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Ref: Pennsylvania community distributes emergency preparedness information at local grocery stores

The Morning Call

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Don't discount preparedness, groups tell shoppers

Residents receive free brochure, bottled water at Allentown Wegmans.

By Ann Wlazelek

Of The Morning Call

October 1, 2007

Thousands of area residents may be better prepared for an emergency after receiving a free ''Get Ready'' DVD and checklist of what to keep in a home supply kit at a popular Allentown grocery store this weekend.

Or they'll just be better hydrated after taking the free bottled water.

Members of the Allentown Health Bureau, Lehigh County Emergency Response Team and local volunteer groups distributed more than 1,200 brochures and more than 2,500 bottles of water in the vestibule of Wegmans on Saturday and Sunday, encouraging customers to prepare for the unexpected.

''Would you like some free emergency-preparedness information?'' the Health Bureau's MaryEllen Shiels called out in the noisy corridor each time a shopper came by with a cart. ''You and your family should have at least three days' worth of supplies.''

An emergency could be a power outage, fire or flood, the printed materials said. It doesn't have to be a terrorist attack. But waiting until such an event to gather food, water, paper goods, flashlights, batteries and medicines is too late, experts said.

Evelyn Anson of Allentown said she appreciated the service. After a quick scan of the list, she said the only thing she didn't have at home in case of an emergency was paper cups.

Arlene Wright, another city resident, told Shiels she put together an emergency kit several years ago in case she'd have to live in her basement because of an attack like 9/11.

''Their coming over and bombing us is one of my biggest worries,'' she said, accepting everything but the DVD because she doesn't have a player to watch it.

Merritt Pearson of Cetronia said he found out the hard way that he's not prepared when he broke his ankle three months ago.

''Where were you then?'' he asked, teasing Cheryl Wentz of Emmaus, a Wegmans employee handing out the free water.

Pearson took the materials, promising to read them, but confessed he's ''not extremely worried'' about needing to leave his house in a hurry or living in the basement for weeks.

A woman who works at the Emmaus Public Library took an extra DVD to put on the shelf for anyone who wants to see the locally produced, 15-minute video.

Other shoppers, however, shook their heads, ignored the offer or waved their hands to indicate they were not interested.

''I'm surprised when they say no,'' Shiels, a chronic disease manager, said. ''It's not like we're asking them to buy anything.''

Anyone who missed the weekend handout in honor of National Emergency Preparedness Month can call the Allentown Health Bureau for brochures or a DVD at 610-437-7577, or visit the Web site .


Copyright © 2007, The Morning Call

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