The CDC’s Zombie Survival Guide PDF Could Cost Real Lives

The CDC’s Zombie Survival Guide PDF Could Cost Real Lives
The CDC's zombie survival guide PDF is titled, "Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic." Click the cover to download it for free.


On the one hand, the zombie survival guide PDF published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an innovative way to get the word out about preparedness. On the other, it may be the worst thing to have ever happened to disaster preparation.

The CDC's Zombie Survival Guide PDF
The CDC's zombie survival guide PDF is titled, “Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic.” Click the cover to download it for free through

For starters, the zombie survival guide PDF is in comic form. Not the wording. The format. It's a comic. It tells a story about a zombie outbreak. There are instructions about making survival kits at the end.

That might redeem the comic part if we didn't live in a world full of people who can't separate entertainment from reality. After the Jaws movie came out in 1975, the global shark population took a big hit. This despite the fact I'm more likely to die walking my dog than being killed by a shark. Sure, I live in the Midwest and the only Shark I've seen was fighting a Jet near the park. But that's besides the point. Statistically, everywhere, sharks aren't a problem.

Disasters are big problems. This is why I get my practical survival information from sources like Gun Digest. I focus my “prepping” time on things I'd actually use. Food. Water. Fire. Tools. It's like second-nature. I don't have to think about it.

Still, I have to wonder. If all I did was focus on zombies and ways to kill them, what would be my second-nature response in a disaster?

I'm rational enough to know the answer. Chances are, dear reader, you are, too. It wouldn't involve killing people. But what about the guy who isn't so level-headed? Who invested so much energy on a pop culture fad, only to see it come to life? That could seriously mess with a person's perception of reality.

Picture your typical zombie. Emaciated. Bleeding. Diseased. Now replace the word “zombie” with “disaster survivor.” Has the image in your head changed all that much? No.

Now tell me what Mr. Reality Perception Problem is going to do when the shock of a disaster hits. He's panicked. Confused. Disturbed by the gruesome sights around him. His fight or flight mechanism is kicking in. His logic is gone. And now he sees scores of “zombies.” He reverts to the one scenario he focused on before the disaster, and he acts on it.

Don't tell me this is impossible. People will do irrational things when confronted with death. It doesn't matter if it's disasters or shark attacks. Here's that link again about Jaws and shark populations. It only took one movie – one horror meme similar to the current zombie fad – to turn logic on its head. And sharks are still paying the price.

Now take the Jaws effect and juice it up with the CDC's blessing. It doesn't matter that the zombie survival guide PDF is tongue-in-cheek. If crowds of starving people fill the streets, I can guarantee you someone, somewhere will say, “Hey, this looks like a zombie apocalypse.” And someone, somewhere is going to act on it.

If I seem dramatic, substitute the generic word “disaster” with “bioterrorism.” Or try “chemical emergencies,” “radiation emergencies,” “earthquakes” and “mass casualty events.” Because those are exactly the events listed here the CDC hopes citizens will prepare for as a result of reading its zombie survival guide PDF. Deadly serious stuff. Isn't it patronizing to throw a zombie fad into the mix? It'd be no less disrespectful than if emaciated chemotherapy patients were depicted as zombies in a comic book about cancer awareness.

This zombie survival guide PDF isn't cute. It's not funny. Disasters are serious business. They don't need to be dressed up with zombie stories. However well-intentioned, the CDC's zombie survival guide PDF was at best irresponsible and at worst lethal.


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  1. Obviously, the zombie scenario is over the top, and most laugh it off, as i do. But one should try to put it in context and read between the lines. Everyday there is the risk of the CDC or private research lab screwing up and an agent is released into the atmosphere. It might kill slowly pr quickly. It might affect your organs or your mind. In any case, this govt is NOT prepared. There could be a scenario in which something harmful finds it’s way into our water, food, or air. after a series of interactions, the result could be quite deadly. There is a natural Electrical field in the atmosphere. Tesla knew about it, knew how to manipulate it in order to provide free electrical power to everyone anywhere. He also knew bad guys might militarize the technology so he stopped the work. Check out HAARP. The normal electrical field in the atmosphe is about 6 or 7 hertz. If lowered to about 4 it sedates humans. If raised to 7 or 8 hertz, it makes people nuts. What do people do then? The govt can’t control all 340,000,000 of us, the most heavily armed citizenry in the world, per capita. Most vets are combat vets. But by reducing the population, it can be done. Once the govt has control, next is gun confiscation. We all know what happens next. yeah, sounds crazy. I thought the Bay of Tonkin incident was crazy too…..

