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Don't be a Zombie - Prepare for Emergencies

Posted by Scott Elliott, National Institute of Food and Agriculture in Initiatives Conservation
Sep 14, 2016
Purdue Extension’s “Don’t Be a Zombie” exhibit
Purdue Extension’s “Don’t Be a Zombie” exhibit is traveling the country to illustrate the need to prepare for emergencies. Photo by Abby Hostetler

In this guest blog, Abby Hostetler urges people to prepare for emergencies and describes an innovative display that Purdue Extension used at the Indiana State Fair to drive home that point. Because September is National Preparedness Month, it is a good time to think about emergency planning.  Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make an Emergency Communication Plan for you and your family because you just don’t know when disasters will impact your community.

By Abby Hostetler, EDEN Disaster Communications Specialist, Purdue University

Nearly 60,000 visitors to this year's Indiana State Fair encountered zombies lurking around in the corners. Actually, they saw cartoon zombies that were part of an interactive exhibit, Don't Be a Zombie - Be Prepared. The exhibit consists of a walk-though maze and interactive video game designed to simulate a zombie apocalypse.

The goal is to help families learn about disaster preparedness in a fun way. In 2011 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched their Zombie Preparedness campaign to much acclaim and success. The CDC campaign was a gory take on zombies and aimed at a teenage demographic. Once the Extension Disaster Emergency Network (EDEN) got permission from the CDC to adapt the materials into an interactive display, Purdue Extension used third grade classrooms to help tie into the rise of the zombie fad in pop culture while still keeping the materials friendly to all ages.

Purdue Agriculture’s Exhibit Design Center designed and built the maze and accompanying video game. In the video game, the player runs through a post-apocalyptic town collecting supplies for an emergency kit – while zombies are in hot pursuit. The exhibit ends at an underground storm shelter stocked with all the supplies necessary for survival in an emergency.

We hope that people leave the exhibit with four key points: be informed, create a family emergency plan, make an emergency supply kit, and practice and maintain your plan.

  • Be informed - know the threats and hazards to your community – flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, tsunamis, etc.
  • Make a family emergency plan - it should include everyone in your family, including pets, children, and seniors.
  • Make a 72-hour emergency kit -- it should have enough supplies for everyone in your family and include (at least) non-perishable food, a first aid kit, a hand-cranked or battery-powered radio with weather alerts, and one gallon of water per person per day.
  • Practice and maintain your plans on a regular basis - a plan is only good if everyone knows it and it remains current.

The Don’t Be a Zombie exhibit will travel to museums across the country following the Indiana State Fair. The exhibit was developed by Purdue Extension in collaboration with EDEN, the nation’s premier source for disaster preparedness information, a one-stop shop of research-based educational material for all.  EDEN operates locally as part of the Cooperative Extension and Sea Grant Extension Systems’ efforts at each state’s land-grant and sea-grant universities.  The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) contributes funding each year through the Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative and Smith-Lever special needs grants.

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education and extension and seeks to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges.

Category/Topic: Initiatives Conservation