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Zombie Nation: Move over Dorothy, Zombies are Taking Over

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By Devan Tucking-Strickler, Kansas Division of Emergency Management

When people hear “Kansas,” many think of a yellow brick road, ruby slippers, and a cute little dog named Toto. I’ve never met anyone that heard “Kansas” and thought of zombies… until a year ago. That’s when we started the “Prepare for the Unexpected” campaign. Who would have thought that zombies could bring so much attention to disaster preparedness?! Throughout October 2011 the Kansas Division of Emergency Management and other county Emergency Management offices used brain-eating, decaying sci-fi monsters to get Kansas citizens thinking about disaster preparedness, and it worked!

Zombie Preparedness Day in Kansas “If you’re prepared for zombies, then you’re prepared for anything,” became our tagline. We got the attention of young and old alike through outreach at the Kansas State Fair and other events throughout the state. We offered contests for all ages and used social media to promote preparedness. The month ended with Zombie Preparedness Day in the capital city of Topeka where we celebrated with a safety fair, demonstrations, and a zombie walk.

 What makes zombies the perfect preparedness mascot? When you walk up to a person and start talking about the undead they have all kinds of preparedness ideas, most involving food, water, and other life essentials which just so happen to be the same items that we recommend people put in their disaster kit. So, the old adage really holds true, if you’re prepared for zombies, then you’re prepared for anything.

 For more information on this Campaign, please contact Sharon Watson at  sharon.watson3@us.army.mil

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14 comments on “Zombie Nation: Move over Dorothy, Zombies are Taking Over”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    Am I the ONLY one who thinks this is a waste of tax money? Please explain to me how this scenario was as useful as a more likely one.

    Wow, what a great way to get people involved and talking about disaster-preparedness! I’m impressed.

    I don’t think it’s a waste of tax money at all. While the theme of the event is highly unlikely to ever occur, it DID draw a lot of attention. The more attention drawn, the more aware people are of the necessities of preparation. Based on what I have read on this website, the event was a success and thus not a waste of time, effort, and money. People are now more aware of how to prepare for disaster simply because this event was more interesting than it would’ve been otherwise. If you still don’t get it, try reading the article again (if you read it at all the first time).

    I actually think its a great way to provoke interest in people who perhaps wouldn’t normally think (or care) too much about emergency preparedness. Zombies are big at the moment – and certainly get one’s attention. Bird flu may be more likely – but zombies are more fun! (At least while they’re not real!)

    This is a brilliant strategy, and I am thrilled to see CDC and related organizations approaching emergency preparedness education with something this innovative. I can understand why Todd might think it a waste of money, seeing it as taking something serious and making it too silly, but the seriousness of the subject is one of the biggest reason people won’t follow through with simple emergency preparedness precautions – talking about the possibilities/probabilities of things going very badly is almost as difficult to do as talking about our eventual death – most people would rather put off thinking about it as long as possible. The absurdity of a Zombie Apocalypse opens the door in a playful way, making it a little easier to stay focused on getting through the emergency prep checklists we should all have done.

    I think it worked because it wasn’t serious. I think most people have watched a horror movie and said “oh if that was I’d have…” and had formed a plan. Which is much easier to do when its not really happening to you. So this was brilliant because not only did people find a practical use for their day dreaming but they’ll leave and not forget what they learned because they had fun learning it.

    Todd, there are people that “get it” and people that “don’t get it”. You just don’t get it, and no amount of explanation will help. You can rest in some comfort that you’re not alone, there are other people out there that don’t get it. You’ll just have to accept the fact that this is a brilliant campaign to get people involved, and in the process more people “get it”.

    I don’t feel like this is was a waist of time at all. I also feel that it is not so far fetched that we could have a zombie apocalypse. There have already been cases of people with “zombie like behavior”.

    What a great way to turn something so serious and drab into something fun! I don’t think that using taxpayer money to possibly save lives is a waste at all! I applaud you CDC!

    Maybe we should consider being kind to Todd and other skeptics. The CDC could have just published basic guide to emergency preparedness, but the agency chose to use graphic fiction to illustrate the importance of being prepared for emergencies and also poke fun at how tedious and boring these articles can be.

    wow..todd was the first guy to write and he was the only one who disagreed…perhaps he thought other people would agree with him… so i guess that was a bad guess :)

    Whether you think zombies are real or fiction, you can’t deny that it was a successful public awareness and education campaign. No marketing campaign, whether for a consumer product or a PSA, will appeal to everyone. If you’re the practical type that lives by the numbers, then the FEMA, DHS, etc. sites already give you what you need to prepare. These marketing campaigns are designed to get people who wouldn’t otherwise give a hoot to open their eyes and think about things. I’d say it worked, and worked well.

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