewed on the agency’s Web site, thanks in part to media coverage that began mid-week. “The response has been absolutely excellent. Most people have gotten the fact that this is tongue-and-cheek,” Khan said.
More important, CDC officials said, it is drawing interest from teens and young adults who otherwise would not have read a federal agency’s guidance on the importance of planning an evacuation route or how much water and what tools to store in case a major storm rolls in.
Rawles’ suggestion that this was the result of “a few overpaid publicity consultants” doesn’t hold water. More from the BDN:
The idea evolved from a CDC Twitter session with the public earlier this year about planning for disasters. Activity spiked when dozens of tweets came in from people saying they were concerned about zombies.
Dave Daigle, a veteran communications specialist, proposed the idea of using a zombie hook to spice up the hurricane message. Khan, director of emergency preparedness, approved it immediately and wrote it himself.
There have been few comments asking whether this is the best way for the government to spend tax dollars. The agency is under a tight budget review at the moment and facing potentially serious budget cuts. But the zombie post involved no extra time or expenditure, CDC officials said.
Read the CDC’s Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse piece and be your own judge.
Zombies to promote preparedness – good or bad?
– Ranger Man