Event coordinator Paula Mueller runs a booth at the first Queen Anne Urban Survival Skills Fair on Saturday, Nov. 9.
Event coordinator Paula Mueller runs a booth at the first Queen Anne Urban Survival Skills Fair on Saturday, Nov. 9.

With a major earthquake on the horizon, the Queen Anne Block Watch Captains Network put on its first Urban Survival Skills Fair, to help the community prepare for any kind of natural disaster or emergency, at the Queen Anne Community Center on Saturday, Nov. 9.

“I think everybody knows that we are subject to severe earthquakes,” said event coordinator Paula Mueller. “We have been lucky enough not to have any in the recent history, but we also know one may come. And there are other disasters that we might not anticipate and are maybe not so severe, but certainly could happen. Like, the big snowstorm last winter — it wasn’t a major disaster, but it did cause inconvenience.”

If Seattle experienced an earthquake like those that have occurred in Alaska or California, Mueller said power could go out and gas could be scarce for days, weeks or even months. Fires could follow an earthquake, and the damage to the city’s infrastructure could hamper the ability of emergency workers to reach everyone in a timely manner.

“So, the reality is that you, as an individual, and a household, and a neighborhood, will really need to be able to rely upon each other,” Mueller said. “So, that means first aid, it means, perhaps, even search and rescue for neighbors, pets that have been injured or gone missing.”

She said grocery stores may be inaccessible, so it is a good idea to have nonperishable food and water stores in every residence.

The Urban Survival Skills Fair served two major purposes, Mueller said. The first was to inform people of the kinds of things that could happen to them if disaster struck, and the second was how to deal with those things when they happen.

Fair volunteer Ann Forrest said that it not only helped to create safer neighborhoods, but it brought them together.

“It builds neighbors,” she said. “It builds community, because folks are talking amongst themselves. We’re passing on information they are going to need after an earthquake. You can’t learn everything you need to know at one of these fairs, but it’s a great sampler of all the things to think about.”

One major feature of the Urban Survival Skills Fair was a booth on how to create emergency toilets out of 10-gallon buckets. Volunteers gave out the components needed for building the toilets to the first 200 participants who wanted them.

The toilets are simple, and materials can be purchased at any hardware store. First, label one bucket for pee and the other for poop. All liquid waste should go in the “pee bucket.” For liquid waste, add water to the bucket to dilute it if possible, then dispose of the waste by pouring it outdoors.

Toilet paper should go in the “poop bucket.”

For fecal waste, line the “poop bucket” with a heavy-duty, 13-gallon garbage bag. When finished using the bucket, be sure to cover any waste with something like bark chips or cat litter. Be sure to only fill the bucket about halfway.

When disposing of the water, double bag the contents of the “poop bucket” and separate it from the other garbage in the residence, away from food and water. Also, be sure it is inaccessible to pets, flies, rats or other pests.

Visit EmergencyToilet.org for more information on how to stock and use emergency toilets.

The fair also gave tips on how to access more water in the home, such as by making use of the unused water in a standard hot-water heater.

“So, we have some people who talk about… where to get water in your house — if you have a standard water heater, that’s 50 or 55 gallons of water,” Mueller said.

Survival fairgoers were also encouraged to create go-bags that include first aid kits, food, water and emergency sleeping bags. Kids could have go-bags stored at school and at home, to help them stay safe if they are separated from their guardians, and those adults could have go-bags at work and home.

Participant Bruce Wilson said he had thought of stocking his beach house with go-bags and other disaster relief items in case of a tsunami, but hadn’t really thought about doing the same for his home in Queen Anne, so the fair helped him realize that. Wilson said the fair was a great way to build community.

“Anything that brings the community together is a positive thing,” he said. “This could be about anything and I’d be interested in it, because I support the community, but obviously there is a whole lot of information here that is way too much for a person to pick up on their own.”

There were dozens of other booths at the fair, including one with instructions on how to stop a bleeding wound and which first aid supplies are a must-have: gauze, hygiene cloths, Band-Aids, rubber gloves and disinfectant.

The fair emphasized having a plan for reconnecting with family members following a disaster. It is essential to either memorize emergency phone numbers or write them down, so that when a working phone is found, people can contact loved ones and emergency services to regroup.

“It’s not all about buying stuff,” Forrest said. “A lot of the work that needs to go into being prepared is thinking about your unique situation and how you are going to overcome those obstacles that we think are going to be there. Buying a kit doesn’t solve it. It’s a nice gesture, but it’s not about buying stuff. It’s about making plans to get together, to get back together with your loved ones.”

Mueller said the Queen Anne Block Watch Captains Network isn’t going to stop at the survival skills fair; the group also wants to host classes at the community center throughout the year that teach people how to “Stop the Bleed,” and how to effectively use first aid methods and supplies.

“These are things that people are likely to have to do, and if you don’t know how to do them, you are more likely to do more harm than good,” she said. “We may even do a session on how to make the emergency toilets again, because not everybody will be here today.”

The fair, with the 200 emergency toilets included, was primarily funded through a grant from the Department of Neighborhoods and private donations.

Fair participant Sally LaPorte said getting prepared is right up her alley.

I came here today to be prepared,” she said. “I had never heard of this type of event before, so I thought, ‘Well, I should probably go.’ Plus, I enjoy reading dystopian novels and believe that you need to be prepared, because you never know what the event is going to be.”