Dying to get word out?

May 20th, 2011 by Staff

www.chicagotribune.com — Late spring in the United States means preparing for natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and now … a zombie apocalypse.

Should such a takeover occur, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week announced a few important ghoul-survival guidelines.

“Plan your evacuation route. When zombies are hungry, they won’t stop until they get food (i.e., brains), which means you need to get out of town fast!” reads a blog post by Assistant Surgeon General Ali Khan. “Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time so that the flesh eaters don’t have a chance!”

If this seems like a hoax, it’s not, CDC spokesman Dave Daigle said. The communications team fleshed out the zombie preparedness campaign after noticing a spike in Internet traffic when the monsters were mentioned during an online session about Japan and radiation.

Faced with the yearly task of getting the word out about emergency preparedness before hurricane season, which begins June 1, Daigle said his office decided to try something new. The “tongue-in-cheek” post stresses that its zombie survival advice, including stocking up on water, food and medications, will also work for real disasters.

“Public health and preparedness are not sexy,” Daigle said. “But it turns out, zombies are.”

At least if sexiness is measured in page views. The blog ordinarily receives up to 3,000 unique page views per post, but Wednesday it crashed after 30,000 people flooded the site, Daigle said.

In the coming weeks, the CDC plans on following up to see whether people who read the post increased their emergency preparedness.

“It is strange using zombies,” Daigle said. “But in the end, if more people are prepared, I think that is fantastic.”

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