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Fires, storms focus of emergency preparedness fair

A wildfire continues to burn on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge near Cascade Locks, Ore., and the Bridge of the Gods, late Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. There will be an emergency preparedness fair in downtown Bellingham on Sunday, Sept. 10.
A wildfire continues to burn on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge near Cascade Locks, Ore., and the Bridge of the Gods, late Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. There will be an emergency preparedness fair in downtown Bellingham on Sunday, Sept. 10. AP

Recent natural disasters and U.S. saber-rattling with a nuclear-armed North Korea lend an air of immediacy to this weekend’s Gear Up! emergency preparedness fair downtown.

“Preparedness isn’t just preparation and planning just in case of a nuclear blast,” said Paul Gazdik, manager of Bellingham’s Emergency Management Department. “It’s more about understanding how you can prepare for a natural disaster.”

He said among other information, visitors can learn about what Gazdik called “soft skills” that could be essential in an emergency – how to shut off the gas to your house, how to cook outside, and simple first aid.

The fair is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave.

“Hospitals will be inundated,” as will emergency services such as police and fire departments, Gazdik said.

He said recent natural disasters – including wildfires and hurricane – have prompted many people to consider the topic of emergency preparedness.

“It’s been a interesting marketing tool,” he said. “There’s evidence of why we should be prepared right outside our windows and on the news. It’s a constant reminder.”

Participating organizations include Bellingham Fire Department, Bellingham Police Department, Whatcom County Community Emergency Response Team, Whatcom Emergency Communications Group, Whatcom Humane Society, Bellingham Boy Scouts, and local outdoor equipment suppliers.

Bellingham Fire will have either an engine for visitors to tour, or the Fire Safety House, where kids and parents can practice fleeing a simulated fire, Gazdik said.

For information, call 360-731-4275 or gearupbellingham@gmail.com.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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