While attention typically focuses on preparing for the Big One, the Midtown Emergency Preparedness Home Safety Faire will be about more than earthquakes, according to organizers Annette Glanckopf, Cynthia Tham and Kristen Van Fleet.
Fair-goers will be able to learn about everything from bicycle safety to home and animal safety, self-defense, neighborhood-block-preparedness and emergency training.
Twenty-two booths at El Carmelo Elementary School will offer everything from emergency-food tastings and solar-cooking demonstrations to emergency supplies. The Palo Alto Police Department will bring its SWAT vehicle. The afternoon event will include activities for children, including making emergency "comfort kits," coloring books and a possible scavenger hunt.
"We're going to get our city to be the most prepared city on the Peninsula," Glanckopf said.
There will be emergency-power demonstrations by Palo Alto Utilities and booths staffed by the American Red Cross Silicon Valley, Racing Hearts Automated External Defibrillators, Palo Alto Fire Department, Gunn High School's Movers and Shakers, and an emergency-communication group. United Studios of Self Defense will train people in basic self-defense.
Many people don't have basic knowledge about what to do in an emergency — and what not to do, Van Fleet said.
"People don't know that to strike a match if there is an open gas line can be really bad," she said.
Van Fleet, who has organized a raffle of a Trek bike for the fair, said she wants to spread information to bicyclists and drivers about safety. While Palo Alto schools have bike-safety programs, that message often is not getting out to their parents, she said.
"I got really tired of seeing adults not use hand signals," she said.
And many drivers don't understand the rules of the road regarding two-wheeled travelers.
The fair is also a way to reach out to neighbors and to build trust, Van Fleet said. Many of her neighbors are new and from other countries. They don't know how things work in the event of an emergency, and they don't have a place for their kids to go if they become separated.
Although Van Fleet has reached out through her role as a block-preparedness coordinator, the response has been mixed. The fair is one way to "keep having the conversation — so they can trust that there are people in the neighborhood they can go to," she said.
Glanckopf, who is co-chair of Palo Alto Neighborhoods (PAN) emergency preparedness committee and heads Midtown's emergency-preparedness program, has long stressed that people and neighborhoods that are best prepared will have the greatest chances of surviving when emergency personnel are tied up handling larger problems such as a major fire, explosion or collapsed building.
The city's Office of Emergency Services has actively promoted programs that integrate the city's response and communications systems with neighborhood responders such as the Block Preparedness Coordinator Program and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) teams, according to Kenneth Dueker, city director of emergency services. Both will be represented at the fair, Glanckopf said.
The fair is being funded in part by a City of Palo Alto "Know Your Neighbors" grant. Local businesses have also donated funds and prizes.
The Midtown fair precedes Quakeville, the city's community annual disaster drill, which will take place Sept. 21.
What: Emergency Preparedness and Home Safety Faire
Where: El Carmelo Elementary School, Multipurpose Room, 3024 Bryant St., Palo Alto
When: Sunday, Sept. 8, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Cost: Free, but donations to offset costs are accepted