The library isn’t just a place where books live. It is also a place for learning. This message was made clear last Saturday when the Z.J. Loussac Library was transformed into a pandemic zone, complete with toppled chairs, cautionary signs and, of course, zombies.
The point was to make it through the maze without being touched by a zombie, which represented germs during a pandemic.
The educational part was in eight different stations set up throughout the maze. Each station depicted information about how to make a plan in case of an emergency, giving instructions about how much food and water to store and how to be prepared to stay in a single home during such a crisis.
The zombies had powder on their hands that glowed in black light. Once a participant made it through the third floor maze to the fourth floor decontamination chamber, he or she then stepped under the black light, which revealed if whether the person had been infected. If the person was infected the hazardous materials team from the fire department was on hand to decontaminate the individual.
The first 300 people who went through the maze were offered free flu shots given by public health nurses. The public health department used this as an exercise, not only to practice what they would do during a pandemic, but to educate participants about what the public health department would do in a health crisis, such as an anthrax attack.
Toni McEhrson, public relations coordinator with the library, said the library has worked with the health department and the Center for Emergency Operations for years doing preparedness fairs.
The Anchorage Fire Department is in charge of the preparedness fairs and wanted to host them indoors, so McEhrson suggested they host them in the library.
The zombie theme comes from the Centers for Disease Control who thought if a person can survive a zombie apocalypse, then he or she could survive anything.
Alaskan survival tips
The first thing to do to prepare for an emergency is to have a plan. Identify the types of emergencies that can occur where you live. For Alaskans, that includes earthquakes, tsunamis volcanic eruptions and flooding.
Pick a meeting place for your family to regroup in case of an emergency.
Make a list of emergency contacts such as the police department, and fire department. If you have family outside of Alaska, ask them to be a contact in case you are unable to reach your in-state family.
Be sure to plan your evacuation route. If it is necessary to leave town, know where you would go, and figure out different ways to reach your final destination.
It is also advisable to have a safety kit in your house in case of an emergency. A good safety kit should include one gallon of water per person per day, non-perishable food items, extra medication, sanitation and hygiene products such as bleach and soap, extra clothing and blankets, copies of documents such as drivers licenses and passports, and first aid supplies.
Amber Harper of Bezek Durst Seiser Architecture said, “Think about what to do. I think that’s where people get thrown off, if it’s not someone thinking the worst thing is going to happen. I know where to go. I have this stash of money. I’ve got my altered weapon to kill zombies with or whatever. I’ve got my bug bag to take with me if I have to go.”
About 80 people volunteered to make this event a reality.
For more information on how to survive a zombie apocalypse, visit blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2011/05/preparedness-101-zombie-apocalypse.