  2. I think the whole zombie thing is childish and immature. I wouldn’t buy or own anything that had the zombie nonsense on it. If you want to play in comic land leave the weapons at home.

  3. I agree with the comment “what about the guy who isn’t so level-headed? Who invested so much energy on a pop culture fad, only to see it come to life?” but I still don’t see how the CDC comic might lead one to the use of deadly force. Your concern is valid, just misplaced. You can’t figure what the less “level-headed” (nut cases?) might do in any situation. Any reasonable person will recognize that the whole “zombie pandemic” scenario in the comic is just a bad dream brought on by a bad movie (and maybe too much Thai food?). The only people in the comic with firearms are the military, and even they don’t shoot the zombies! If it catches someone’s eye and gets them thinking about assembling a “bugout” pack, I say more power to them. The real issue, as I said before, is the popularity of zombie-themed weapons, targets, accessories, action shoots, and chats.

  4. Thanks for your responses, guys. Shows what a thoughtful audience we have here at

    To boil this down, my concerns can be summed up like this:

    1) Disasters are serious and firearms are not toys. Molding them into a fictional scenario (zombies) does a disservice to the gravity of these things.

    2) Because of this blending of fiction and reality, a small number of people will become confused in a disaster scenario. People act irrationally when confronted with death. The Jaws movie is a good example.

    3) The CDC is in a position of authority. To put out a zombie survival guide is irresponsible because of 1) and 2).

    This article would’ve included a fourth point, but it didn’t quite fit. I’ll mention it here.

    4) If you used zombie-themed firearms or ammunition in a disaster situation (or any situation, really), how do you plan on defending yourself in court? Prosecutors already pounce on hollow-point rounds used in self-defense situations. Imagine how they’d frame your psychological state when zombie items are involve.

    • Sir, I submit that a person who can’t tell the difference between reality and fiction is the problem, not a bunch of words on a piece of paper. Do you really think this survival guide will turn a sane person into an insane person?

      If you want to argue that this is a perfect example of big government run-a-muck, then I’m with you. Why are they wasting our tax dollars on something like this?

      But, if I were to buy into your argument then I would have to start burning a lot of books and movies that blend fiction and reality for “everyone’s safety”. Don’t we already live in a big enough nanny-state without you trying to add to it?

      Trust your fellow law abiding gun owners, we aren’t as stupid as you are making out…

      • If this exact same comic had been published by Marvel, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. The line is when a government entity in a position of authority becomes involved. It’s not merely entertainment at that point.

        I trust most people to act rationally most of the time. But high-stress disasters change behaviors. It’s not that the unstable person will literally think “zombie” when they see a disaster survivor. It’s the way they react to disaster survivors in general. They’ll see them as figurative “zombies” who are less than human. Take away a person’s humanity, and you can justify anything. That’s a very real connection that doesn’t take a big logical leap.

        Your line in the sand might be different from mine. But I think we can both agree that disasters are serious business, and should be treated as such.

        • I don’t expect much from our government in a time of crisis. When seconds count, they will respond in weeks. Katrina was a lesson for all of us; the central planners are inept, and people dependent on the welfare state seem to be incapable of recognizing danger without a program and a lot of hand holding.

          I don’t think this issue is such a big deal, because I am impressed with the CDC even recognizing the need for preparedness in any form. Besides, a recent FEMA report states that after 10 days without food many Americans will resort to cannibalism. Sounds like the zombie survival guide is a pretty good idea.

          Disasters are a serious business, but humor can be used as an effective teaching tool. In the end I believe the “zombie survival guide” is a humorous teaching tool, nothing more.

        • Ten days! Wow, that’s not long at all. Shows why in the era of processed food, knowing how to prepare food for yourself is so important. And to have reserves set aside if SHTF.

          You wouldn’t happen to have a link to that FEMA report, would you? I’d be interested in reading more.

        • It was an interal FEMA report that was posted on WIKILeaks. I don’t remember if I saved a copy or not, if I can find it I’ll email it to you.

          You can check WIKILeaks, though the government was blocking access to their sites the last time I checked…

  5. Mr. Sobieck, are you really suggesting that people are going to shoot disaster survivors because they read this “zombie survival guide”? Sir, I think your rubber band is wound too tight.

