Parachutes, Three Styles

Paranoia or prudence -- whatever reason inspires customers to visit Safer America, the security boutique is doing a land-office business

Business is brisk at Safer America, a retailer devoted to homeland security and located just four blocks from Ground Zero in New York City. Among the items filling its shelves: antiradiation pills, nuclear, biological, chemical (NBC) bodysuits, Geiger counters, bulletproof vests, parachutes, and 20 different gas masks. The store also plies its wares on the Web at Safebreaker.Com.

Hot products include the $339 MSA Millennium gas mask, which U.S. soldiers carried to guard against biological and chemical weapons during the last Gulf War. The $79 Evac-U8 smoke escape hood is also popular because it's small enough to fit in a handbag or briefcase. Pop one end of its soda-can shaped filter and a yellow plastic hood emerges. The device fortifies your lungs against carbon monoxide for 15 minutes (see BW Online, 2/20/03, "The Profits of Doom").

SOFT LANDING.

  Not sure what to buy? The retailer has put together various packages. The $975 High Rise Kit includes an escape parachute, an escape hood, a bodysuit, a package of potassium iodide (to combat radiation poisoning), a pair of protective nitrile gloves, booties, a flashlight, and, of course, duct tape. The $965 Family 2 Kit has no parachute but a "child protective wrap," and "a big bottle of potassium iodide." There are three kinds of parachutes, which come with instructional videos for first-time users. The $1,499 Evacuchute has an attachment bag for "infants and small pets." The $845 Executive Chute is designed for one person in a high-rise building.

Safer America has big plans, and would like to be in malls across the country. Let's just hope what the store sells never needs to be used.

By Lewis Braham in New York