Disaster Scenarios

I wrote this following the Four Mile Fire in Boulder.  I held off on publishing out of respect for the local people that lost their homes in the fire.  This piece is a reflection on my life and not connected to the fire itself.


I was placed in an interesting position recently when we were told that we might have to evacuate our house in a few hours.  There was a nearby fire and the forecast called for sustained winds blowing directly from the fire to our neighborhood.

We never know what we are actually going to do until we’re put in a situation.  This is why it pays not be placed in situations where we might make a decision we would regret!  Avoidance is an effective strategy for enhancing an ethical life.

There was no avoiding the fire – it ended up burning down close to 200 houses — so it was interesting to experience my reaction.

My first reaction was to wait and think a bit.  What’s in the house that would be a pain to replace.  I whacked my tax records, checkbooks and ID into a small suitcase.

Next up was borrowing Monica’s phone and wandering around all the rooms, with Lex in tow, and photographing everything that we have in the house.  If the place burned to the ground then that would help with the insurance claim.

Insurance gives me considerable piece of mind.  I have comprehensive policies that cover: my family’s health; general liability; our house; and any material assets.  I favor high deductible policies because my main concern is Black Swans.  I spend a lot on insurance but it’s worth it for peace of mind.

So with the house documented, Monica/Lex secure, and a bit of time to think… I couldn’t come up with much else that mattered to me.  That surprised me.  What surprised me further was a thought that I’d rather have a check in my hand for the value of my possessions than my possessions themselves.  It would be an inconvenience to have my life burnt to the ground but strangely, I felt relieved at the prospect.

This really drove home the value of insurance for me.  Also, be sure to read your exclusions/limitations on your policy.  In the past, I’ve caught myself taking comfort from a policy that didn’t cover what I thought it did!

Zero hardware reliance — the other thing that helped relax me is having set my life up so that I can run everything from any computer in the world.  I’m more efficient on my main machine but I have zero reliance on hardware.  If my home office was levelled then I could be up and running by tomorrow morning.  It took effort to achieve this but the feeling of relaxation, when faced with a disaster scenario, was an unexpected payoff.

The lessons so far — high deductible, comprehensive insurance and off-site backup for all digital info.  

I should probably scan up the documents that I felt necessary to put in my little suitcase.  Then I’d be in a position to grab my ID and walk out the door with my mobile phone.  

Holding hands with Lex & Monica… waiting to see what happens.