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Failed SHTF test...

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by DarkLight, Jan 17, 2016.

  1. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

    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.
  2. runswithdogs

    runswithdogs Monkey

    Why not store copies of important data, photo's, tax info etc on a USB flash drive that can taken with you or be stored in the fireproof safe instead of the cloud?

    Not that I dont trust storing my data on a remote location controlled by honey badgers for all I know....:cautious:
  3. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

    Good points and a lot of that will be on the encrypted USB drives. I'm talking about encrypted in the cloud and I'm confident enough in what I'm doing that it won't be easily accessible and would take the resources of a "state" to break the encryption (or a hammer on my knees) to my mortgage documents.

    The encryption I use is fronted by CryptKeeper and encrypts in on my drive then copies the encrypted files into DropBox. Nothing in the cloud is unencrypted.
  4. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

    A couple of thoughts right off the top of my head.
    1. I would have that safe bolted down, because if you can just grab it and go, so can a thief that might get into the house. The safe is fireproof....leave it and let it do its job. You have bigger things to focus on.
    2. Consider having your important docs on encrypted stick's and place in a safe deposit box at the bank or provide one to extended family to "hold" for you..... for off site storage. In a grid down situation.... the Cloud does you no good.
    3. Consider maintaining a storage unit off-site (unless you have the property to have separation from your home), and maintain a set of totes that can be recovered easily. Have a redundant set of everything, which will enable you to not have all of your eggs in one basket.
    4. Cache can be your friend.
    5. Set up family drill's on "what to do" upon key words such as "fire", "earthquake", "intruders" and so on......
  5. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

  6. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    When you say bolt down the safe are you implying using brackets to secure it to the floor? I have a fireproof safe that looks like a fat suitcase. I do not know how I would secure it.

    Our camping type stuff is in a shed detached from the house. We have all the stoves, some lanterns, tents etc in there so we would have shelter if needed. Shelter would be the most costly if your house burned. Food and clothing is easy to come by. Because I live with this fear every summer, I have gone over and over the what if a fire happened. The family knows to get out, just leave, we can replace everything but you. As for photos, if you are like most people you have shared photos with family and friends over the years so there are copies of your photos out there that could be copied and replaced what you lost.

    @DarkLight you packed a lot into your first post... need to think on this.
  7. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I eat vegetables. My friends are not vegetables.

    When you get some seriously useful knowledge out of a test like that, it's definitely not a failure.
    arleigh, chelloveck, Dont and 4 others like this.
  8. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    I agree and what is striking is that each of the family members each reacted when they smelt smoke. There was no sitting around assuming all was fine, instead they all alerted each other and acted. IMO that is the first important step. Knowing the family is going to be proactive is a key to success in any bug out.
    arleigh, chelloveck and DarkLight like this.
  9. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Typically, fire safes are DESIGNED to be mounted. Both of mine are designed that way. The small fireproof document safe has four holes in the bottom or backside, that can be seen from inside only. (You drill though those spots for anchors) tap con concrete screws work very well, or you can use lead shield anchors. The safe must be open to mount or remove anchors.
    My cube safe even came with the anchors. The mounting holes are very easy to find from inside, and show where the concrete inner lining was left thin for that purpose. Any questions, shoot me a pic or two of the inside, and I will walk you through it. A safe, not anchored, is just a heavy purse. They will take it intact, and crack it elsewhere, with a full shop of tools. 1453061864279-918427986.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2016
  10. tc556guy

    tc556guy Monkey++

    Does your situation allow for having a trailer of some sort pre-loaded with all of that stuff so you could just hook and go?
    DarkLight and chelloveck like this.
  11. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey++

    For storing data, if thumb drives are to small capacity-wise, a USB backup hard drive could be used. I have one that is about 1/4" thick, and about the same size as a laptop hard drive. It's 250 GB, but I'm sure they make them with much higher capacity. USB sticks are pretty limited for data capacity.

    I would never store anything on the "cloud". Sorry, just don't trust it.
    DarkLight and chelloveck like this.
  12. runswithdogs

    runswithdogs Monkey

    You can easily get USB sticks that are 128GB (maybe bigger ones but I was looking at 128's & there's lots available)
    DarkLight likes this.
  13. Flight-ER-Doc

    Flight-ER-Doc Monkey

    You can get thumb drives with at least 256GB capacity these days. I have a 128GB I carry around that was only around $25 from Amazon, I think....it's been a few months.
    DarkLight likes this.
  14. hitchcock4

    hitchcock4 Monkey

    Hi DarkLight,
    First, thanks for posting as I would say that we all learned some from your post.

    Encryption is always good. Having 2, 3 or 4 copies of the most important data (in different locations!) is crucial.

    Regarding data in the cloud -- if you have a lot and you have looked at Amazon for their "glacier" service, then you should also check out BackBlaze B2. It is still in beta but I would suggest you sign up. They are cheaper than Amazon and BackBlaze has been around a while (just not as well known as Amazon.
    As shown on their website:
    For B2 Cloud Storage, the price is simple: $0.005 per gigabyte per month. That's half a penny per gigabyte per month.
    The first 10 GB of storage is free
    I have no affiliation with BackBlaze other than having signed up a month ago. Here is the sign up for their site B2 Cloud Storage: The Lowest Priced Online File Storage

    EDIT: I should mention that like Amazon Glacier -- Backblaze is cheap to store information -- but it is not like DropBox! It is designed for uploads (mostly). If you ever need to restore the data -- it will cost you. Look into the costs. But the way I see it -- if I have lost data, and it is stored here for free, then I am willing to pay extra to get it back.
    DarkLight likes this.
  15. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey++

    Looks like I'm a little behind the times.
    With 256 GB, I could just about store an image file for backup purposes, at least with a laptop. Didn't realize they were that cheap.
    Thanks @Flight-ER-Doc.
    DarkLight likes this.
  16. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    I am with the idea it would be good to have an external shed with gear that is expendable enough that if it were broken into was not difficult to replace .
    Sleeping bags and spare clothing camping gear ect, scavenge through yard sales and swap meets for old ice chests for storing things that will keep critters and moisture out .
    It doesn't have to be fancy as a matter of fact it would be best if it appeared neglected.
    Probably a good place to store the generator too.
    Even a good utility trailer might serve well for this .
    DarkLight likes this.
  17. shaman

    shaman Monkey

    Just a FYI: You can now get 1TB of storage for $65-- a wee bit bigger than a USB drive, but still quite useful.

    This would be a WD My Passport Drive. They have up to 3 TB.
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