CDC Zombie Advice Gives Way to Wedding Planning

Jul 10, 2012 3:55pm

First it was a “zombie apocalypse.” Now, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning Americans to prepare for another potentially terrifying event: weddings.

The CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response published Monday the CDC’s Wedding Day Survival Guide, a blog that aims to help frazzled brides, grooms and their beleaguered friends and family members get through the Big Day. After all, the office said in the guide, planning for a wedding isn’t so terribly different from planning for a public health emergency or natural disaster.

“Emergencies could range from a tear in your wedding gown, tornado, health issues, monster-in-laws, or bridezilla on the loose,” the CDC wrote in the blog. “Just like you know the risks of putting feuding family members in one room, you should also know to check the weather report.”

Just in time for the height of wedding and hurricane seasons, the guide encourages those in the wedding party to be ready for anything that might happen on a wedding day: a passed-out guest, an emotional bride or the need to keep guests safe during a tornado or tropical storm. In the name of wedding safety, wedding planners should build a kit, make a plan and stay informed, the CDC said.

Regina Quadir, the health communication specialist who wrote the blog along with a colleague, Caitlin Shockey, said she was inspired by talking with a co-worker who was planning for her sister’s wedding. Quadir said she saw parallels to the hurricanes, tornados, power outages and wildfires that have been plaguing Americans all summer long.

“The two kind of just seemed to have a lot of similarities,” Quadir said. “Both are stressful events where you have to be ready for the unexpected and both require planning ahead.”

The office keeps exploring new ways to refresh its traditionally staid advice on how to build emergency kits and make a plan for a sudden disaster. In May 2011, the CDC’s preparedness office made waves with a blog on how people should prepare for a zombie attack, followed by a graphic novel on the subject posted to the CDC’s website in October.

In February, the office rolled out the “Disaster Movies: Lessons Learned” campaign, in which it pointed out how characters in movies like “Contagion,” “Twister” and “The Day After Tomorrow” might have fared better if they had been prepared for disaster.

The strategy has proved successful. The zombie blog got so many views that it crashed the CDC’s servers in its first week online. Overall, it netted more than 4 million views. The disaster movie blog got more than 15,000 views, and in the past two days, the Wedding Survival Guide has generated 1,000 clicks.

Such numbers are pretty good for CDC articles, said Dave Daigle, an associate director for communications at CDC. A typical CDC blog gets up to 3,000 views in 30 days.

“If we can get people engaged in the topic and get them thinking about building a kit and having a plan,” he said, “we’ll be successful.”

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