Will the flesh-eating undead show up at your doorstep anytime soon? Probably not, but the CDC isn't waiting. It's put together a tongue-in-cheek primer on preparing for the "zombie apocalypse," saying the same rules apply for other end-of-the-world scenarios. Are you paying attention, Harold Camping?
Keep reading to find out what you should do now to protect yourself then...
Prepare an emergency kit
It's hard to shop when zombies attack, so make sure you have everything you need before the situation arises. That means putting together a kit that contains the basics you and your family will need. Stock up on non-perishable food, bottled water (figure on a gallon of water a day), some first-aid supplies, and clothes and toiletries to tide everyone over for a few days. A good knife might come in handy, as could a battery-powered radio. And don't forget the duct tape!
Lay in a supply of drugs
Drugstores may close their doors early if the zombies get out of hand, so make sure you have enough of the medications you depend on to last a few days. That goes for over-the-counter meds as well as prescription drugs.
Don't forget your documents
Zombies may be good at eating brains, but they're not so good about keeping their personal documents in order. If your documents are in order, that could give you a leg up if you have to convince someone that you're not one of the walking undead. So as part of your emergency planning, make sure you have all your personal documents handy, including your driver's license, passport, and birth certificate. During an emergency, the documents might prove useful even if zombies aren't part of the picture.
Devise an emergency plan
What sorts of emergencies are likely to arise in your area? In addition to a full-blown zombie apocalypse, consider floods, earthquakes, tornados, etc. Not sure about just what sort of emergency you should prepare for? The CDC recommends contacting your local Red Cross chapter.
Pick a meeting place
If those boarded-up windows and doors don't keep zombies out of your home, you may have to skedaddle. But where will you go? And how will you meet up with others in your family - who may be away from home without access to a working telephone? The key, says the CDC, is to decide on a place where family members will meet up no matter where they are when emergency strikes. Actually, it's best to have a couple of meeting places - one right outside your home and one outside your neighborhood in case you can't get anywhere near your home.
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!" That's what the CDC says. To stay safe, it recommends planning not only where to flee but also multiple routes to get there "so that the flesh eaters don't have a chance!"
Or should you stay put?
Zombies in your driveway? In the backyard? Sometimes the safest thing to do when disaster strikes is not to flee but to stay put. In case you'll need to "shelter in place," the CDC recommends choosing a room with few windows and doors - ideally a big room with a water supply. And contact workplaces, children's schools, etc. to find out what their plans are for sheltering in place.
Identify emergency contacts
Designate one friend or family member who lives in another state to be your emergency contact - and make sure everyone in the family has his/her phone number. The idea is to have everyone call in case marauding zombies (or another catastrophe) makes local phone calls difficult. It's also a good idea to make a list of local contacts like the police, fire department. And don't forget "your local zombie response team," the CDC cautions.
Yes, you're a goner if a zombie eats your brain. But until that happens, it's important to keep an even keel - especially if you have kids. As much as possible, calm their fears that someone will be killed or injured, or that they will be abandoned. Zombies or no zombies, keep them informed about potential threats and the steps you're taking to keep everyone safe.