Submitted November 6, 2008

The home photo album can never be replaced

Tom,

I have survival training and the kits you offer are pretty good. I also carry a gun and my medical kit is sufficient to sterilize and put sutures in a wound, administer generic antibiotics (I have a doctor who prescribes a bottle for me once a year) or implant a temporary filling in a broken tooth, but that's just me. I also have a self-contained battery-operated jump starter for my car, two cans of fix-a-flat in the trunk, and a five-gallon can of gas (in an "approved" container) in my garage. Generally speaking, the people who suffered most in Katrina were either too poor or too stupid to plan ahead. Most of your customers, people with the resources to buy a kit in the first place, are people who can leave and go someplace where there's running water and electricity and food if their homes must be completely evacuated.

What I'm about to suggest is a piece of advice, rather than an item, that you might consider passing along to your customers when you sell them either of your kits.

In a hurricane or a fire or a flood people can lose all of their possessions. As catastrophic as that might be, almost everything a person owns can be replaced. You can get a new car or a new sofa or a new complete set of the Beatles on CD. You can even come up with a reasonable replacement for your wife's grandmother's china. But one thing that can't be replaced for any amount of money is the home photo album. In terms of "being prepared", people should have all family photos and home movies in a single place, preferably in trunks or boxes that can be grabbed at a moment's notice. When all of the pictures of your baby being born or your 12 year old kid graduating from the sixth grade are ruined, there is no replacement. In my house, if I have to leave I'm grabbing a full-sized duffel bag quite similar to your kits and a single storage trunk that has all of my families pictures, home movies (now on DVD) and important papers (birth certificates, titles to my cars, banking records, a database with every phone number of every person I might ever want to contact, etc.)

Maybe you could find a manageable-sized trunk with appropriate space for some video tapes, some picture albums, and some hanging files? Perhaps something made of semi-transparent plastic with a water-tight lid would do the trick if its interior was properly organized. Could be a good seller.

I have a feeling from the tone of your letter that you're a good guy. So even if you don't sell the trunk yourself, a little note inserted in your current kits to that effect might really be the one thing that makes all the difference in the world to someone in a future disaster.

Hope that helps.

Tim Goodwin

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