Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Partners with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Emergency Preparedness Program

Innovative partnership aims to increase the number of Coloradans who develop emergency preparedness kits for their homes, office and car

DENVER (February 29, 2008) – Heading into one of Colorado’s snowiest months, the Emergency Preparedness and Response Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is teaming up with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to encourage residents to prepare their own home, office and car emergency preparedness kits. The company’s Sam’s Club locations also are participating.

“I am very pleased that Wal-Mart selected Colorado for its first such statewide partnership, which helps us continue our efforts to increase the number of Coloradans who have emergency preparedness kits in their homes, office and cars,” said Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter. “As one of the nation’s largest retailers, Wal-Mart can help us reach more people with our message about the importance of having an emergency preparedness kit – and can make it easy for Coloradans to shop for kit items.”

Beginning March 1 and continuing through March 9, Coloradans can visit their local Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club to view sample emergency preparedness kit items on display and pick up an informational brochure, available in both English and Spanish, which includes a checklist to help them shop for their own kit.

Many of the Wal-Mart displays will be staffed with volunteers from the Colorado Public Health and Medical Volunteer System and other volunteer organizations to assist in distributing brochures and to answer questions from the public. They also will distribute specific brochures for people with disabilities and special needs.

In addition, at the end of the nine-day program, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club locations will donate emergency kit items to the National Organization on Disability’s Emergency Preparedness Initiative, which works to ensure that people with disabilities are included in all levels of emergency preparedness.

“Surveys in Colorado and across the nation have demonstrated that more than half the population is not prepared for emergencies,” said Chris Lindley, director of the department’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Division. “I’m very pleased that our state and Wal-Mart have forged this significant partnership to help residents learn how to better prepare for emergencies and hope that other states will follow our lead.”

Two weeks ago, a state of emergency was declared in Park County, Colo., after snowstorms blanketed the area and left approximately 100 Coloradans without access to food and other critical supplies – a vivid reminder that emergencies can materialize quickly and leave people without basic necessities. Surveys repeatedly have shown that the vast majority of residents do not have emergency preparedness kits for their homes, automobiles or offices. A recent survey of 929 Colorado residents over the age of 18 showed:

  • 73 percent of respondents said they do not possess an emergency preparedness kit
  • Yet, 66 percent of respondents believe they are prepared for an emergency lasting three days – and 56 percent believe they are prepared for an extended two-week emergency

“Knowing what to do during an emergency may make all the difference when seconds count,” said Lindley. “Having an emergency preparedness kit on hand – in your home, in your office and in your car – is not only an important part of being prepared and ensuring you have the resources you need to stay healthy and safe, but will also allow first responders to prioritize their efforts and aid – and possibly save other lives.”

At the 64 Wal-Mart and 15 Sam’s Clubs locations across Colorado, residents can find information about emergency preparedness and begin building their kits. These kits should contain the basic essentials for living, including drinking water, nonperishable food and medical supplies (including prescription medications). Other important items include: extra batteries, flashlights, communication devices (radio, cell phone and charger), garbage bags, warm blankets and copies of important personal documents. People also should consider additional items important to their family’s needs, such as pet food, baby formula or diapers. Each emergency preparedness kit should be created to provide enough essentials to last a minimum of three days for shorter emergencies, such as being homebound during a snowstorm, but should last a minimum of two weeks for longer emergencies such as an influenza pandemic.

“We believe this program will result in a significant increase in awareness about emergency preparedness among Colorado citizens,” said Beth Montgomery, senior manager of Emergency Management at Wal- Mart. “No matter if it is before, during, or after an emergency, it’s critical that Coloradans know they can rely on Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club to help them prepare. We are dedicated to saving people money so they can live better – and in this case, safer. This program will help families to compete their kits as comprehensively and quickly as possible.”

At the end of the campaign, partners from the National Organization on Disability (NOD) will pick up the sample emergency preparedness kit items from Wal-Mart locations and distribute them to disabled and special-needs recipients. Materials from the NOD’s Emergency Preparedness Initiative (EPI) will accompany the donated kits, including a copy of the "Emergency Readiness Wheel for People with Disabilities,” an all-hazards-based education tool to assist people with disabilities when designing a personal emergency preparedness plan.

"This campaign in Colorado is an example of thinking outside the box and looking beyond National Preparedness Month in September as the only month for preparedness education," said Hilary Styron, Director of NOD’s EPI. “It reinforces our firm belief that everyone of every ability should be prepared everyday.”

About What If? Colorado
The What If? Colorado campaign is sponsored by the Emergency Preparedness and Response Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to educate Coloradans about the importance of emergency preparedness and public health. The department is the lead state agency responsible for coordinating health and medical resources in response to a major disaster or emergency in Colorado. For more information, please visit www.WhatIfColorado.com or call the Colorado Help Line: 1-877-462-2911.

About Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. operates Wal-Mart discount stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam’s Club locations in the United States. The Company operates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom. More information about Wal-Mart can be found by visiting www.walmartfacts.com. Online merchandise sales are available at www.walmart.com.

About the National Organization on Disability
The mission of the National Organization on Disability (NOD) is to expand the participation and contribution of America’s 54 million men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. To learn more about disability and special needs preparedness, please visit www.nod.org/emergency.