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Yolanda Becerra

The automatic doors opened as local residents stepped into the Northridge Fashion Center at 9:30 a.m. The majority of shops and food venues weren’t open as people trickled into the lower level of the mall. A small line had formed of people waiting to be allowed into the Center Court of the Northridge Fashion Center, and it steadily grew. Throughout the line residents conversed in friendly tones with smiles on their faces as they awaited the Los Angeles’ 15th Annual Emergency Preparedness Fair on Sept. 16.

September is known as National Preparedness Month in memory of the Sept. 11 attacks. Throughout the month, fairs were held in Los Angeles County. Among the four locations chosen for the fairs this month, Northridge was second on the list.

“Northridge was specifically chosen to host the fair because it is one of the busiest malls in the world,” said Hans Christian Ipsen, division chief of the Emergency Preparedness Department and program coordinator. “Northridge is an area that has been impacted by the ’94 earthquake.”

The fair consisted of 20 tables with different organizations and corporations that passed out information on emergency preparedness during a variety of natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, fires and electrical disasters. There were representatives from major corporations who spoke to residents about what they can do to become better prepared for an emergency and to answer any questions about the information that was on the tables for people to take.

Three hundred sample emergency kits were distributed to the first 300 households who visited all the tables and received stickers proving their involvement at each booth.

The emergency kit included a flashlight, moist towelettes, a whistle, a survival blanket, emergency packets of water, bandages and emergency food rations.

“I am very happy with the turnout,” Ipsen said. “Within one hour, our ? 300 emergency kits were given away.”

Local residents came out in full force to show interest and support for the event.

“I think the fair is really good because having kids and all, (I think) preparation is important,” said Cindy Fuentes, who has two children. “I found the fair helpful because I can go home and read all the information and be prepared for emergencies.”

There was a constant flow of people circling the tables at the Emergency Preparedness Fair, but the crowd consisted mostly of older generations. Teenagers and college students weren’t in attendance and didn’t show any interest in the event as they walked past the fair to continue venturing into the mall.

“We find reaching out to the younger generations as a big gap,” said Ipsen. “I think the issue is that kids are worried about day-to-day living now. They are not concerned about emergency preparedness. They figure that either their parents or the government is going to take care of them.”

Even though younger generations weren’t in high attendance for any reason or cause, there was a group of young boys dressed in uniform who were there and proud to call themselves Boy Scouts.

“We are trying to teach our youth and our scouts what to do in case of an emergency and they will probably be able to better educate their parents this way in case something happens,” said Les ter Salay, patrol leader of Pack 441 in Northridge.

Two more fairs will also be taking place. On Sept.23, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza will be hosting a fair in Central Los Angeles. Lincoln Park will be the last location on Sept. 30.