Preparing for Emergencies
Preparing for Emergencies was a public information scheme, produced by the Home Office, a department of the United Kingdom Government, advising British citizens on what to do in the event of a natural disaster, accident or terrorism. The scheme was started on 26 July 2004 in the wake of several major disasters including the 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings, SARS and the 2001 UK foot and mouth crisis, in the form of a 22-page booklet which covered topics such as transport accidents, health, foot and mouth disease, terrorism and fire safety.
The booklet received some criticism comparing it to Protect and Survive, a 1980s Public Information Film that instructed people on how to remain safe from nuclear war. Some sections of the media also accused the Government of "scaremongering", although information was provided on topics other than terrorism.
Soon after the website accompanying the booklet was launched, a spoof website appeared, www.preparingforemergencies.co.uk, said to be from "HM Department of Vague Paranoia"; it parodied the seemingly obvious advice given by the booklets, and gave such advice as: "Alien Invasion: Negotiate using sign language, if possible. Failing that, and assuming they aren't armed with futuristic ray guns, run like hell." The Home Office initially objected to the website, stating that the URL was too similar to that of their own website, www.preparingforemergencies.gov.uk, and threatened to close the website down. However, after a link to the official website was added, the Home Office conceded the issue, and allowed the site to remain online.
Following this, no more booklets have been produced, with the website being updated, with advice on possible bird flu epidemics and the 7 July 2005 London bombings. In 2011/12 the website was permanently closed.
- Protect and Survive
- Ready.gov, the United States Department of Homeland Security version of same. Note that it was also parodied by giving alternate interpretations for various images.
- Terror advice pamphlet unveiled, BBC News, 2004
- Also, the spoof site references the Simon Pegg and Nick Frost film Shaun of the Dead, by saying "The assailants can be stopped by removing the head or destroying the brain. Suitable tools you may find in your shed include shovels, cricket bats, and similar items." Spoof website will stay online, BBC News, 2004