• Carmen Marie Fabio

Emergency measures

Shutterstock Photo Copyright Billion Photos

“Do you have an emergency kit in your car?” asked my publisher out of the blue one day.

“I have a hat...” I responded.

Hey, for someone who doesn’t normally wear hats, that’s actually a big deal.

He went on to list all the necessities he has, and that I should also have in my vehicle, including a blanket, snacks, candle, matches, flares, and a whole bunch of other important sounding stuff.

Apparently half a granola bar in the back seat and box of rusty Band-aids in my trunk won’t cut it in the event of a vehicular mishap.

While I do own the combination seat-belt cutter/window smasher, purchased in a fit of maternal paranoia after the birth of my first child, I don’t have the government-recommended windup flashlight, plastic water bottles, and extra clothing unless you count the pair of leopard-spotted summer shoes forgotten under the front passenger seat.

My sister lives in a remote corner of northwestern Canada where she spends much of her time working with film crews who use the majestic northern scenery as a back-drop for cinematic shoots. And she once told me she is adamant about always having a roll of duct-tape in her own emergency bag-of-tricks, in part because it’s the best thing to patch up holes in seaplane pontoons.

When I asked my kids what items they would want to have in the event of an emergency, their responses were thoughtful and pragmatic.

“A universal tracking device,” said the first.

“A water purification system,” was the second’s contribution.

My youngest looked perplexed when I asked the question, as though the answer should be blatantly obvious.

“My emergency kit,” he said, pointing to a large red knapsack stashed in a corner of his bedroom.

“You made one?” I asked. “What’s in it?”

“Pistachios,” he said. “Warm gloves, six Triple-A batteries, toothpaste, a compass, binoculars....”

“Are those from my car?”

“Glow sticks,” he continued, ignoring me. “Matches, 9-volts, more 9-volts.... Fireworks, a homemade gas-mask, wind-up flashlight, rubber bands - you never know!”

He unearthed things from that knapsack that I’d long given up hope of ever finding in the house again. Suddenly, a whole lot of things began to make sense.

“Granola bars,” he went on, “A hammer, screwdrivers, X-acto knife, multi-tool, a shuriken, candles...”

I sat watching in awe as he continued to pull out all he had squirrelled away for whatever emergency his then 12-year-old mind conceived including a toothbrush and more toothpaste as though dental hygiene had suddenly become a major priority.

“A can opener,” he added, concurring he had packed no actual canned goods.

“Band-aids, a windbreaker, a magnifying glass....”

It went on. Socks, jeans (so that’s where those went!) Toilet paper, long underwear, orange garbage bags, small pocket knife, first aid kit, aluminium foil...

“For what?”

“I dunno.”

He continued pulling out goodies fit for any self-respecting, post-apocalyptic prepper including a whistle, note book, and a signal mirror but my mind had been made up long before his big reveal.

In the event of an emergency, I want my baby by my side.

He has pistachios.

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