Preparing for Emergencies

Preparing for Emergencies

Preparing for Emergencies is 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.

Although no more booklets have been produced, the website is still updated, with advice on possible bird flu epidemics and the 7 July 2005 London bombings.

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