Friday, February 29, 2008

Your Most Important Thing

Question for you: what's the most important thing to you in the entire world? Really think about this. What is it? Not the most important person in your life. If you had to leave your home or office in five minutes, believing that it would be destroyed and everything would be gone, what is the one thing you would take with you? Photo albums? Laptop? Piano? Okay, that's a little tough to do. Bible? Wedding certificate? What is irreplaceable to you? And no, the one thing doesn't have to be irreplaceable, but I would guess that it probably is.

Flipping through my photo file, I came across this shot of Maybelline, taken while we were at the farm last week. She was plugged in the entire day and I'd asked her to hold up her iPod Nano, with its cute pink and chocolate cover. See that look? I'm pretty sure she wouldn't say this is her most important thing, but it and her guitar are probably the two things she'd grab if the house were on fire.

What would I grab on my way out of the house? I'd be making sure all of the children, the Hunny, all the critters were out, and that I'd thrown on at least a robe, hopefully slippers (it's COLD out there!). But if I were alone in the house, what would I grab?

Photos. I think that I'm going to start scanning my photo albums to the computer - all those lovely pictures of my children. I have two bookshelves full of photos. Those are the only existing copies of most of them. I look around my house and can't imagine anything else that can't be replaced. Honest to Pete, there's so much that I enjoy in my home, so many things with great sentimental value that I wouldn't want to lose, but leaving them? It could be done. In an emergency. The photos? Those would haunt me. I'd like them on CD's, ready to go in a moment.

My mom and dad had to leave their home at the last minute when Hurricane Katrina was moving in. Fortunately, they had scanned most of their photos the year or two before and had them on the computer they took with them. They also had scanned copies of their social security cards, driver's licenses and all their credit cards and contact information for the cards.

Growing up I remember evacuating at least once a year for impending hurricanes. It was old hat by high school. Nothing was scary anymore. We'd grab the boxes of photos, pack a suitcase full of clothes and go. In fact, I remember the photos staying boxed half the year, during hurricane season. They couldn't be replaced. The other half of the year I'd drag them out and look through them all, over and over.

Take a look at the map. I know I showed y'all a map of my hometown before, but this gives a decent perspective of where "home" was. Look down in the bottom right corner. Below New Orleans. See that little town labeled Buras? That was home. The map is from NOAA's website.

So what would you grab if you could. If you had to? Tell me! I really do want to know.

Until I write again ...



imbeingheldhostage said...

Great post!
I actually lived my whole life knowing that I would grab my photos. I even stored them by an exit area (still do), knowing that I would run through the fire to save them. But in 1990 (91?) we exited a dark house (after midnight) in our pajamas and watched the house burn until around 6 am when the cold and shock had numbed us. I didn't grab photos, car keys or anything. I just wanted to get my son out. We didn't have copies of baby videos, books, photos so what you're parents did and you're doing is a brilliant idea.

AutoSysGene said...

Beyond the obvious of loved ones and pets, I would also take the photos. Having lived through a house fire I know that was the thing my parents missed the most.

kay said...

i have 10 years of scrapbooks that i did of big c. those i would grab for sure. i have all my pix on my computer but i have them in a portable hard drive so i can just grab that and go. and i think i would grab my ipod too. and i have a box for each of the kids that have special baby things in there that can not be replaced.

boy i hope i can get out before the house burns down!

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is something I've never given much thought. Pictures for sure would be on the list.

Marguerite said...

At this point in my life, it's a hard question. I would normally say photos as well having lived through many hurricane seasons, but I'm currently living "temporarily" in a one-bedroom apartment with all my stuff including photos in storage. At this point, it would be a toss-up between my heirloom jewelry or the computers. Probably the computers. They have all my tax info, resumes, recent pictures, music, etc.


Anonymous said...

Like you, I'd grab photos. I keep my digital photos on my computer AND on my snapfish account so those wouldnt' be a problem but all my old albums of pics...I'd want them all. I remember I lost an album of pics from when I was a toddler...I cried for days. Anyway, I guess I better get scanning with my oldies! This scared me to think about!

Oh, I'd also grab my small locked box...there are a couple pics in there but there are also sentimental items as old dancing ribbon, an old paycheck stub of my father's, sympathy cards from when he passed, my original social security card with my kiddy-signature, etc.

Oh crap! There is more I'd want to save! All my journals! Dating back to 1986!! ObviouslyI can't narrow it down to one thing. :-(

Anonymous said...

At work during drills I grab my purse and coat and the external back drive for the server. I can be out of my office in 10 seconds. All the technology is insured and replacable. At home in 5 minutes, I'd grab my external hard drive and as many photos as I could. Maybe my monitor because I love it. I can get copies of wedding license, birth certificates, etc.

dlyn said...

