CDC And The Zombie Apocalypse
In January of this year the United States Center for Disease Control posted a webpage http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm that uses the example of preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse as a way to spread their disaster preparedness message to the public. They even went so far as to publish a comic book this March that goes through a fictional example of a Zombie virus (ZN51) spreading through the USA and showing how the CDC saved the day in only a week. When I first heard about this I thought it was kind of funny and a little bit clever for the CDC to use this message to spread awareness. Of course Zombies are not real, just a term used by survivalists and preppers to describe what the masses of unprepared people will look like in the event of a large scale disaster when they are scurrying to find food, etc. Or are Zombies real?
Zombies In The News?
In the last week or so there are been s few really creepy news stories of Zombie like stories in the news: First the man in Miami who decided to eat the face off of another man. Then a story of a Baltimore man who ate the heart and brain of a schoolmate. Then in two other stories that are; I can’t believe I am writing this…, less weird yet still cannibalistic a New York man takes a bite out of another mans ear. Then there is the story of the woman who is struggling to survive a bout against a Flesh Eating Virus. Lastly, a Swedish sicko cuts off his wife’s lips and eats them.
Did The CDC Send The Right Message?
Don’t worry I haven’t lost my mind and I don’t think any of the above news stories mean that there are Zombies roaming the streets or that any of those stories are at all really about zombies. Personally, I think all of this can be chalked up to “people do stupid things” and mother nature has some pretty mean viruses that can occasionally give us problems. However, aside from the obvious humor that comes from a government agency using Zombies to spread preparedness information there is also some additional information about the CDC’s Zombie Apocalypse comic book that should be addressed because the scenario they paint is far from being close to a reality in a Zombie Apocalypse or otherwise.
First, the CDC’s portrayal of how to go about preparing an emergency kit is very lack luster. They give the impression that a good emergency kit can be thrown together in a couple of minutes from junk laying around your home. And while it may be true that you do have some of the items that should go in an emergency kit around your house it is also very likely that you will need to purchase additional items. Especially if you want to have a kit that is light weight and highly functional. Putting together a comprehensive emergency kit or bag takes a considerable amount of time and forethought, don’t do it last minute.
Second, the CDC blurs the line on exactly how your kit should be used. It isn’t clear whether or not the stuff in the kit is being used immediately after the emergency begins or if it was saved and only used for when the characters were leaving their home to go to a government designated safe area. The impression I took away was that when the characters arrived they were pretty much totally reliant on what the government was going to be able to provide them. I think this is a big mistake. In my opinion your Emergency Kit/Bug Out Bag/72 Hour bag/etc should be kept for getting you from your home to your planned location where you have prepositioned additional supplies or to a family member or friends home who you know is capable of taking care of you and your loved ones because they are also prepared. And you have discussed emergency plans in advance so that everyone knows what to expect and plenty of food and supplies are on hand. But before you ever think about using the emergency kit you should have plenty of food and supplies on hand in your home to sustain yourself for much longer than just 3 days or a week.
Third, the CDC depicted that they would be able to produce a vaccine to the “Zombie Virus” in about a week. This is also a huge misrepresentation in all likelihood it would be much closer to at least six months before any substantial quantities of any sort of vaccine Zombie or otherwise could be produced for the general population. So the idea that all you need to do is prepare for 72 hours or just a week or so isn’t accurate at all. 72 hours will probably cover you for small scale disasters like most storms, tornadoes, snow and ice storms etc where normal services are typically restored fairly quickly. But for a larger scale pandemic, plague, total economic collapse, EMP, etc. You need to think long term, 6 months or more.
What should you do first to stock up?
Emergency planning and disaster preparedness is a big topic and more than I can address in this post. But here is a rough outline for how I recommend stocking up and preparing your food water and supplies.
First, have at least 3-4 weeks of food and water on hand, as well as at least one weapon and ammunition for self defense. This amount of food can be from combining the food in your cabinets and the extra food set back for an emergency. It should be stuff you normally eat, not expensive dehydrated food. Being able to sustain yourself 1 month with no outside help will put you a long way ahead of the vast majority of people.
Second, put together a good emergency kit / Bug Out Bag for each member of your family. This kit should be able to sustain each person for at least 72 hours, but with proper wilderness and urban survival training and knowledge this kit can keep you alive much longer.
Third, put together a Bug Out Load Out (BOLO). A BOLO is a series of containers/boxes/duffle bags/etc that contain enough equipment and food and water for you and your family to spend an extended period of time alone in a remote location or preferably at a friend or family members home in another geographical region that is unaffected by the emergency. Even if they can’t fit you in their house, with a BOLO you should still be able to set up camp in their backyard where you could stay for a while until things normalize. The food in this kit should be non perishable and longer term storage food like dehydrated foods, MRE’s, etc. You may even want to include non-hybrid seeds just in case you need to plant a garden at some point in the future. A BOLO is designed to be carried in your vehicle or in a small trailer behind your vehicle. The BOLO gives you flexibility and options. The BOLO may weigh several hundred pounds or more depending on the size of your family. Think of the BOLO as a Super Bug Out Bag on steroids. Some have called this the “I’m Never Coming Home” Kit. Essentially it is all of the items you would want to take with you if you were forced to leave and were never able to return. Think long term sustainability. Of course the BOLO should include additional weapons, ammunition and money as well as other items like tools, barter items, etc. The BOLO and its contents are designed to be a last resort.
Note: The food water and supplies in your Bug Out Bag and BOLO should not be counted on while you are surviving in place in your home. These are to only be used if you are forced to leave your home.
Fourth, now begin to add to the food and water stores in your home so that you can extend your stay for as long as it is possible given your space constraints in your home. Ideally you are shooting for 6 months or more.
Fifth, work out an emergency plan (the planning portion could begin much earlier) with trusted friends and family in geographically separated areas and preposition food water and supplies with them as well. Work towards having six months or more worth of food water and supplies at their home as well. If you don’t have trusted friends or family who are preppers or they just don’t have the space to accommodate you and your family you can also look at purchasing or identifying a Bug Out Location to outfit instead.
Even though I am a big fan of wilderness survival and enjoy teaching those skills I don’t recommend planning a secluded life in the wilderness as a part of your disaster preparedness plans, its just not realistic for the vast majority of people. We are social creatures and we do our best when we live in social settings. Aside from the vast physical hardships living the wilderness alone also has massive mental and emotional challenges as well. Living in the wilderness is an absolute last resort that should only be utilized if you have exhausted all other options and even then it should only be done short term. You should always plan for returning as soon as possible so that you can be a productive member of the rebuilding effort. Relying on family and friends is a much more realistic and reliable way to keep your immediate family alive. And society will need the efforts of all citizens to help return life to normal after a catastrophic disaster.
What Did The CDC Get Right About The Zombie Apocalypse?
It is good to be prepared just in case of an emergency. And it is factual that the government and other charitable organizations will do all they can to assist the public in an emergency. Many of the unaffected population will also likely do what they can to come to the aid of those in trouble. The F5 tornado in Joplin, MO was an excellent example of how well our system and our citizens can work to help those in need. Should we plan to rely on other people? NO. But we also shouldn’t plan on having to avoid all human contact for years on end just because of a flu pandemic or even a Zombie Apocalypse… :)
What are your plans for the Zombie Apocalypse?
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