Packing tips for an evacuation

In my experience, whatever your disaster, at some point a uniformed public servant will begin screaming at you through a bullhorn that you must leave now. But packing in preparation for fleeing involves making split second decisions without a clear head. This time as I packed, a voice in my head said, “Quickly, just grab the clothes you like best.” That seemingly sensible idea became the reason that I now wake up every morning to two pairs of pants that do not fit, five shirts that I cannot wear because they require dry cleaning and no shoes.

Of course, I did better this time than I did with the last fire, when I wound up sleeping on a friend’s couch for five days wrapped in the leashes of four large dogs. There, I made the unhappy discovery that I’d packed no bras or underwear, yet had somehow brought along the program from my sixth grade dance recital.

That is why I recommend that you maintain, year round, a carefully packed box containing important papers, such as your birth certificate, passport, insurance policies, selected sentimental photos that are too glued into bulky photo albums to be digitized. And by the way, why did you glue them down like that? What is wrong with you? But now is not the time for recriminations.

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