WASHINGTON TERRACE -- When disaster strikes, will you be a problem or part of the solution?
Washington Terrace officials are hoping you'll be part of the solution.
With more than 9,000 residents and about 20 city workers and a part-time volunteer fire department, people need to be as self-sufficient as possible.
"Personal preparedness is key," said Washington Terrace City Manager Tom Hanson. "We're going to be out there helping everyone we can, but we need people to be actively involved in their own neighborhoods and homes."
The city held an emergency preparedness fair Tuesday night to try to get their message across to the public.
"We chose Sept. 11 because it obviously coincides with the catastrophe of 9/11, and we wanted to have a meaningful date for a meaningful event," Hanson said.
In addition to providing several booths with emergency information, city officials encouraged people to sign a pledge. The Pledge to Prepare is a commitment that shows people are willing to do what it takes to prepare for a disaster, whether it be a power outage, mass casualty, chemical threat, terrorist attack or an earthquake.
"People need to make sure they have a 72-hour kit, plenty of water, food and a family emergency plan drawn up," Hanson said. "Write up the plan and put (copies) in places around the house where they can be found. The plan should include phone numbers, emergency contacts and an out-of-state contact as well."
Pets should be included in the emergency plan, Hanson said, and everyone should have emergency items in the work place as well as the trunk of their car.
"If we have a disaster and you're wearing high heels, it's going to be a long, painful walk back to the house," he said. "But if you have some comfortable clothes and shoes in the trunk, you can quickly change and make the hike home."
Hanson also said residents are encouraged to be Community Emergency Response Team-trained so they can assess their neighborhoods and assign block captains and other leaders in the event of an emergency. People should know who might need the most help in their neighborhood, which would include the elderly, handicapped and families of emergency response and health care workers.
The preparedness fair included demonstrations of a car extraction, fire extinguishing and how to put together a 72-hour kit; first aid kits provided by Allied Waste; the mobile command unit; and the county shelter trailer.
Questar operations representative Rod Turner said in the event of a natural disaster, there are four main reasons you should turn off your gas: If you smell gas or hear gas leaking, if you have structural damage or someone in authority tells you to turn it off.
Most gas meters are on the opposite end of the carport, in a corner nearest to the street. To turn it off, use a wrench and make one quarter turn.
In some circumstances, however, it is safe to leave the gas on, and if you turn it off if it isn't necessary, it could be weeks before you get it turned back on.
In addition, the water heater should be secured to the wall of the home so it doesn't tip over, causing more damage and causing you to lose 50 gallons of viable water.
Firefighter Michael Payne demonstrated how to use a fire extinguisher. He said each home should have one extinguisher on every level.
When using an extinguisher, remember the acronym PASS. P stands for pull the pin, A stands for aim, S stands for squeeze the trigger and S stands for sweep from side to side. Always stand 10 feet away from the fire and aim from the bottom up.
September is National Emergency Preparedness Month, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The goal is to educate the public about how to prepare for an emergency.