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Zombies? No. But Be Prepared!

Lake Worth, Florida —(Map)

Early last Sunday morning, some people in Florida got a message warning them about a power outage and a zombie attack. Luckily, that was only half true. Electricity going out, yes. Zombies, no.

Zombies, like ghosts, are not real. But they are a popular costume in the US at Halloween because they are scary. The idea is that zombies are people who have died and come back to life, but without brains. Zombies then attack humans. In some places there are even “Zombie Walks” – parades where people dress up as zombies.

A young girl dressed up as a zombie for Halloween.
A young girl dressed up as a zombie for Halloween.
(Source: Ryan Gudmunson, via Pixabay.)

Power Outage and Zombie Alert

The city of Lake Worth, Florida sends out messages when there are electrical problems. Their computers do this automatically. But last year someone changed all the messages on the computer system to add warnings about zombies. The city still doesn’t know how the messages got changed.

City Hall, Lake Worth, Florida
The city of Lake Worth, Florida sent out a message warning about a zombie attack.
(Source: Nuggetboy, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Ben Kerr, who spoke for the city, says that the messages have talked about zombies since last fall. Usually the city has been able to fix the messages before they go out.

This time, the message did not get fixed. It talked about a “power outage and zombie alert ” and warned about “extreme zombie activity”.

The Palm Beach Post put a picture of the message on Twitter.

The city says it has now removed all of the zombie messages. Mr. Kerr said he wanted to make it clear “that Lake Worth does not have any zombie activity currently.”

Preparing for a Zombie Attack

This is not the first time a government group has connected the idea of zombies with emergencies. In 2011, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made a website telling people how to prepare for a zombie attack.

Logo of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Logo of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC wants people to prepare for emergencies.
(Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, via Wikimedia Commons.)

The CDC usually tries to help people stay safe and keep them from getting sick. They share their research and ideas about illnesses or dangers that might affect Americans. They also tell people how to get ready for bad things that might happen, such as hurricanes. Why would a serious government group create a website about fake monsters?

The answer is that the people at the CDC did not think many people paid attention when they told them how to get ready for hurricanes. Dave Daigle, who works for the CDC, said, “…we put out the same messages every year, and I wonder if people even see those messages.” Daigle thought more people might pay attention if they talked about preparing for zombies instead.

The CDC made a graphic novel to share with students.
The CDC made a graphic novel to share with students.
(Source: CDC.)

He was right. So many people visited the CDC’s website about preparing for zombies that the website’s computer broke. That happened in less than three days.

But it wasn’t just about attention. The CDC hoped that people would learn to make a plan for emergencies. They made special lesson plans and a graphic novel to share with students. After all, if you’re prepared for a zombie attack, as Mr. Daigle said, “you’re prepared for pretty much anything,”

The CDC and the City of Lake Worth have learned one thing for sure – people really pay attention when you talk about zombies and emergencies.


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