Zombie-themed activities teach children about emergency preparedness

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer resources to help middle school age youth prepare for real emergency situations.

Parents, teachers, 4-H club leaders, scout troops and other adults who work with middle school youth, may find the zombie preparedness materials produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an excellent tool to teach the basics of emergency preparedness to children. Although the activities focus on responding to an imaginary zombie invasion, they present useful information and recommended actions that apply to a variety of real disaster situations.

You can download and print copies of their 36-page Zombie novella, “Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic”, that stresses the importance of emergency preparedness in a comic book style. Youth will follow characters Todd and Julie, along with dog Max, as zombies increase in number. Local officials and the CDC respond to the situation much like they would in an actual disaster. Fortunately, all turns out well thanks to a surprise ending to this tale. The final pages offer a preparedness checklist that youth and family members can use to help them be ready before an actual disaster strikes. A link to the CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response is also provided for those who want to learn more about the work being done to strengthen our national preparedness.

In addition to the novella, the CDC offers several detailed lesson plans with preparedness-related activities that can be used in a variety of situations including school classrooms, club meetings and by families. In a one-minute video clip, the CDC first offers youth ”agents” the opportunity to accept a special mission to make sure their community is prepared for a zombie apocalypse. The activities in the accompanying lesson plans educate youth about past disasters and basic terminology. They will then act as members of an emergency response council in a simulated emergency and investigate how the zombie virus is being transmitted at a local event. They will prepare a written speech for the mayor recommending action plans for citizens and conduct a scavenger hunt to find essential items for an emergency kit. Other printable materials include an emergency kit check list and an identification card designed to be carried by youth in their backpack. The card provides spaces for youth contact information as well as that of their parents or caregivers. Any special needs, medical conditions or allergies can also be noted on the card.

Though the novella and lesson plans purportedly deal with a zombie invasion, it is clearly pointed out that advice and information offered is also applies to a variety of potential, real emergency situations including bioterrorism, natural disasters, epidemics and pandemics, and terrorism or other mass casualty events.

The CDC also provides updates about current outbreaks of infectious disease, both in the United States and abroad, suggestions for healthy living, and offers emergency preparedness resources for a wide variety of potential disaster situations.

To learn more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle for yourself and your family, visit the Michigan State University Extension website. On their Food & Health page and their Family page, you will find informative articles, a listing of educational events and programs, and contact information for Extension experts should you have additional questions.

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