2010-11-04 / Family

Mormons help neighbors prepare for emergencies

By Nancy Needham nancy@theacorn.com

GETTING PREPARED— Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, right, listens as Hal Hirsch with D.A.R.T. tells Jens and Denise Hedelundhow of Newbury Park how to shut off a water main during the Community Emergency Preparedness Expo at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Oct. 24. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers GETTING PREPARED— Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, right, listens as Hal Hirsch with D.A.R.T. tells Jens and Denise Hedelundhow of Newbury Park how to shut off a water main during the Community Emergency Preparedness Expo at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Oct. 24. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers Helping others and preparing for an emergency are two things held in high regard by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In the spirit of both, the Newbury Park stake organized a free emergency-preparedness expo Oct. 23 for members of the public.

Ventura County firefighters and sheriffs, the American Red Cross, Conejo Valley Unified School District and the county’s Department of Environmental Health joined with the church to help the community prepare for a disaster.

“(The prophet) and his predecessors have always counseled us to be prepared. We believe in selfreliance and, to the extent we are able, we are to reach out and help others,” said Garry Pace, president of the LDS Newbury Park stake, a group of wards that includes parts of Thousand Oaks, Oak Park, Westlake Village, Agoura and Newbury Park.

Morgan Everett, the emergency coordinator for his ward, or congregation, said church members wanted to encourage the public to be prepared for the unexpected. As emergency coordinator, it’s his responsibility to have his ward ready in case of a natural disaster.

“We don’t just look after our congregation. We care about all of our neighbors,” Everett said.

The post-disaster drills LDS members practice include checking on their neighbors to make sure they’re all right, he said.

Fire information officer Mike Wilson explained how to reduce the threat of wildfires by taking precautionary measures such as trimming trees away from houses.

Ventura County Search and Rescue East Valley member Steven Holden stressed the need for families to have a 72-hour kit to help them survive a catastrophe like an earthquake. The kit should include food, water and other items necessary for survival until help arrives.

“After a widespread disaster there will be chaos. If your phone works and you call 911, they won’t get to you for three or four days,” Holden said.

Steve Pellnitz, director of operations for the local Disaster Assistance Response Team, taught those attending the expo not to get in their doorways during an earthquake but to take the safer “triangle” approach by lying next to a substantial piece of furniture such as a couch or a bed.

If beams or other large parts of the house fall, they will be stopped by the furniture, leaving a triangleshaped pocket where a person would be safe.

Red Cross volunteer Jill Wiley encouraged passersby to “build a kit, make a plan and be informed.”

Conejo Valley Unified School District official Debbie Hanna assured parents that the district is prepared to keep children safe if a disaster happens while school is in session.

“We have fire drills. We have emergency supplies on each campus. Children will be safe and accounted for,” Hanna said.

United Blood Services, a regional nonprofit community blood center, asked attendees to donate blood.

“Blood doesn’t magically appear on hospital shelves. When your loved ones need it, you hope it’s there,” said Rene Michels, UBS staff member.

At the Ventura County Environmental Health booth, Newbury Park resident Karen Lindberg dropped by with her sons, Jack, 4, and Joey, 2.

“Can you live off the water in your swimming pool?” she asked.

Paolo Quinto, environmental health specialist, answered, “Do so at your own risk.”

Lindberg said she brought her boys to the expo because she was thinking about how her family needs to be more prepared and was hoping to get some ideas on how to accomplish that.

In workshops inside the church, attendees were told to write down their family’s medical needs, post emergency numbers by their phones and make sure they have well-stocked first-aid kits at home, at work and in their cars.

Matthew and Carrie-Lynn Busch brought their children, Carter, 7, Ella, 4, and Parker, 2, to the event.

“We learned it’s a good idea to add comfort items to our 72-hour kit. I’m going to put stuffed animals, games and candy along with what we have in our kit just for basic survival,” Carrie-Lynn Busch said.

Emergency response vehicles and demonstrations were on site. .

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