Molly Fisk: Ready for Anything?

10031453223_0fc1932595_zPhoto by Flickr user Emma Sherwood (Creative Commons License)

There are two kinds of people in the world, my brother Sam and I used to joke: the kind who do this and the kind who don’t. The kind who reach across the seat to open the car door for you, and the kind who don’t. The kind who put cash in a tip jar and the kind who don’t. Sam once got so mad at me he blurted out “There are two kinds of people in this world, Molly, and you are not one of them!!” That’s made us laugh ever since, and is a good ice breaker during tense conversations, like the one about keeping an emergency bag beside your front door in case of fire or earthquake.

I’m the kind of person who talks about a go-bag but isn’t great at compiling it. I have one, I do. In it, there’s a list of important phone numbers, and a can opener. I rotate  prescription med bottles to it each month after I decant the pills into something else. I have unsalted cashews, good through 2017, and a mini flashlight but no extra batteries. Three cans of cat food, a map of evacuation routes, my passport. Kitchen matches in a zip-lock bag. One pair of socks. Two pens and a pad of paper. A teensy drugstore first aid kit  that doesn’t even contain aspirin.

No water. No radio. No money. The cashews will last a day and we’re told to have provisions for three at least, and better yet: two weeks. I don’t have a bag in the car, should a fire take out my neighborhood while I’m at work and require me to flee from elsewhere.

Probably the same principle operates in humans about disaster planning as it does about death. Somewhere in our deepest secret heart of hearts, we can’t believe it will happen to us. This principle is why people marry more than twice, and still buy homes in Florida with a straight face.

As climate change begins to — oh, what a coincidence! — actually change the climate, we’re all being put on notice that something is likely, fairly soon but we’re not sure how or when, to happen to us. It’s kind of a cool time to be alive. Feeling my own brain get used to this, and watching the behavior of everyone around me is fascinating.

Last week people I know evacuated due to a nearby fire, so things got very real. They had time to run around videotaping the living room and deciding what not to leave behind. People, animals, photographs was what I kept hearing. Almost nothing else was worth taking. (The question arises, then why do we have all this stuff?)

One of my friends has a complete go-bag, and has practiced! She’s strapped it and the cat carrier to her bike and ridden the three miles to her local evacuation center! The only thing she didn’t bring on this trial run was the cat. I’m buying batteries and a  camping water purifier today, and more cashews.

There are two kinds of people in the world, it turns out: the ones who are actually prepared and the ones who aren’t.


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  • Wendl in Manhattan August 20, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    After 9/11 we NYCers were all exhorted (if not trained) to prepare for two emergency scenarios — having to stay inside your home or office for extended period, or having to evacuate your home or office at once. Different supplies for different situations makes for storing a lot of “stuff” — but we did it. Good tip: Use a small external drive on your laptop so you can just grab something small that has all your files. Be safe, Molly, may you never need to use your go-bag.