Melanie Savage took a needle and monofilament to a pig’s foot and practiced what she hopes she’ll never need to do for real: close a wound. The very thought of it scares her.
“Just the knowledge will get rid of the fear, basically,” said Savage, who lives in Post Falls. “A lot of times we’ll go hiking, go out in the backcountry somewhere, and accidents do happen.”
The suturing lesson led by an emergency physician from Oregon was one of the hands-on workshops, lectures and demonstrations at the Sustainable Preparedness Expo held Sunday at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center. It was a magnet for Inland Northwest residents wanting to know more about disaster preparation, survival skills and sustainable living concepts.
Hundreds crowded around vendors selling solar energy systems, water purifiers, medicinal charcoal and toilet-mount bidets. There was a big focus on food, with tips on seeds, herbs, nuts and sprouts.
There were strategies for guarding against electromagnetic pulses next to warnings of biblical prophecies of the end of times.
And there were instructions for making sauerkraut.
Nick Meissner organized the expo, and he knows the information appeals to a broad array of interests, from doomsday preppers to folks who just want to lower their utility bills and grow more of their food.
“We get people who are preparing for natural disasters or the end of the world as we know it, and we get people interested in these things because they want to be more green. And everything in between,” Meissner said.
He and his wife, Lisa, live off the grid – unplugged from utility services – in Bonner County. Yet they run a business, Sustainable Preparedness, putting on seminars and producing training videos.
“Our goal is to educate people about how to live a lifestyle that is sustainable and puts them in a position where they can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem during disasters and things like that,” Meissner said.
David and Mary Johnson, of Spokane Valley, left the expo saying it gave them much to think about, such as how they’d find food, fuel and medicine in the event of a major emergency.
It’s common-sense advice “for people who want to have a little more control over their lives in the event a natural disaster happens,” Mary Johnson said.
“And to show people they don’t have to depend, hopefully, on an organization like FEMA or Red Cross that might not be there,” her husband added.
Tracy Cole was busy handing out samples of freeze-dried asparagus, corn, pineapple, even yogurt. He sets up his Panhandle Thrive Northwest booth at gun shows and RV shows, but the response at Sunday’s expo was “amazing,” he said.
“More and more people are concerned about the way the world situation is going, and they’re preparing the best that they can,” said Cole, who lives in Post Falls and also works in construction.
He recommends a minimum 90-day food supply, and he shows a photo of his own supply of provisions. “I’m covered because I’ve got enough food,” Cole said.
Meissner downplays anticipating any one type of event. Sustainable living, he believes, prepares one for a host of trouble.
“If you live that kind of a lifestyle, then you are in a position to actually be OK if any of these impending disasters happen,” he said. “And if they don’t happen, then it’s no sweat, because I consider it a superior lifestyle. We really enjoy it and many other people do, too.”