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Health department hosts ‘zombie’ event

September 9, 2018
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The Cabell-Huntington Health Department's "Zombie Apocalypse Threat Preparedness Fair" takes place on Saturday at New Baptist Church in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — September is National Preparedness Month and the three steps are: “Get a kit, make a plan and be informed.”

And don’t forget to have some fun spreading the message.

In its third year of hosting multi-agency preparedness and health fairs, the Cabell-Huntington Health Department put a Halloween-like twist onto their annual event by hosting a “Zombie Apocalypse Threat Preparedness Fair” indoors and in the parking lot of New Baptist Church.

By 1:30 p.m. Saturday, more than 200 people had been through the fair, and organizers were hoping to get about 300 for the entire afternoon.

Jodi Johnson, who was one of the organizers with Jacqueline Johnson, thought it would be fun to play off the zombie theme to help reach more people and inform them of the array of real threats, from storm and disaster preparedness to health and safety issues.

“It is all about threat preparedness and showing the community how to be prepared and what you should do,” Jodi Johnson said. “But we also wanted to make it kind of fun with the kids. That is why we created the zombie bags.”

To fill those bags, folks were handed an empty bag at the beginning as well as a Zombie Survival Map that listed all the booths at the event. At the booths, each agency handed out different preparedness items such as flashlights, smoke detectors, hand sanitizer, firstaid kits, emergency blankets and wristbands with mosquito repellent.

At other booths folks could do everything from get flu and hepatitis A vaccines to get fingerprinted by Kyle Quinn of the Huntington Police Department’s Forensic Investigations Unit.

Personnel at the nearly 30 booths signed off on the map and visitors could turn in the map to win an array of larger prizes.

Johnson said with a theme of “If We Can Survive Zombies, We Can Survive Any Disaster!” the fair hopes to make everyone a little more ready for any real disasters that can happen, whether it be a flood, power outage or health-related issues.

“Don’t ever say it can’t happen to you,” Johnson said of disasters. “It just takes a few minutes walking through here to grab some essential things to help you with those what ifs.”

Luckily for fair-goers, no real zombies showed up, only fans of “The Walking Dead” in their fan T-shirts, and only the cutest of zombies — 5-year-old Danica Reynolds, of Huntington, who was in character in her makeup and zombie-like growl.

“She loves Halloween, and when I saw something about this I knew it would be something fun to do,” said Danica’s mom, Leah Saxton, 35.

In the parking lot, about a half-dozen agencies were set up, including pet adoptions, the Cabell County EMS, St. Mary’s Medical Center and the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program offering car seat safety checks, as well as the Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Preparedness mobile unit manned by father and son volunteers Tim and Jake Merritt, who were handing out free hot dogs and water.

Lt. Liz Blusiewicz is the commanding officer of Huntington’s Salvation Army. She said they were excited to be a part of the bigger event that was planned out of the cooperation that has taken place during the local Homeland Security meetings at the Tri-State Fire Academy with multiple agencies.

“They requested us to come out because they know on disasters when we are serving, our specialty is food,” Blusiewicz said. “In the field when a disaster hits, we are the people who are there making sure the National Guard, the EMS, the firefighters and whoever is responding to that disaster is being fed. Because a lot of times these first responders are so worried about helping everyone else there is no one to take care of them, and that is where the Salvation Army kind of steps in to make sure our first responders are taken care of, and the general public. One thing we do well in the Salvation Army is food.”

BE PREPARED

September is National Preparedness Month, the perfect time to get your household ready for an emergency. The American Red Cross West Virginia region encourages everyone to make sure they are prepared for a disaster and not wait until an emergency occurs and it’s too late.

Getting prepared is easier than it sounds. There are three basic steps:

• Get a kit.

Pack the following items in an easy-to-carry container — a gallon of water per person, per day; nonperishable food; flashlight and hand-crank or battery-powered radio; extra batteries; sanitation and personal hygiene items; copies of important papers; extra cash; and any medical or baby supplies family members might need.

• Make a plan.

Have all members of your household help devise your emergency plan. Consider what emergencies could happen where you live; what to do if you are separated; and how you will let loved ones know you are safe.

• Be informed.

Learn what disasters are common to your area. Find out how local authorities will let you know an emergency is happening. Make sure at least one household member is trained in first aid and CPR in case help is delayed during a disaster.

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