Outdoor fair informs students on safety issues

Students may have come for the free pizza, but they stayed for the valuable information.

“Twice as many germs are found in earwax than saliva,” was the fact of the day that the Student Health Advisory Council told students at the Personal Safety Fair taking place on Sept. 15 on Kuhlman Court.

SHAC was just one of many booths set up to share information with students and provide students with items for an emergency supply kit at the fair. The Personal Safety Fair was part of Safe Mizzou Week 2015, a weeklong occasion that features various events such as a Safety Walk, Pizza with Police, the 15th Annual Fire Factor and a challenge for students to complete the “Not Anymore” Title IX training by Sept. 17.

“The safety coalition that has been working on this came about because they started with Fire Factor and they realized there was a need not to just address the fire factor issues, the potential for fires, but all other sorts of personal safety issues,” said Rebecca Bergfield, laboratory safety professional with Environmental Health and Safety. “So it’s (turned) into a whole weeklong program. It’s a really great way of addressing safety and keeping our students informed.”

The annual Personal Safety Fair gave students an opportunity to learn about safety resources on and off campus as they visited booths and collected first-aid kits, space blankets and bottles of hand sanitizer to fill up their own personal safety kit.

Organizations, including MU Red Cross Club, passed out flyers detailing what students would need in a first-aid kit that they could keep in their car, residence hall or place of work in case of an emergency.

“I thought about what should college kids always have but they normally don’t,” sophomore and Preparedness Chairwoman Casey Yocks said. “It’s this little first-aid kit. You can put it in a makeup bag, you can put it in your backpack, your purse, your car, your dorm, anywhere.”

Amanda Bicknell, FEMA Region VII spokeswoman, said it’s important students not only learn but also put into practice these emergency procedures early on.

“These are skills for life,” Bicknell said. “If you know how to prepare and you take steps and you plan, it’s good for all aspects of your life.”

The fair included personal safety in all aspects of life as well, with the Department of IT handing out information on how to stay secure online.

“It’s important to stay safe online because nowadays more than half of our personal information lies online,” said Amanda Byler, senior and student assistant for the Information Security and Access Management Team. “Whether it’s social media, your in-person reputation can be affected by what you post and everything else online.”

Bicknell said students could also use social media to create prep lists for emergencies on Twitter and Facebook. This would allow trusted sources’ tweets and posts to all appear in a single stream, so in the case of an emergency, information from sources such as fire departments, hospitals and official city agencies could be found quickly and easily.

If students talked to eight booths and filled out a survey for the event they received a free t-shirt, flash drive and pizza.

Sophomore Kendra Elder said that while the food was how she found out about the fair, she found the organizations there were also worthwhile.

“I think (the fair is) interesting and it gets all the organizations together that have one central purpose: campus safety,” Elder said. “I didn’t really know about some of these organizations, so it was interesting to learn a little bit.”

Safe Mizzou Week 2015 will continue through the week with a Fire Factor event simulating a room burn 11:50 a.m. tomorrow in Speakers Circle.

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