Ahead of the Pack

Home emer­gency kits have gone main­stream

The Walrus - - CONTENTS - by Gly­nis Rat­cliffe

Nearly two years ago, around the time of Don­ald Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion, go bags be­came a pop­u­lar topic of dis­cus­sion. “Am I the only one feel­ing com­pelled to put to­gether a go-bag like we all did in NYC post 9-11?” Elly Lonon, au­thor of the satir­i­cal Mc­sweeney’s In­ter­net Ten­dency’s col­umn turned book “Amongst the Lib­eral Elite,” posted on Face­book. Many of those who re­sponded agreed with the sen­ti­ment.

Go bags, also known as bug-out bags, are usu­ally duf­fle bags or back­packs filled with es­sen­tial items one would need to sur­vive for seventy-two hours, meant to be used in case of a sud­den evac­u­a­tion. Their con­tents typ­i­cally in­clude a change of clothes, enough food and wa­ter for each per­son in the house­hold for three days, bat­ter­ies, can­dles, a so­lar-pow­ered or crank ra­dio, flash­lights, and pho­to­copies of es­sen­tial doc­u­ments, among other things.

Un­til very re­cently, it would have been rare to find any­one be­yond fer­vent dooms­day prep­pers or con­spir­acy the­o­rists with any mo­ti­va­tion to put one to­gether. But go bags had a brief surge in pop­u­lar­ity in the United States af­ter 9/11 and again dur­ing Barack Obama’s se­cond term—at the time, the far right an­tic­i­pated a civil war. Obama, af­ter all, was plung­ing Amer­ica into moral and fi­nan­cial ruin, or so some claimed.

Dur­ing Trump’s first year in of­fice, go bags went main­stream. In the lead up to the elec­tion, Cards Against Hu­man­ity, the com­pany be­hind the Nsfw fill-inthe-blank party game, cre­ated a lim­it­ededi­tion Don­ald Trump Bug-out Bag, which in­cluded among its con­tents a gold locket with a photo of Obama and a copy of Plato’s Repub­lic; the 10,000 on of­fer sold out within seven hours. Goop, Gwyneth Pal­trow’s lifestyle brand, in­cluded a two-week sur­vival bag (for $12,500) in its 2015 Ridicu­lous (and Awe­some) Gift Guide. And a num­ber of Amer­i­can me­dia out­lets, in­clud­ing GQ and the New York Times, have pub­lished tongue-incheek-but-ac­tu­ally-kind-of-se­ri­ous howto ar­ti­cles on sur­viv­ing the apoca­lypse, com­plete with gear sug­ges­tions. There are even monthly sub­scrip­tion ser­vices that de­liver a box of sur­vival tools to your front door, and yes, many de­liver world­wide. Ac­cord­ing to one Reuters re­port last year, some sur­vival­ist gear shops saw sales triple in the weeks fol­low­ing a series of hur­ri­canes and earth­quakes and the threat of nu­clear war with North Korea.

As a Cana­dian, I’ve al­ways as­sumed I am pretty safe. I don’t think I’ve ever be­lieved the ex­treme sce­nar­ios my Amer­i­can Face­book friends wor­ried about would cross the bor­der nor that I was un­der any threat of a large-scale dis­as­ter. While we have oc­ca­sional cli­mate-re­lated events that re­quire peo­ple to evac­u­ate — flood­ing in Man­i­toba and Al­berta, ice storms in On­tario, Que­bec, and the Mar­itimes—these types of sce­nar­ios feel rare. Or, at least, they once did. Then there was the 2016 Fort Mcmur­ray wild­fire, which re­quired mass evac­u­a­tions. This past sum­mer, BC ex­pe­ri­enced the worst wild­fire sea­son on record in the prov­ince. Cli­mate-chan­g­ere­lated ex­treme weather events, such as

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