03/12/2011 AT 03:00 PM EST
Petra Nemcova knows all too well what it's like to live through a natural disaster.
On Friday, after a devastating earthquake and ensuing tsunami devastated Japan
, Nemvoca, who survived the 2004 disaster
in Thailand, says it's difficult for her to watch the news coverage.
"It's very hard to look ... at those videos," the model and Dancing with the Stars
contestant tells Access Hollywood
. "Seeing people trying to escape from their cars and knowing this can be prevented. I think it's such a crime not to have disaster preparedness in curriculums."
One of the keys to survival, she says, is simply to stay calm.
"That's very hard to do," she says, "but if you are not calm and focused you miss the opportunity to either help someone or help yourself to survive."
Recalling her own experience in the Thailand tsunami, Nemcova says, "It's a time of suffering but also amazing, unconditional love. You see people helping strangers and putting their lives at stake for someone they never met."
And when disaster strikes, she says, all differences are put aside.
"There's the famous saying 'six degrees of separation,' but if a natural disaster happens, there's no degree of separation," Nemcova says. "We are all connected."