The family was in the house yesterday, windows open, just relaxing. There were the occasional sirens heading one way or another on the main street outside our subdivision, which was totally normal for a Saturday afternoon. What wasn't normal was the approaching siren coming into the neighborhood. I happened to look out the front window just as a fire truck went by with the sirens and lights going. Several things happened within the span of literally just a few seconds, 10 at most: I thought I smelled smoke but my initial reaction was "psychosomatic", but I didn't blow it off, I still started to look for any smoke, My oldest came out of the "office" (term used loosely to describe "the room in which the family computer resides") saying they smelled smoke and then, My oldest pointed to the window facing the neighbor's house/back yard and said something to the affect of "Is the neighbor's house on fire?" My wife was in the entry way and said, "Everyone get on shoes, we may need to get out", My wife also said "Go get the safe", which has important papers, passports, SS cards, etc., On the way to where we keep the safe I had to snap at my youngest to quit asking questions and get her shoes on now. I grabbed the safe and my two encrypted USB thumb drives as they were in the same place instead of in my pocket and headed back to the front door. We felt we might have to leave, but we had a few minutes before it was a "sure thing" and so we weren't yet out of the house. At that point the fire truck went back out of the neighborhood with lights and sirens off. Less than a minute had gone by. My wife asked if maybe it wasn't a fire and suggested something else so, I stopped, took a breath, set the safe down (it's a fire proof document safe, not a gun cabinet and in retrospect, would it have been fine if I'd left it?) and stepped into the back yard. A quick glance over the fence showed smoke billowing from the neighbor's...grill. At that point I walked back inside, slid my shoes off and informed the family that the house was unlikely to burn down and that the smoke, which really was going gangbusters at this point, was coming from the grill. I put the safe away (but still have the drives in my pocket). I mentioned this in a PM with one of the mods, and called it a failure. Their response was: No, you didn't fail. You got or would have gotten the most important things out of harms way. Everything else is replaceable or at least not worth dying over. Sure, we would have lost photos, tax records, electronics (man, we have SO much "backed up" locally on-site but so little backed up elsewhere), clothes, the few firearms that I've never taken fishing, camping gear, water and food, not to mention all the little things you take for granted. My radios (HF gear and antenna...UHF/VHF are in the cars), my work laptop, my favorite soap (yes, I have a favorite, hand-made, locally sourced, head-to-toe soap), what little BOB gear we have, technically everything. None of that really matters though in the long run. That's why we have insurance and sure, we'd have to fight to get everything replaced but eventually it would all come out in the wash. Yes, I'm sure they would drop us the minute the final check cleared but it'd work out in the long run. We could have driven off, left the flames going in the rear-view mirror and holed up in a hotel for a few days until we got an apartment. We've got enough to get clothes to get us through and food, etc. So, as a failure, it could have been dramatically worse (and yes, I thought about this all day afterwards and it kept me up some last night). What can I, should I, will I do to make this less of a possibility in the future? What are you prepared for right now? If I said get up and take no more than 1 minute to get out of the house and lose everything you don't take with you, are you okay with that? Things I'm doing: BOBs - I've started them over and over and over. Sometimes I get through the build for everyone and sometimes I don't. They get raided, they don't get swapped for each season, the kids are growing like weeds and they were NOT ready for a grab and go. That's going to change. Electronics/Data - I will be making much greater use of cloud, but on my terms. I use Linux and with Dropbox (Windows too), I can encrypt the data before it ever leaves my machine. I'm going to be going on a scanning frenzy and pushing ALL of the important documents to the cloud. Data - I may or may not be investing in some AWS space or private co-location space to run my own OwnCloud instance. Not sure which direction but AWS is going to be expensive where as the cost doesn't change if I throw my own server in a rack somewhere. I can put multiple TB of space in 2U for a lot less than Amazon (and I know I can encrypt it all). Lists - I will be making some lists based on how long I have to get out of the house. 1 minute - Basically just the clothes on my back (or PJs in the night) and the bag on the way out the door. My phone is either always on my person or on the nightstand right next to me. 5 minutes - 1 minute items plus the safe, the firearms, the work laptop and everyone's phones. 10 minutes - 5 minute items plus the long term MountainHouse (just in case), the "Taj Mahal" family tent, both 25lb propane tanks, the heater (winter), some of the 1gal water, the kids laptops (in their bags) and sleeping bags, machete (probably ought to be on the 5 minute list...don't want to lose a "@Bear Original" that probably can't be replaced...then again maybe I can talk him into another one if mine was lost in a house fire...hmmm). 30 minutes - 10 minute items plus whatever else we can grab and get into the cars, absolutely including the back hard-drive(s). That needs to be a prioritized list and will take some time and is kind of beyond the scope of this list. 1 hour+ - All of the above plus whatever I can squish into the cars. Drills and dry runs. We did okay from a "get out of the house NOW" perspective given that our house wasn't actively on fire. Not so good from a "holy cow the house is on fire" point of view. Push comes to shove you leave without shoes and socks. Push really comes to shove you leave in your underwear! Pre-staging - While this is similar to the BOB, it's different. If I know I'm going to want to grab tent and sleeping bags, they need to be in the front of the shelving units, not the back. Propane staged closer to the garage door than the house door. A go bag for tools needs to be prepped to allow for quick filling of specific tools. Might be a good idea to leave a pair of shoes, neatly, in the hallway by the front door (need to find a way that won't drive the wife nuts). Several trips up and down the stairs when minutes count is counterproductive and just chews up time. I don't know if this was meant as a wake-up call to everyone else, a call to arms, a request for suggestions or just cathartic for me but I did feel like I needed to get it out there. Yesterday was a wake-up call for me for sure. I'll be watching the Panthers/Seahawks game today but I'm going to be screwing around less and less. I don't need to let fear rule my life, that's not what I'm saying. But if I'm prepared, I won't have as much to fear in the first place.