Commissaries Remind Customers to be Prepared With Essentials

By Capt. Audricia McKinney and Bonnie Powell
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORT LEE, Va., June 5, 2006 - Military families are being encouraged to "load up their pantries" as the Defense Commissary Agency launches an awareness campaign encouraging military families to keep nonperishable foods, water and other necessities on hand for emergencies.

DeCA is teaming up with the Armed Forces Emergency Services Branch of the American Red Cross to raise awareness of disaster preparedness throughout the military community.

The "What's in Your Closet?" campaign kicks off this month and is intended to get military families thinking about how prepared they are for a disaster. Customers will see posters and handouts in stores, and reminder buttons on employees.

With the June 1 start of hurricane season, military families in coastal areas at home and abroad need to be ready, said Patrick Nixon, chief executive officer and acting director of the Defense Commissary Agency. "We want to raise awareness of the need to keep emergency supplies on hand - and that shoppers can realize savings of 30 percent or more by using their commissary benefit to supply their emergency closet," he added.

The media has also heightened awareness of the possibility of a pandemic, an outbreak of infectious disease that has the potential to spread worldwide.

"Disasters can take on many forms," said Joseph Moffat, executive director, Armed Forces Emergency Services. "From blackouts to blizzards, to tornadoes and earthquakes, everyone should be prepared with enough emergency supplies to last seven days."

Toward that end, Nixon said, posters in commissaries will list suggestions of supplies to have on hand. "The commissary disaster preparedness posters have a list of basic items people might want to consider," he said. "But there may be many more items such as shelf-stable milk or favorite snacks that people might want to include. This is simply intended to get people thinking and get them to take action - now."

Red Cross representatives will have the opportunity to provide commissary customers with information and answer questions about disaster preparedness. The type of information and events offered will vary according to location, and in some cases customers will also have the opportunity to sign up for volunteer services and classes, such as first aid or disaster preparedness, DeCA officials said.

(Capt. Audricia McKinney and Bonnie Powell are assigned to the Defense Commissary Agency.)

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