Don’t ask me why — because I have no idea how these ideas come to me — but I recently found myself looking at the website for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
After poking around, I have now decided that the CDC should really be called the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and All the Other Freaky Ways You Can Get Sick, Be Injured, Get Maimed, and/or Die because there are a lot of health hazards out there that never once occurred to me.
This is a fascinating website. One that I’m sure took a ton of time and man/woman hours to put together. Which means that someone was sitting around thinking of all the ways you can get sick, injured, or die and then researching all those ways and then writing about them. You have to wonder how many of them are steady as a rock and how many now flinch whenever they hear someone drop a mug of hot coffee in the employee lunch room.
The CDC website is wonderfully and thoroughly organized in such a way that you can research by categories, such as Injury, Violence, and Safety or Environmental Health. Then, once you figure out what kind of general thing you want to freak yourself out over, you can dig deeper into some truly specific accidents and illnesses. And there are some incredibly specific ways you can lose life or limb in this world of ours.
For example, there’s a page on how you can prevent chain saw injuries after disasters. Not just chain saw injuries, but those injuries that occur after a tree falls on your house during a hurricane. Luckily, while everyone else is wringing their hands and going all woe is me, there are tree branches poking holes in my mattress, the CDC has already figured everything out.
This reminds me, I need to see if there’s a CDC app that be downloaded to phones, because if I ever find myself in a post-disaster situation, such as millions of rodents spilling out of a New York City subway after the tunnels flood, I’m going to want to know if I should run away or try to climb as high as I can. Oh, who are we kidding? We all know I’m going to run around in little circles, wringing my hands, and saying, “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.” Articulate in crisis moments, I am not.
In another example of CDC foresight, it would never have occurred to me that dogs should be on my list of concerns after a disaster, but someone over there was way ahead of me. I was already wary of dogs, having been jumped on during runs more times than I can remember, but now I feel like I’m going to need a chair and a whip after the next hurricane.
Now I’m trying to imagine how a job interview at the CDC goes. After they read through your CV and verify your Ph.D. credentials, do they give you 60 seconds to imagine a bizarre disaster and how you would deal with it?
“Quick, Jen, tell us what you should do if a tractor-trailer offloads seven tons of coconuts on the road while you’re running by.”
“Run faster. I mean — pfft — duh.”
Getting back to the website: In the section that should be called Mother Nature Acting All Pissy you can read about a variety of natural disasters including everything you might possibly need to know about protecting yourself from a volcanic eruption. I went ahead and skipped this one, because while Virginia does get hurricanes and occasional earthquakes, I’m going to tell myself that volcanoes are totally off the table, lest I end up in the fetal position under my desk. There’s only so much disaster I can take.
So here’s what I want to know today: What kind of situation have you found yourself in that has probably been covered by the CDC’s website?