THE GRAB BAG By Douglas Ramsay
is a grab bag and why is it needed? On September 12th 2019,
Police Scotland issued guidance on packing a handy bag with essential
items in case you have to evacuate your home in a hurry. This should
include medications, copies of essential documents and various other items
which are discussed in detail later. A spokesman from Police Scotland said
the warning was issued because September is ‘Preparedness Month’,
which had originally been a U.S. campaign run by the Department of
Homeland Security. The advice was offered on its control room Twitter
account along with an image of a fully stocked grab and go bag.
But many people wondered why all this was issued so widely and
suddenly in September out of the blue. The more sceptical thought it had
more to do with Brexit than emergencies which would require one to leave
home in a hurry. The only emergencies in the offing at that time were a
few local thunderstorms and much alarm was caused, especially amongst
older people, who wondered if the public services knew something that they
did not know. The Scottish Tory Justice Spokesman said, “It is difficult
to understand why September requires people to prepare an emergency grab
bag. Given the current atmosphere in the U.K., Police Scotland should have
considered the impact this would have before posting.
However, let us admit it, the advice is good for the majority of
the population. First, let us consider the emergencies which might occur
in descending order of importance and likelihood. Fire, flood, gas leaks
and power cuts are the most important causes cited though most citizens
would prefer to stay put in their own homes with a good collection of
candles if electricity blackouts occurred. Many have alternative sources
of heating and gas fires of the older type which do not rely on
electricity. A post on Twitter asked what other emergencies might occur,
scaring people with no explanation, Brexit, war, civil disturbance,
Nuclear accident or martial law? This brings to mind a vision of the four
horsemen of the apocalypse, war, pestilence, famine and death trampling
through your garden and arriving at your front door. Finally, the most
cynically minded might argue that the list should include invasion of
Britain by fire breathing lobsters or flesh eating zombies, perhaps even,
attack by aliens.
I will return, however to more serious matters. The grab bag, shown
diagrammatically on the internet and various newspapers, contains the
following items, pen and notepad: personal toiletries: phone charger and
battery bank (but no phone): seasonal clothing: flash light: batteries:
food and water: radio: whistle: first aid kit and emergency plan. A
further item which looks like the rook from a chest board is shown but not
labelled. What is this?
These items are in the main sensible pieces of equipment for
emergency use though the toiletries only include a toothbrush and
toothpaste. A toilet roll would be sorely missed if you had to spend a
night in the woods with only prickly leaves to wipe your bottom. The phone
charger and battery pack to charge up the charger are shown but the mobile
phone is not. Probably it is assumed that people carry their mobiles glued
to their persons at all times. Certainly a mobile phone, close at hand,
would be handy for taking a selfie with your house in case it was no
longer there when you returned. Seasonal clothing is another puzzle: some
wag has suggested that in September, it would be difficult to know whether
a hallowe’en costume or a Santa Claus outfit would be more appropriate.
Finally, I come to the emergency plan. How can you make out this plan if
you do not know what the emergency will be or where you will dash off to
after grabbing your grab bag.
Now I will come to those things which I think are important and
which have not been included in the bag. A small photograph album would
provide a continuity of your life if everything else was lost. Also, the
inclusion of copies of house deeds, insurance policies and investments
could be very valuable at a future date. There is no mention of money: I
would include 500-5000 pounds, according to earnings, to find
accommodation and also to bribe the relevant
authorities to allow you to return to your house if they had declared it
unsafe. Spare house keys are a must. Imagine coming back to your beautiful
and untouched home but finding yourself unable to get in. The local
locksmith would be extremely busy and have a long waiting list, another
reason for having plenty of cash. What about a local ordinance survey map?
Fleeing your home for a desired destination would be greatly helped by a
map and also a compass if you knew how to use it.
What other things have been left out? Some wags on Twitter have
suggested filling their grab bags with bottles of good quality wine or
single malts. I would call these glad bags instead of grab bags and I
doubt the seriousness of these twits though a small bottle of Glenfiddich
would be very welcome in times of stress if taken discreetly. It could
always be stored in an Iron Brew bottle. Other contents for the grab bag
have been suggested on Twitter, an automatic rifle and money, a smash and
grab bag, one loaded with sweets and cookies, a flab bag and even a bag
containing all ones writings, a gab bag.
To come back to more serious matters, however, what would induce
you to leave your home, how would you get to your desired destination and
what would you do having arrived there. Women have great difficulty
finding things in their handbags and the same would apply to anyone trying
to find a needed item in a hurry.
Eureka, the solution to this would be a smart grab bag, one which
shouted at you if it detected smoke, gas or carbon monoxide in the
vicinity. A smart bag could also activate or even take on many of the
functions of the contents at the touch of a button or by voice activation.
Alexa, get me out of here! Another function might be to dictate an
emergency plan following messages that it picked up from a central control
room though this could be vulnerable by hackers.
In the very distant future, it might even be possible to imprint
your house and contents on an ultra smart grab bag and the information
used to reconstitute house and belongings if you returned to a home which
was no longer there. Advances in technology will always grab us.