Will You Organize a Preparedness Fair This Year? Aim for Hands on, Enjoyable Activities Instead of Giving a Bunch of Information Download. You’ll Find Tons of Ideas in This Post.
As August creeps in on us, the temperatures inch upward and school supplies start taking over the stores. With September and National Preparedness Month looming close, I’ve noticed a flood of invitations and announcements for emergency preparedness fairs. Whoever thought of putting that in the same month associated with going back to school had a special sense of humor.
Now, we have frequented MANY Preparedness Fairs over the years, in fact, it’s where PreparednessMama was sort of born. If you haven’t been to one, make this year your first, it’s worth it! You’ll receive information, meet neighbors, learn about local resources, and even meet your local first responders. It’s a great way to set your foot into the door of personal preparedness or sharpen some skills.
However, preparedness fairs can be quite intimidating for newbies and even some veterans. Let’s face it, they can have a tendency towards doom and gloom sometimes. But, you know that’s not what PreparednessMama is about. When my local church asked if I would put together a Preparedness Fair I jumped at the chance. And since I’m probably not the only one who is doing this, I wanted to share the process and plans for you to have a successful local fair.
Introducing the Provident Living Circus
That doesn’t sound like a preparedness fair, does it? Which is actually the point. Most newbies have their blood pressure rise at the words “Emergency Preparedness” so consider changing the name. IT’S A TRAP! The fair really is about preparedness but this is a more comfortable title for those freaked out by preparedness. Let’s face it most of the people interested in a preparedness fair are already pretty prepared, so your goal may be to help those who are frightened and overwhelmed feel comfortable enough to start actually getting prepared.
Provident Living principles and lifestyles are really the embodiment of emergency preparedness. It’s the real goal. And yes, we actually used a circus theme for the event! Check your local schools to see if they have cotton candy and popcorn machines that can be borrowed if you are inclined to go that far.
Set Goals for the Fair
It’s important to know what you would like to accomplish for the evening. These are the three main goals that we wanted people to walk away with.
- Take away fear and make the topic fun and memorable (hence the circus theme).
- Make the event family oriented so whole family groups can participate in age appropriate activities.
- Give people a place to start their preparedness journey and move forward.
After the Event Participants Should Leave With
Create a list of skills that participants will accomplish during the evening. They are more likely to continue to follow through if they already have some of the hard parts started or completed.
- A completed fire escape plan
- A home safety scavenger hunt
- A list for emergency kits
- A plan for food storage
- Knowledge of available church and community resources to support self-reliance
- Skills to explore and hopefully a desire to master them
- Know their neighborhood emergency zone for communications
When and Where to Hold the Event
Most churches have large open spaces that would be perfect venues for a fair, plus they have a steady, built in audience to spread the word. Other places to consider include: a community center, local library, city hall, police or fire stations, and neighborhood schools are equally great to work. Be sure to inquire about a rental fee.
September is National Preparedness Month so it seems like a given to do a fair in September, but October would a great time for a Zombie Apocalypse theme event as well. Most people are more afraid of clowns than zombies it seems. Really, any time of the year is a great time for planning a preparedness fair, so don’t let that deter you!
Delegating Responsibilities for the Event
No one person can put on the whole event by themselves, and it may be easier to organize the event with friends or church members. If you are going it on your own, you will need to find people locally, and network with them to create committees. This may be the only way to get the event up and running. Hopefully, as you go through the listed areas of focus, names will come to you. As you work with them, more people who are interested in participating will show up for you. It’s really a “build it and they will come” type process.
If you have time, you could spend September going to a few fairs and rounding up people from the presenters and booths. Most are used to doing this and teaching their area of expertise and are already prepared with games or a booth idea. If you’re LDS, like I am, then the following format will be all you need to do. But always trust your gut, if a name comes to mind for a specific task, trust it.
Disaster Education for Children
You will want to set up fun things for young children to do. Use older children and teens to help with these booths. This can also pass off an item for Faith In God (an LDS recognition award), Boy Scout, or Girl Scout badges.
- Set up coloring and games stations
- Have story time for small children
- Show Bill Nye or other weather videos, which can be borrowed from most libraries and schools
- Make a fun family disaster obstacle course
Preparedness Activities for Young Men or Local Scout Troops
Scouts can complete some requirements for the emergency preparedness merit badge or gain service hours by participating and teaching.
- Choose scouting merit badges that foster preparedness. Have boys teach some skills from them (those who have earned them) and have a list with merit badge counselor names so the boys can complete them later.
- Demonstrate a camping set up and create an “emergency camp”
- Wilderness survival demos
- Make a first aid challenge. Families draw a card with an incident or injury and have to perform the proper first aid procedure. A scout or facilitator determines if they met the challenge and/or gives support if they aren’t meeting it. This way they are learning and practicing actually skills, not just getting a flyer about what to do.
