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Store Offers Protection for Terror

October 17, 2002

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Biohazard suit? Check. Potassium iodide pills? Check. Parachute for jumping from a burning high-rise building? Check.

A new store called Safer America opened Thursday a few blocks from the World Trade Center with shelves filled with emergency-preparedness gear, from radiation detectors and to survival kits.

The idea originated with co-founder Frederic Samama, who wanted to purchase a gas mask last spring to keep at his Manhattan apartment.

``I couldn’t find a reliable source _ it’s good to speak to someone, to ask how it works and to get training,″ said Samama, who left his job as a bond trader to start the store with Harvey Kushner, a renowned terrorism expert.

Many Americans bought masks _ as well as water purifiers, antibiotics and survival manuals _ after the terrorist attack on the trade center towers last year. One major Texas distributor of military surplus items reported sales of 39,000 masks in the month after the attack, compared with 250 during the same period the year before.

Samama and Kushner say they plan to open two additional Manhattan stores and hope to keep adding inventory.

Elin Gursky, a senior fellow for biodefense programs and public health at the Anser Institute for Homeland Security in Arlington, Va., said many survival supplies are more empowering than practical.

``It’s been a very scary past year and people are looking for ways to feel safe,″ Gursky said. ``But I don’t think this is a climate where people should be panicking to go out and purchase these items just because the stores decide there’s a market to sell them.″


On the Net:

Safe America: http://www.saferamerica.com

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