By Jason McDonald
While flipping channels you may have stumbled upon “Doomsday Preppers” on the National Geographic Channel, a show that highlights the great lengths some Americans will go to in order to ensure they are prepared for apocalyptic events. Cameras follow survivalists preparing for various end of the world scenarios – war, pandemic, economic peril – and an expert assesses their preparedness efforts and determines if the “prepper” would survive the catastrophe.
In a recent New York Times article, “Doomsday Preppers” is described as an “[I]nvitation to laugh at lunatics tunneling into mountainsides to escape a Russian nuclear attack,” wrote the Times reporter. Prepping “continues to be thought of as a marginal and unseemly business, something on par with believing that the Bilderberg Group controls world events or that the government is hiding aliens at Area 51.”
Jokes aside, the article ends with the premise that gaps do exist in the government’s ability to respond to mega-disasters and that essentially, everyone (extremist or not) becomes a first responder who must be ready to take on that role.
The ability of individuals to prepare themselves for emergencies can likely mean the difference between life and death in the face of a disaster. While the scenarios profiled on “Doomsday Preppers” are extreme, there are actual disasters – like Superstorm Sandy or the recent tear of extreme storms across the southeast and up the eastern seaboard – that are much more likely to occur and for which personal preparedness is essential. To get this information across, CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response and National Geographic Channel announced a joint venture to have CDC public health preparedness and response messages appear on the program to get rational, credible information to a segment of the viewing public curious about preparedness.
Thanks to this partnership, we have encouraged being prepared for influenza season by recommending flu shots, demonstrated how CDC is ready 24/7 to protect the nation’s health, and given tips on how everyone can be personally prepared without going to the extremes portrayed on “Doomsday Preppers.” Check out the Immunization PSA.
Our preparedness message is simple; get a kit, make a plan, be informed. While you may not need an underground bunker with a year’s supply of canned food, it is a good idea to have a weather radio, flash light, and some non-perishable food items on hand in case the power is knocked out by a storm for example. While you’re putting together your emergency supplies talk to your family about where you would go if you needed to take shelter in your home or if you needed to leave town for an impending hurricane. Not sure what disasters are likely in your area or where you should go during an earthquake or tornado? There are plenty of resources online to get informed about disaster preparedness.
Visit CDC’s preparedness website for more information and to get started.