When it comes to emergency preparedness, Debbi Yamanaka prefers Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate bars to plastic sheeting.

The chocolate is stored among other supplies, from Vienna sausages to Lay's sour cream and onion potato chips to sleeping bags to guitars. There are enough goodies to feed her family of three for a week.

It's all crammed in a windowless room Yamanaka calls a safe room in the basement of her family's Manassas home. Although the Yamanakas have also stashed traditional necessities such as a radio, a flashlight and jugs of water, they have departed from the official Department of Homeland Security recommendations.

"Have a little fun with this," said Yamanaka, 38. "For goodness' sakes, don't do it panicky. Have fun."

Yamanaka's philosophy on emergency planning is simple: Use the standard lists as a foundation but include everyday items the family will actually eat and use. And likewise, incorporate preparations into life's daily routines. Supplying the safe room is already a part of her regular grocery shopping trips.

"There are a lot of people who are going out and taking some extraordinary preparedness measures, and they might be overreacting," she said. "Preparedness is really important, and it can be really easy. We're a living breathing example that it doesn't have to be your life."

As talk of war and threats of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil loom and plastic sheeting and duct tape fly off store shelves, what sets the Yamanakas apart is that their behavior hasn't changed.

They've made no last-minute trips to Home Depot or Giant. They were already well prepared when the terrorism threat level was raised to high Feb. 7.

Every time the Yamanakas buy food at the grocery store, they place new, fresh items in the safe room and rotate out older ones. Those older items move upstairs to the pantry. That way the safe room's fare is ready to go and not a big departure from the norm.

Their efforts are being hailed by the American Red Cross of the National Capital Area as a model for what other families should do.

"Red Cross encourages people to do three things," said Courtney Prebich, a spokeswoman for the local charity. "First, make an emergency plan with your family; second, create a disaster supply kit to have in your home; and third, learn how to do CPR and first aid. This family has done all of those things and more."

It's no wonder the Yamanakas are prepared. Debbi and her husband, Bill, are professional emergency planners.

They run a 14-employee company, Arrow Mountain, that specializes in teaching other businesses how to prepare for disaster.

Last fall, Bill Yamanaka joined the nine-year-old company, which has offices in Manassas and McLean, full time to serve as senior vice president. His wife is president.

The two also teach emergency planning classes through the local Red Cross.

Debbi Yamanaka said that until lately, people found her passion for emergency planning odd.

"I do this for a living, and for years I would tell people [terrorist attacks] could happen," Yamanaka said. "Then on Sept. 12, I suddenly was a lot smarter than most people gave me credit for. I'm sure there are people who think that any preparation at all is nuts. I'm not out there in the backwoods building a bunker."

In addition to her well-stocked safe room, Yamanaka keeps several of her own customized kits and a 20-page binder with contact information and facts on what to do in an emergency.

Even her husband said that, until lately, he found Yamanaka's "disaster go kit" a little bizarre.

The kit is a duffel bag full of items; it's kept in the back of the family minivan in case they need to quickly evacuate. It contains things such as a snake bite kit, foil emergency blankets, bandannas, towels and, of course, more Vienna sausages.

"I used to kind of snicker about it," Bill Yamanaka said. "Then I realized it makes sense. If you've got to get out of here in a hurry, you need to have something like that on you."

Debbi Yamanaka and daughter, Elizabeth, 6, examine the food supply in the family's "safe room." Yamanaka and her husband, Bill, are professional emergency planners.Bill Yamanaka inspects the car's emergency kit, which includes a snakebite kit, foil emergency blankets, bandannas and towels.