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  • Are You Ready for the Zombie Apocalypse?

    Zombie Apocalypse

    When the zombie apocalypse comes, ok, you’ll probably be running for your life. And estate and inheritance issues will be a mess.

    But at least you’ll be able to use Amazon’s game developing software, Lumberyard, to write code for medical equipment, nuclear reactors, and military operations. Under Lumberyard’s terms of service, you’re not allowed do so unless the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (or its successor body) declares a zombie apocalypse.

    Also on the bright side, the CDC has prepared instructions about how to prepare for such a disaster. Five years ago in May, the organization published “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse,” a blog post by Rear Admiral Ali Khan, the head of the CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. Several months later, the organization produced a graphic novel with similar tips.

    By some strange coincidence, those same preparedness tips are useful for more mundane types of emergencies, like a hurricane or influenza pandemic.

    Khan’s blog recommended you start to prepare for a zombie apocalypse by building an emergency kit.

    “This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp,” he joked.

    It also recommended you add maps of the area, a radio and tools like a utility knife and duct tape.  Keep money and copies of important papers with the kit too.

    Next, the blog said, make a plan.

    It’s a four-step process. First, identify the types of emergencies that might hit your area. Second, pick meeting places for your family. There should be one just outside your home and one outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.

    Third, identify emergency contacts, including local authorities and one out of state person you can call to let your family know you’re safe (and haven’t been infected by a zombie bite).

    Finally, plan an evacuation route. Make sure you have alternate routes.

    “When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until they get food (i.e. brains),” Khan wrote.  “Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time so that the flesh eaters don’t have a chance!”

    By the way, according to the graphic novel, anti-zombie vaccines would first be sent to centralized evacuation points. So make sure you keep your gas tank at least half full so you can get there without having to take the time to siphon gas from abandoned vehicles. And keep a first-aid kit in your car too, so you don’t have to improvise basic health care with unclean supplies.

    The CDC does not recommend weapons because, hey, it’s a public health organization, not a law enforcement one. For other ideas about how to prepare for a zombie apocalypse, consider “The Zombie Survival Guide,” by Max Brooks.

    And, uh, if you want more information about how to prepare for a slightly more likely emergency, consider the CDC’s emergency preparedness site or the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s emergency preparedness site,

    And of course, check out Emergency Essentials at for our wide array of zombie-survival paraphernalia.


    How are you prepared for the zombie apocalypse (or other emergency)? Let us know in the comments!


    Disaster_Blog_Banner Zombie Apocalypse

  • Is Your Brain Prepped for Survival?

    BrushfireAn Australian family’s home was threatened by a bushfire a few years back. Bushfires can move very quickly and become very dangerous very fast. When the warning came via TV broadcast, the family moved quickly to prepare their home. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a plan, and their preparations were scattered, jumbled, and rather ineffective. The fire blocked their evacuation, thus trapping them inside their home. They bunkered down in the bathroom, hoping for the best.

    Now, I don’t know about you, but that is definitely not the situation in which I’d like to find myself. Fortunately, this was all part of an ABC Emergency simulation in the form of reality TV. You can watch the 10 minute video right here:



    What happened when this family discovered there was a threat quickly approaching their home? They went to work preparing, but as we saw in the video, they didn’t know how to properly prepare. Their brains shut off, as it were, making it difficult to find simple household objects, or even finish a sentence.

    This is due to adrenaline. According to Ian Mannix – ABC Local's manager of Emergency Coverage – the brain gets overwhelmed by this adrenaline, making it nearly impossible to think clearly. There is a way to counter that, however. Mannix said that “in order to behave habitually, people must also practice the plan under as near to real conditions as possible."

    The brain is an interesting thing. You may have talked about what you can do during an emergency, but until you actually practice it, that information probably won’t be there when you need it.

    BrainPopular Mechanics spoke with John Leach, a former Royal Air Force combat survival instructor. Leach explains why you can’t rely on your brain if you haven’t trained it for an emergency situation: “We cope by taking in information about our environment, and then building a model of that environment. We don't respond to our environment, but to the model of our environment.” Popular Mechanics explains further that “if there's no model, the brain tries to create one, but there's not enough time for that during an emergency.” That’s where things get sketchy.

    When faced with disaster, most people do not act with a clear head. This is what is known as the 10-80-10 theory of survival. In an article by the Daily Mail entitled Is Your Brain Wired to Survive a Disaster?, author Jo Carlowe explains this theory of survival. He points out that, “in a disaster, 10 per cent of people pull themselves together quickly; the majority, 80 per cent, remain stunned and bewildered, while 10 per cent simply freak out.”

    From those three groups, who do you suspect will be most likely to survive during a disaster? Chances are it will be the 10 percent who pull themselves together. Fortunately for everybody, if we don’t already think like a survivor – like that 10 percent who can pull themselves together – we can learn to think like one. And that’s what matters here.

    Under pressure, your brain may just freeze up. One way to avoid this is to increase your situational and self-awareness. Pay attention to what’s around you. Know where the nearest tornado shelter is, or where a good place to stand would be should an earthquake occur. That kind of stuff.

    But one of the best thing you can do is practice.

