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© Joan Currie

Be Prepared: The Motto of the Boy Scouts of America

My grandmother loved to tell the story of the television set blowing up after being hit by lightning because she neglected to shut the windows during an electrical storm. Other relatives followed up with really gruesome tales of friends or distant cousins charred beyond recognition from being hit by lightning on the eighteenth green, out sailing, or up on the roof.

In addition to lightning, nearly every natural disaster since time began has happened to someone my family knew intimately. After sharing all the grizzly details of the poor unsuspecting victim’s demise, someone would conclude with, “That’s a corker,” and move on to the next person they knew who had bought the farm.

My relatives’ acceptance of the maws of death appearing at any moment sparked my interest in risk management. I pack a small emergency kit whenever I set out into the wilds and although I have never had occasion to use it, I take it all the same as the best laid plans in hiking, like life, can go awry.