BERKELEY -- Should a disaster strike, city officials want to be certain residents will be prepared, educated on what to do and have the resources and training to be emergency-ready.
To that end, the city, the Berkeley Fire Department and its Community Emergency Response Team program are holding an Emergency Preparedness Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 26 at the North Berkeley BART Station.
This free family-oriented community event is targeted toward using fun activities, on-site trainings, interactive demonstrations, and tips and information to help parents keep children safe, for pet owners to do the same for their animals, and for each individual to work toward having the skills and resources to prepare for an emergency disaster.
Gradiva Couzin, a community member of the BFD's CERT program, has participated in disaster preparedness training and experienced what CERT has done in establishing neighborhood groups all over Berkeley.
"In organizing this fair, our primary goal is to empower our community, to bring more people into the preparedness circle and to get them ready for a disaster, such as an earthquake," she said. "This fair is really intended for anyone who's at square one, someone who knows they should be prepared but doesn't know where to start."
Despite the seriousness of the fair's intent, the event is designed to be fun, full of activities suitable for a family outing and providing both entertainment and exposure for kids. In Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb's thinking, that's a step in the right direction.
"As far as the fire department goes, we've found that as with fire prevention, if we start educating children while they're still young and in school, as they become adults they're aware of safety measures to avoid fires," Webb said. "So we'd like to have our community start learning at an early age how to manage themselves in a disaster."
There will be a children's area with interactive activities such as drawing, crafts and library story time, safety and earthquake science and a family quiz show game with prizes.
For adults there will be first aid training, fire extinguisher use and training, survival demonstrations and 30-minute sessions on specific disaster aid training that include controlling bleeding, splinting broken bones, and dealing with airway obstructions. Alternating sessions will be presented in English and Spanish.
The BFD will have engines to explore and personnel to answer questions about the department's role in emergencies.
A third aspect of the fair will be geared to pet owners.
The American Red Cross will demonstrate first aid for pets; Berkeley Animal Care Services will have a dog licensing station; the Berkeley Humane Society will offer hands-on animal safety demonstrations; an area will be set up to practice making leashes and dog and cat carriers; and a booth will be set up for attendees to pick up coupons and information on low-cost vaccinations.
"Our goal is to get pet owners thinking about how to meet their pets' needs in the event of an emergency. All pets need food and water, and many also need medication, so we want to make sure pet owners have enough of those supplies on hand," said Emily Colwell, Berkeley Animal Care Services volunteer. "Pets often get lost or disoriented in a disaster, so they need id tags and/or a microchip to help reunite them with their families."
On top of all this, the fair will have food trucks, an American Red Cross blood drive, live music and some 30 different booths offering information, activities and emergency preparedness supplies.
"I really pushed for the vendors because a lot of people don't have time to put into being prepared. This way they can go to one place to learn and purchase a fire extinguisher, flashlight, things that help toward being emergency prepared," Couzin said.
The fair is supported by several community partners and agencies, demonstrating the interaction and cooperation needed in emergencies.
"Our goal is that people recognize that they're not helpless; that they can prepare for an emergency and be ready before it happens; that there are opportunities for them to get supplies, to learn about those supplies and to learn some vital skills that will enable them to help themselves and their neighbors and make our entire community much safer overall," Webb said. "With all of us working together who knows what we can accomplish."
Emergency Preparedness Fair is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 26 at the North Berkeley BART Station, 1750 Sacramento St. at Virginia Street. Free. Pet owners are being asked to not bring their pets to the fair. Details: www.CityofBerkeley.info/PrepFair.