    Just like that Australian family from the video above, if you don’t have a plan – if you don’t practice – then your brain will have nothing to fall back on when the adrenaline starts pumping and overrides all clear thoughts. If you want to be safe during a disaster, you need to train your brain. Practice isn’t just for sports teams and musicians. It’s for every single one of us.

    Have you taken the time this month to practice using your emergency preparations? If not, now’s the time to do it. Simulate a disaster with your family. What would happen in the event of, say, an earthquake or tornado? Perhaps the power will be out. So, cut off your power and only use your emergency backup power. What else could happen? With the power off, you might need some other way to cook your dinner. Time to bust out that portable stove and a can of grub from your emergency food storage!

    There are so many things that could happen during a disaster. The more you practice, the better prepared you’ll be, the quicker your brain will react to what’s going on, and the safer you’ll be.

    Practicing your prep may take additional time, but you’ll be glad you did it when your brain keeps working in the moment you need it.


    Practice Your Prep


    Additional information:


    Go Dark for a Day [blog post]:


    Trauma Psychologist Rob Gordon Talks About Disaster Preparedness:


    How have you practiced your prep? Share with us in comments!

  • Weathering the Worst of Winter Storms

    1_28_15 Weathering the Worst of Winter StormsThe torrential blizzard predicted to bury New York City turned out to be just delightful snow flurries dusting the iconic Manhattan landmarks. For Boston and the rest of New England, however, Winter Storm Juno lived up to its headliner forecast, dumping 3 feet of snow and more before moving on.

    For every American living in snow country, however, Juno served as a wake-up call, reminding us that the best time to prepare for the "big one" is while the sun is shining, before dark clouds appear on the Weather Service radar and time is running out.

    These simple tips will help you get ready for the next time the snow piles up, the power goes out, the roads are closed, and help may be days away.

    Before the Storm...

    ...Put Together a 72-Hour Kit
    The first three days after a big storm are the toughest. With roads closed and walkways buried, running to the store is dangerous, if not impossible. In addition to paralyzing snow and ice, winter storms often cause widespread power outages and broken water pipes. So, a useful 72-hour kit should contain water, heat, light and communications, as well.
    Here is a short list of the types of things you'll likely need until you can venture out after a big winter storm:

    Keeping your Storm Kit in a sturdy backpack makes it ready to go in times when you need to evacuate. Keeping your Storm Kit in a sturdy backpack makes it ready to go in times when you need to evacuate.
    •  Three days of non-perishable foods like canned goods, dried fruits, nuts, and freeze-dried meals
    • A manual can opener
    • Three days of water (at least three gallons per person)
    • First-aid kit, with essential prescription medicines
    • Flashlights, candles and light sticks
    • Cell phone, with hand-crank charger
    • Portable radio or NOAA weather radio
    • Extra radio and flashlight batteries
    • Baby-care items
    • Pet supplies
    • Extra blankets and sleeping bags
    • A fire extinguisher

    Keep in mind that if your workplace is a long commute from home, you'll need the same items at the office (minus baby and pet supplies, perhaps). Plus, keeping an Emergency Car Kit in your trunk will assure you're ready if weather conditions force you to wait for help along the roadside.

    Some simple household chores will help you avoid some serious winter storm damage. Some simple household chores will help you avoid some serious winter storm damage.

    ...Get Your House Ready

    A few regular home maintenance tasks can do more than just keep a neat home. They can also protect you and your family in the event of a big snowfall or ice storm, as well.

    Take time to see to the following:

    • Ice, snow and wind can snap tree limbs down onto the roof, windows and power lines. Trim away tree branches close to your home.
    • Keep rain gutters clean. Otherwise, snow and ice can build up and allow water to seep under the roof and eaves causing damage to walls and ceilings.
    • See that smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are working and store fresh batteries.
    • Have your chimney flue checked and cleaned, if necessary, to lessen the risk of fire.
    • Make sure your home is properly insulated. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows to keep out cold air.
    • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide insulation.
    • Wrap pipes in insulating foam to keep them from freezing. Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing.
    • Know how to safely shut off gas, electric power and water valves.
    • Check your homeowner's insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage.

    ...Plan for Lights Out

    We all know that, even in the best of times, power outages are not uncommon. While the occasional unplanned candle-lit evening is a charming break from the routine, extended power outages particularly in stormy weather can present significant problems even dangers. These simple steps can further prepare your family for blackouts, whenever they occur:

    Weathering the Worst of Winter Storms3

    • Power sensing flashlights come on automatically when the power goes out. Plug-in a few around your home. Candles and light sticks should be a prep staple, as well.
    • Furnaces, even gas and oil-fired ones, cannot operate without electricity to power the blowers. An indoor rated kerosene or propane heater will keep living spaces livable.
    • Keep a bit of cash stashed in a safe place, since stores and other services (if they are open) will not be able to process credit and debit cards.
    • Make a practice of refilling your car's tank at the half-empty point. This assures you will have at least a tank half-full when electric gas pumps won't operate.
    • Store ice packs that can be moved into the fridge, or into a small cooler for meds.
    • Know how to release garage door openers so that you can manually open your garage.

    Juno reminds us that winter weather can be hard to forecast. But we can all predict that we'll each take our turn being caught in a dangerous storm. These few simple steps can mean the difference between frantically surviving and comfortably weathering your next winter storm.

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