photo via the Center for Disease Control

As December 21, 2012 approaches, many people may be asking themselves “how will I survive the zombie apocalypse?”

Well, the government may have the answers.

With Halloween around the corner, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is encouraging natural disaster preparedness groups to latch on to a zombie-themed message to get the attention of the masses while simultaneously injecting their brains with relevant survival information.

“Zombie Preparedness messages and activities have proven to be an effective way to engage new audiences, particularly young people who may not be familiar with what to do before, during or after a disaster,” said FEMA’s Danta Randazzo during a monthly webinar on Thursday. “[It’s] also a great way grab attention and increase awareness about emergency preparedness.”

Hundreds of personnel tuned in to a webinar called “Zombie Awareness: Effective Practices in Promoting Disaster Preparedness,” a public discussion about integrating pop culture references into emergency readiness campaigns to get a younger audience interested in serious issues and life-or-death situations like what you should do in case of a natural disaster.

FEMA took cues from the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, who in May put together “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse” to pique readers’ interests.

“The campaign generated an enormous amount of publicity at a very low cost,” said Randazzo.

The CDC’s zombie survival guide followed a Twitter call out asking what people were prepared for. A lot of people told them they were ready for a zombie attack, which got them thinking about a new general preparedness message.

“We had to do something that wasn’t going to take a lot of man power or hours,” said Maggie Silver from the CDC.  “We thought, why not give people what they want.”

And the people wanted zombies.

The “online kit” of tips and tricks to survive an encounter with the walking dead paralleled what one might do in a situation—say—like an earthquake or hurricane.

Using a “tongue-in-cheek” blog post, they wrote on their website “if you are prepared for a zombie apocalypse, you’re prepared for any emergency.”

By working in the zombie-theme, the CDC grabbed the attention of their target audience, and those obsessed with the possibility of an undead takeover.

Within 10 minutes of the information going out on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, the CDC’s site crashed, they said.

The campaign was widely received and readers online turned a serious conversation into one about a faux-apocalypse.

“Not only were people coming to read about zombies…they were being taken to our general message, which was the ultimate goal for this,” said Silver. “You pull them in with the zombies and then they stay to check out your content.”

Are you prepared for an attack?