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Small Talk: In case of emergency, bring glass

I’m thinking of making my children each an earthquake pack for Christmas.

I researched it and it’s kind of a pain to compile, which should make it seem like something thoughtful rather than industrial, right? As I am collecting the necessary items, I naturally asked myself, “Why aren’t I making one of these for myself?” None of my answers were good — basically, “Yeah, yeah. I will.”

I do love the idea of an earthquake backpack, though. I was using plastic trashcans before. But the pack helps solve the “Where the heck should one store one’s earthquake supplies?” issue. Outside, the critters will get into it, from spiders and moths to possibly raccoons, plus rain, mold, etc. Inside, it might be buried in rubble. So perhaps hang it by an exit door? But, where does one find a backpack to match one’s couch? And of course, one plans to grab it as one makes a hasty exit over heaving ground, but I am old enough to know that might just slip my mind, mid-quake.

Then I realized my husband had just completed the perfect solution. He dug his own wine cave around the side of the house. No, not a cellar — a cave. He began digging horizontally where a fence was caving in. It is on the north side of our house, shaded by our neighbor’s house, and gets just the briefest of sun exposure. Once he got started, he just kept digging until he hit solid clay, which made an opening about 5-feet-by-4-feet.

I’m not certain when he decided it should be a wine cave, or why. Still, he lined it, insulated it, roofed it and put in racks and a thermometer. He then connected a motion-sensor light and put some lovely doors on it. And by George, it holds a steady temperature of about 55 degrees.

Neither my husband nor I have a palate worth buying expensive wine for. Instead, he indulged his several oenophile friends, who had great fun guiding him as he stocked the cave. So while it’s mostly filled with wine now, I realized there is plenty of room for an earthquake backpack or two.

And, of course, if we drink up the wine while waiting for emergency services, we’ll care very little about the earthquake anyway. It’s a clear win-win … win-wine?

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer with an alternative approach to disasters. Contact her at [email protected]