Are you prepared for the zombie apocalypse?

On Monday, Ali S. Khan's CDC Public Health Matters blog warned us to be prepared for the impending zombie apocalypse. "When it happens," wrote Kahn, "you'll be happy you read this."

As he explained, zombies originated in the voodoo traditions of Haiti and New Orleans. And while the term's meaning has changed slightly over the years, it refers to a human corpse mysteriously reanimated to serve the undead. Oh, and they like to eat brains. Just how cool is that?!?!?!

So, the point really is to be prepared for an emergency. You can get a full list from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/kit/disasters/, but Khan also offers a short list that includes:

water (1 gallon per person per day)

food (non-perishable items)

medications (prescription and non-prescription meds)

tools and supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio)

sanitation and hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels)

clothing and bedding (a change of clothes and blankets)

important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)

first aid supplies (supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations).

For the most part, these instructions are a result of the emergency situations that resulted in Japan in the wake of the earthquake and tsunamis. And the same precautions could save many lives elsewhere.

In Illinois where I live, just over a month ago, state legislators discussed how important emergency preparedness is. In light of the recent damage to nuclear power plants in Japan due to the tsunami, Senator Mike Jacobs, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, called a hearing to examine the preparedness of Illinois’ nuclear reactors in the wake of a natural disaster. "Unfortunately, it takes an event like this to remind us that we need to ensure our safety standards are in place so a similar event does not happen in Illinois," he said.

Illinois is the top nuclear power generating state and produces roughly 10% of the United States’ nuclear power. Six nuclear power plants currently exist in Illinois, and they provide almost 50% of the state’s electricity. Two of Illinois’ nuclear power plants have reactors that are similar to the ones hit in Japan.

While nuclear power and zombies might not exactly be where most maintenance professionals’ concerns lie, a good emergency preparedness plan can go a long way, no matter what the circumstances are. Discuss it with your team over lunch. But if anyone orders brains, you know you’re already too late.