Are you prepared for a Walking Dead-style zombie apocalypse? The CDC hopes so.
No, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not see a zombie invasion as a realistic future scenario. But the office of emergency preparedness does want you to be prepared for one.
Fear of zombies (not to mention America’s ever-growing obsession with The Walking Dead) is an excellent motivator to get Americans to prepare for an emergency – any emergency, the agency has discovered.
“If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse, you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack,” says Assistant Surgeon General Ali Khan, MD, director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, summing up the campaign’s impact.
Brilliantly conceived by Dave Daigle, associate director of communication, the CDC’s Zombie Apocalypse preparedness campaign features eye-catching posters and other educational materials, and has quickly become one the agency’s most popular and successful public health campaigns yet, thanks to the show’s success. (The national Bath Salts frenzy didn’t hurt either.)
The campaign launched in 2011, inspired by the first season of The Walking Dead in which survivors descend on the CDC headquarters, only to find the government agency woefully unprepared to deal with a pandemic of animated corpses.
“What first began as a tongue in cheek campaign to engage new audiences with preparedness messages has proven to be a very effective platform,” explains the CDC in a recent message highlighting the campaign’s success.
The campaign also includes a graphic novella, Zombie Pandemic, designed to look much like the many popular teenage book series featuring zombies, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures but which in fact walks through disaster preparedness in kid-friendly language..
There’s even a social media page with buttons, badges, eCards, and all sorts of widgets designed to appeal to zombie fanatics.
The Zombie Blog, which unfortunately hasn’t been updated since 2012, features posts with emergency supply lists and links back to the CDC’s emergency preparedness kit.
The success of the campaign – which reportedly cost 87 dollars, launched in one week, and has generated millions of dollars in free media coverage so far – hasn’t gone unnoticed by communications, marketing and public health experts, many of whom have analyzed and touted its success.
The USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism even published an influential case study analyzing the campaign’s impact.
Want to take away some personal benefits from the CDC’s Zombie Apocalypse campaign? Here are the supplies the CDC suggests for a Zombie-related or any other disaster:
- Water (at least 1 gallon per person per day)
- Food (stick to non-perishable staples that your family will actually eat; ie no spam!)
- Medications (Including both over-the-counter and prescription drugs – though stay on top of expiration dates)
- Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, pliers, can opener for above-mentioned cans)
- Battery-Powered Radio
- Sanitation and Hygiene (Soap, towels, dishwashing supplies, disinfectant, etc.)
- Clothing and Bedding (All-season blankets or sleeping bags, sleeping pads and at least one change of clothes for each family member)
- Flashlights and Extra Batteries
- Copies of important documents (Passports, driver’s license, birth certificate, and medical insurance cards for each family member)
- A Supply of Cash
First Aid Supplies (bandages, rubbing alcohol, antibacterial ointment, etc)
Says the CDC, with uncharacteristic humor: “Although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane.”