    I find it hard to believe that a person could find this “issue” on their radar with all the real problems out there just waiting to be solved. A mind is a terrible thing to waste…

  6. I disagree. The article misses one key point – in the wake of a disaster, certain people may need killing! Zombies is a euphamism for “hungry brain dead shamblers with their arms outstretched moaning feed me”. Sound like the Hurricane Katrina looters? The bands of murderous thugs turned loose when the jails and mental wards were thrown open so the former inmates can flee the rising waters? The gang bangers acting out when the police were too busy looting to enforce the laws? It bears mention that New Orleans had to be taken back by Blackwater operatives… Zombies dont have to be dead to be zombies, they just have to be brainless and bent on consumption at all costs. If you are in your well prepared home, safe and sound – enjoying sattelite TV, airconditioning, and gooey blender drinks courtesty of the generator you wisely invested in – it doesnt matter if the mob of shambling wretches amassing outside are “the undead”, the unprepared, or the South Side Crips – its still going to start to look like Herschel Greene’s farm when they come to consume…

  7. Disagree 100% with the first three commentators.

    There’s an old maxim I learned in my high school JROTC rifle team: you will preform as you practice. And some people will most certainly be a bit out of it after a disaster strikes, I saw some of that after the May 22nd, 2011 Joplin, MO tornado hit and have heard of it in other more widespread disasters.

    Zombies to get people thinking about real world survival, as “out of the box” exercises—the military has also used a Girl Scout insurrection, i.e. adversaries they couldn’t physically harm without very bad PR consequences, plus troops unwilling to use too much force; again, to force out of the box thinking—sure. It’s a popular meme and will get more people to prepare.

    But to illustrate this with graphics is irresponsible and rather “ivory tower”. Reminds me of the fallout shelter designs inside the Beltway types drew up that would kill their occupants due to inadequate ventilation (too much heat; read _Nuclear War Survival Skills_ derived from real research at Oak Ridge for how to avoid this).

    • Sorry, Harold. I still don’t see anything in the CDC comic that would endanger anyone. On the other hand, I today received a catalog from a major shooting sports vendor that asked if I were ready for the “Zombie Apocalypse”. It featured many zombie-themed accessories, ammunition, and targets showing everyday people – pizza guy, butcher, shopaholic – even domestic animals as they might look as zombies.

  8. My problem is with the comment “He reverts to the one scenario he focused on before the disaster, and he acts on it.”
    I read the CDC’s comic and did not see how it might lead to violence towards victims of a disaster. I’d be more concerned about “…the one scenario he focused on before the disaster…” as in the countless chatroom discussions about the best weapons to use against zombies, the ads in gun magazines for “zombie killer” guns and accessories, etc. or the “zombie killer” shoots sponsored by various firearms and tactical light vendors.

  9. I agree, lighten up! Seriously, you think, people are actually expecting a real zombie apocalypse? My daughter and one of her friends came to see me recently. It was gun cleaning time and 3 or 4 were leaning against the wall. “Why do you have all those guns?” She was a bit concerned. I grinned. “Because of the coming zombie apocalypse.” It was a joke. Humorous. The levity lightened the situation. She grinned back. “I’ve never even held a gun before,” she said. “You wanna hold one?” She held an AR-15 and my daughter took a picture with her phone of her posing with the rifle. Now the rifle wasn’t so scary and neither was this guy with all the guns. A small step in education, helped by a little levity. It’s become my standard answer now when someone finds out I carry, or shoot, or own guns. “Why do you carry a gun?” I shrug, smile, “The zombie apocalypse. You never know when it’s going to start.” Even my non-gun friends get in on the act now. They nod sagely, “Yep. It’s coming. Any day now.” But it’s a joke and they know we’re just pulling their leg. Humor helps diffuse an irrational fear. At the same time, they get the idea that it’s an metaphor, and it kinda sinks in, I think. I’ve made my point with one light comment, without berating, lecturing or climbing on my soapbox, which doesn’t work anyway because nobody wants to hear that crap. And glassy eyed zealots who take things way more seriously than they should, that scares people. So lighten up, Francis, there aren’t any wild-eyed loonies out there waiting for the undead to rise. It’s an allegory, an we all know that. Oh, and there was a comment I read on a forum: If you’re prepared for your dead friends and neighbors to come to life and try to eat you, you’re prepared for anything. I’ll second that.

    • All hail for the STRIPES referance. This PDF is really a waste of time & money, I understand someone ment well by using pop culcure as a tool to get people involved but it really misses the mark. As far as it helping unstable gunners lose touch, I,m pretty sure the ones your thinking of don’t need any help. However, I find it intresting that the thing is aimed at what I think the community refers to as sheeple but who but that type would need this? Boils down to , it’s a start but how good of a start do you expect from a gov. Commitee?


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