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West Valley City Journal

Preparedness Fair Proves Instructive, Helpful for Families

Jun 16, 2016 08:25AM ● By Bryan Scott

Emergency vehicles were on display as various groups came together at the fair to provide all sorts of safety information. – Travis Barton

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

In lieu of earthquakes hitting both Japan and Ecuador this year, the importance of being prepared for natural disaster emergencies took on more importance. 

Preparation and information were the key words at the Valley Fair Mall on April 15-16 during West Valley City Fire Department Family Preparedness Fair where free family fun was provided as well as information for fire safety, home safety, neighborhood watch and emergency preparedness. 

“In an emergency disaster, no agency will be able to respond to everyone’s needs,” Joe White, a West Valley City Fire Department Battalion Chief, said. 

 The fair was sponsored by WVCFD and put on by West Valley City’s Neighborhood Services for the second consecutive year. West Valley City Fire Chief John Evans approached Neighborhood Services last year about wanting to start a fire safety fair and the idea grew from there. 

Craig Thomas, Neighborhood Services Director, said these fairs are great because it gives them a chance to affect immeasurable numbers of families. 

“If one family comes out or if one family learns how to be safer in their home, it’s a success,” Thomas said. 

Among the fair’s participants included the Utah Safety Council, Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), Jordan Valley Medical Center, American Red Cross, Costco, West Valley City Amateur Radio Communications and Intermountain Donor Services. 

“Luckily it’s not that hard to get community partners to come out to these events, the city has a lot of great groups that work with us,” Thomas said. 

Resources were provided to people passing by like how to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. 

“Especially with the earthquakes in Japan, it kind of re-alerts us to the fact that this could happen here,” White said. 

With the Wasatch Fault running down the middle of the state, White said the state’s coined the phrase “not if, but when.” 

“We don’t know when those things are going to happen, so we need to be prepared always,” White said. 

Educating adults and kids assists in the fire departments efforts to rescue people like when someone is trapped on the second floor to throw clothes and bed sheets out the window to signal where firefighters need to go. 

WVCFD brought an inflatable house with a kitchen area, living room area and bedroom. Children could walk through as fire crews taught them about exit drills in the home (EDITH) which included an area where they could dive through a window. 

“If kids can gain knowledge through fun things, it seems to stick a bit more,” White said. 

It’s important, White said, for families to prepare and practice escape plans within the home and designating places for the family to meet outside or, in short, to develop their EDITH.  

“The most important thing though, is to make sure the smoke detectors are working because smoking detectors do save lives,” White said. “That’s your early warning sign that there’s something wrong and to get out of the house.” 

“It’s really important for families to learn these things, we get so busy in our daily lives that we start forgetting about those things,” Thomas said. 

How to prepare for fires and natural disasters weren’t the only emergencies being discussed. 

Jordan Valley Medical Center had representatives talking with people about health and nutrition providing facts on fast food consumption. 

With April as Child Abuse Prevention month, BACA was there to spread awareness about what they offer. 

“The whole purpose is go out and empower kids who have been abused, we want them to not feel afraid of the world they live in anymore so little events like this are the best way to come spread the word,” Patrick Staker, BACA member, said. 

Members present from the BACA association were on hand to extend awareness and friendships to families and their children offering the kids fake tattoos and candy. 

“What better payment can you get for doing anything than to spend your Saturday seeing a kid smile at you,” Staker said.