If you want to be really sure about the photos, you can always use a digital storage type service - you pay a yearly fee for a set amount of space and supposedly they have redundant back ups in case anything happens to their servers.

As to what I would save, I honestly have no idea what, in the panic of the moment I would think of first. I am sure I would be one of those people who completely lose all their sense and end up with just their hair brush or a bottle of vitamins.

Tanya Brown said...

Definitely photos. By and large, things can be replaced. However, photos are encapsulated memories, far more precious than almost all other possessions.

Lori said...

So many great comments! Good food for thought, Flea!
Hubby and I were just talking last week about having an emergency bag handy with copies of important documents and other things. (we live in TN and the recent tornadoes refreshed the idea that such things could very well be necessary) I never thought of an external hard-drive, though! Gonna do that very soon!
So: 1. child
2. hamster (sorry, fish)
3. emergency bag

Dyln...I have a mental picture of you out in the snow, brushing your hair, holding vitamins and flagging down that directionally challenged UPS guy of yours for help. Hee-hee!

CanadianMama said...

Oh I loved this post.

It really got me thinking and I would say it would be my computer. The second thing would be our marriage cert as it's from Costa Rica and I don't think we could ever get it replaced. The third thing is the robe I bought for Lawson in the states. Is it weird that I would save the robe I bought for my son who is still in my womb? I would probably grab my scrapbooking album and jewelery box.
Ok I just read what I wrote and it appears that I may burn with the house trying to rescue all of my personal belongings.
I've never had to deal with an evacuation - it's good to think about though!

Karen said...

I think I would have to agree with you, Flea. The photos are the only irreplaceable thing that I've got. Knowing that the family and pets were safe, of course.

Wineplz said...

oh wow...I'm a packrat...after chasing out the animals and kids, I'd defintely grab my laptop and our server since that houses all of our pictures, the photo albums, and car keys so that we have somewhere warm/dry to keep everyone.

Mom Knows Everything said...

I so have up upload my photos on photo bucket. I keep telling myself I have to do it, but never get around to it.

Flea said...

Y'all , I have an account with Picasa - Google's photo thingy - but none of my pre-digital pics are there. And I've been too cheap to pay for extra storage. But now that you've brought it up, Dlyn, I think I might shell out the annual fee for storage, then scan all my photos.

You all bring up the very good point of all the time it would take to grab everything. We evacuated for hurricanes, meaning we had plenty of time to find and grab stuff. I can't imagine being clear headed in a fire or tornado situation. But having the photos online - yeah, I'm gonna do it.

And Poltzie, I love that you got Lawson a robe. I had so much in advance for my first kid. And I smock, so I would have had to grab all kinds of things. Not to mention heirloom clothing from my birth and christening. Geez!

Anonymous said...

We had a house fire three months ago and the only thing I grabbed was my wedding ring and my purse. I couldn't go for the photos because they were in the room that was on fire. Fortunately, they didn't burn -- just got smoky.

But that wedding ring . . . it's the one thing I'd be so very sad if I lost. And the only thing that compelled me to stay in a burning house until I found it. (I should mention that my best friend from 5th grade is a jeweler and she made the ring and so it has more than the normal sentimental value to me.)

Mayberry Magpie

Anonymous said...

Easy way to backup your photos if you keep them on your computer is to just use an online backup service. I use For $4.95/month it backs your computer up while you sleep - no work required. Set it and forget it.

Glad you posted this Flea. Even though I've evacuated all those times with you, I hadn't really thought of what I'd do in a fire. Installing those smoke detectors I bought a few months ago would probably be a good start.

abb said...

When my kids were born, I bought an expandable file for each of them. Over the years I've put all their "important" things - baptism certificates, report cards, newpaper mentions, very special cards...every parent knows the things I'm talking about.
Those 3 files are what I would grab - and they're in a place that I would be able to get them.
It goes without saying all the people and pets would be first.

abb said...

An addendum to my previous note.

When I was a young girl the house across the street from us caught fire. It completely burned down in about 20 - 30 minutes. 9 time out of 10 you only have time to get YOURSELF and your breathing LOVES out. So though I would grab those 3 folders if I might not be possible.

As far as pictures go, that's what's so wonderful about flikr, shutterbug and other picture storage places - you can store ALL your pics off site and safe!

abb again

Flea said...

Yeah bro! Get those things installed! I should probably check mine and see if they work.

Welcome Annie! And thanks for the tip on the accordion folder. My mom had one for each of us growing up, but I haven't done that for my kids. Bad mom! (slaps self)

Flea said...

Lori, don't you have a blog I can visit? It's fun getting to know bloggy friends and I CAN'T SEE YOU. :) Seriously, you and Marguerite need to start blogs.