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'Zombie apocalypse' plan teaches real-world lessons
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MHS juniors Schaquoria Barbour (left) and Ashley Faw, members of the HOSA Public Health Emergency Preparedness team, pose recently with their presentation on preparing for a zombie apocalypse. (Contributed photo by Kim Barto)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer

Three Martinsville High School students are ready for a zombie apocalypse - just in case.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a guide for emergency preparedness in case of a zombie apocalypse. The guide began as a tongue-in-cheek campaign to engage new audiences with preparedness messages, according to the CDC's website.

The idea of being prepared for an attack by the undead has drawn quite a bit of attention. And although the CDC isn't suggesting that a zombie apocalypse is possible, officials say thinking about being prepared for a zombie invasion is a way to raise awareness about emergency preparedness in general.

The CDC has reached a wide variety of audiences on all hazard preparedness via the zombie preparedness guide, its website said. As CDC Director Dr. Ali Khan noted, "If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse, you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake or terrorist attack."�

With that in mind, an MHS Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) team will do a presentation on how to be prepared for a zombie apocalypse as part of a competition at the Virginia State HOSA Conference on March 16-18 in Williamsburg.

The team, which focuses on public health emergency preparedness, includes senior Tyler Gutshall, HOSA chapter president; junior Schaquoria Barbour; and junior Ashley Faw.

For their research, the students consulted the CDC's information and other websites, Barbour said.

She said she wasn't expecting to find any websites about a zombie apocalypse, but she and her teammates found 50 or more websites related to the topic.

To illustrate their plan, the students will show a PowerPoint presentation, distribute informational handouts, display a poster and show a sample of a zombie preparedness kit.

The kit includes water; nonperishable food items; medications; tools and supplies such as utility knife, duct tape, battery-powered radio; sanitation and hygiene products such as household bleach, soap, towels; clothing and bedding; important documents such as birth certificate, passport and copies of your driver's license, as suggested on the CDC website.

The emergency preparedness plan - which could be used in case of a zombie attack or other emergencies - also directs people to make exit diagrams by drawing maps of their homes and picking a centralized location for everyone to meet so that no one gets separated, Barbour said.

A poster related specifically to preparing for a zombie apocalypse includes tips on how to identify zombies. Signs include a disheveled appearance, repulsive body odor and a motivation to eat the brains of the living.

The students don't think anyone needs to worry about a zombie attack, but they said some of the same safety tips can be used to prepare for hurricanes, tornadoes and floods.

But Barbour admitted that while she was doing research on zombies, "It made me think ... but it's not real."�


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