Young Women or Teen Youth Group
Those needing projects for service this may take on one of these classes.
- Survival family photo booth – think zombie apocalypse photo booth minus the zombies. Try a “We survived!” theme with a funny memory to lean on in tough times. Remember the goal is fun not scary!
- Making an emergency plan station. Make copies for each family to fill out and have a person to help guide them through making a Fire Escape Plan and starting a wider disaster plan.
- Demonstrate water purification methods and play the “do you dare drink it” game (obviously, make sure it is safe before letting others try it). Use the boiling water method and different types of filters, both commercial and DIY. Teach or have information on how much water is needed per a person per a day and help each family calculate their needs for 3 days, 2 weeks, and one month.
- Talk about hygiene during an emergency, make a hygiene kit and bathroom display
Relief Society, Women’s Group, or Local Extension Agency
Do you know someone that has these special skills and would like to share? Many Master Gardeners or Master Preservers need community hours to complete their service requirements.
- Have a food preservation demo and provide samples
- Have a gardening booth. Ask an expert or Master Gardener to man it. Be sure this person is local and can answer questions specific to the microclimates in your community.
- Teach about food storage and provident living. You’ll need guides and a computer with a printer so they can use a food storage calculator and break it down into weekly o monthly purchases. Also, have a guide that can walk families through food storage planning using the Core Meal Method. Determine a week’s worth of meals your family will eat, and you can cook, and build your plan up from that to determine the yearly storage need. Then break that down into a weekly or monthly purchase guide. Call your guides “consultants.” We called this the “man eating elephant booth” (you know…one bite at a time).
Men’s Organization, local Rotary club, American Legion, or some other local Lodge
- Set up an outdoor cooking area and teach methods for cooking without power. Give a demo, samples, and recipes. Most men love BBQing and Dutch oven cooking and showing off their skills.
- Shake things up by placing deer, elk, bison, goat, or buffalo on the menu (think what you’d eat in survival situations), some local hunting enthusiasts should be able to help out, just be sure to check regulations first.
- Have home safety demonstrations and teach how to secure water heaters and shelves before an earthquake, how to shut off the gas, water, and electricity at home. A local handyman may be willing to do this for some free advertising.
- Make a gallery of techniques for hunting or snaring small game, and foraging for local edible plants.
- Have a booth of different kinds of kits and supplies on display with and hand out lists.
- Emergency and 72-hour kits in multiple forms
- Car kits
- First aid kits – conventional and homemade herbal remedies.
- Radios and communications (be sure to keep this simple). A local HAM radio group or other radio enthusiasts group can do this one. Have a few radios to showcase, a list of what to look for in purchasing a radio, basic how to use one, and local groups to contact for certification or training, and contacts.
- Have a booth on the self-reliance classes that each LDS stake is offering, and help people choose which to participate in. These free groups are open to non-members and members alike.
If you want a wider community event
The Fire department could maybe run the first aid challenge or let kids explore trucks and such. They can demonstrate fire prevention tips and how to use and fire extinguisher.
Ask local CERT members to promote their next round of training, along with the radio operators group.
Ask the city or Local water supplier if they can donate water bottles for water storage to give out.
Ask the local police station to set up a child ID booth as well as a meet the hero booth where kids can meet the officers, see their cars, and if applicable meet the K9 hero too.
Invite a mobile vet or pet chip unit to come and teach pet first aid.
Some sport and outdoor companies will do classes (possibly not free) to teach particular skills. Our local National Guard Youth and Family Group was able to get REI to put on a zombie apocalypse workshop for the teenagers this year.
Emergency Essentials has free information and brochures for events. Ask your local Disaster Management Agencies to participate.
Now obviously this is A TON of stuff! Remember, you can pick and choose what works for your community, budget, and time. I would recommend aiming from at least one from each section for a well-rounded approach to preparedness. Remember to aim for hands on and enjoyable activities instead of giving them a bunch of information download.
The best part about not doing everything is that next year, there is still plenty you can do or add, and your community will be even more prepared and receptive next year.
Preparedness Mama and its collaborators have created a one-stop shop of critical resources for families looking to prepare for disaster. We know firsthand that getting ready for the worst with a big family poses some particular challenges.
We’ve learned from the past so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes again. Fear of the unknown is one of the scariest things in life, but we hope that Preparedness Mama’s treasure trove of practical advice will make that unknown less daunting and ultimately help take the scared out of being prepared for every single one of our readers.
Love your thoughts. I am putting together a fair in October and out theme is “A game of survival” each ward is a team. They will have bandanas in their colors. There will be six stations for them to complete as a family. At each station they earn points for their ward. The win ing ward will receive something yet to be determined. Stations will be similar to your ideas like an obstacle disaster course , a first aid challenge and so on I totally agree it needs to be fun and challenging. Thanks for the post nd Ideas.
Best of luck with your fair, let us know how it goes!