If your house were about to burn down and you only had 5 minutes to grab something what would you grab?
It is an old exercise that I've seen a few times including in at least one major Hollywood movie. The idea is to force some inner analysis in thinking through what is really the most important in life.
Seems like a valuable exercise but like most things, the theoretical exercise never measures up to the real thing.
On December 30th, 2021 extreme winds (gusts over 100 mph) caused a power line to fall and start a brush fire in the Northwest corner of the Denver Colorado metro area. The town of Superior Colorado was immediately evacuated as the winds spread the fire and made it impossible to fight or stop.
Soon after the town of Louisville Colorado was also evacuated. Louisville has been featured in Money magazine, Family Circle magazine, and in the book “Best Places to Raise Your Family” as among the best cities in the country to live and raise a family.
At appx 5:30 pm my own subdivision was put on pre-evacuation notice. In case that isn't obvious the idea is that you pack a bag and cautiously await orders to evacuate. To avoid any potential concern on my behalf you should know that we were never asked to evacuate and the pre-evacuation notice was lifted before that night was over.
This created a unique moment in our family. One in which we didn't know how long it might be before we were asked to evacuate.
All-day we had been in the house hearing and feeling the force of extreme winds pounding on us. The winds were extreme enough to collapse a local tire store injuring six. We had every reason to believe that it was absolutely likely that the fire which was at the time destroying a Tesla dealership about 8 miles away could absolutely make its way to our neighborhood.
That old mental exercise got real, real fast. At the moment Ami and decided to prepare to leave I stood up from my computer and froze for a moment as I thought to myself… what do I grab?
It started with necessity. Naturally, without any real discussion, we all packed clothes to last a few days, food for the dogs, and our 72-hour emergency kits.
My entire life I've had a 72-hour emergency kit. When I was a young kid I remember family meetings in which we updated our kits and made sure all the contents were in good condition. As an adult, my wife and I have hosted similar family meetings and only last year we made significant changes to our kits. I've NEVER, before that night, grabbed my kit thinking I might need to use it.
After we grabbed the core essentials we started to work outward almost in a circle, packing some things that we could live without but it wouldn't be pleasant. Computers, favorite toys, and some food and water.
Eventually, you keep moving outward in this metaphorical circle. All guns in smaller quick access safes were transferred to the big fireproof safes, old photo albums were packed, sleeping bags were grabbed. Pictures and video are taken of the whole house to document for a potential insurance claim.
Then there comes a point where you just stop. You just look around and think that it doesn't matter anymore. The adrenaline wears off and you realize that at this point you either need to pack everything or nothing more.
My situation turned out to be nothing more than an inconvenience that led to us learning more about ourselves and being better prepared for a future emergency. Hundreds have lost their homes, businesses, and jobs. It is a tragic event.
We don't live in the woods. We don't live anywhere near anything that could be considered a wildfire risk. However, in the course of about 3 hours, we went from hearing there was a fire to being told to get ready to evacuate.
Ask yourself if you really are prepared. What would you grab first?
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