Slap in the Face Trial Run

Over the weekend I received a message from one of our readers.  As usual, I will not share the name of the writer nor specific details about their location, but I felt strongly that this would be a great opportunity to remind us all of a couple of very important aspects of living a peaceful life of preparedness. 


Her message was as follows:

Aug 13th, 12:59pm

There were horrible storms in our area yesterday. Winds clocked at about 75 mph, rain and lots of thunder and lightning. I try to be prepared but have never been in any type of situation that I really HAD to be prepared. I was home...the kids, our poodle and our cat and me...hubby had gone to his office because a window had broken out.

Anyways…I was sitting on the couch giving the baby his bottle when a bolt of lightning struck...I could have sworn it hit our house. It sounded like a bomb went off...then there was a bright pink flash of light. I grabbed the kids and dog...and ran outside. It was my first instinct. I didn't have anything...the clothes on our back...the slightly wet diaper on baby's rump. Right about the same time my husband drove up and I told him what happened. We didn't see smoke around our house but could smell it. He called the fire dept. right away and before they arrived we saw smoke coming from the house next door (thankfully a vacant home for sale). We put the kids in the car and I ran in our house to grab a few things.

We had no electricity because of the storm but I just grabbed a few things and stuffed them in a bag. I was so lucky to have a chance to go back into our house. Our house was fine...the lightning struck the house next door and it is a complete loss. It’s amazing how fast things happen...when you think you are prepared for things...but when they happen.

I look at this experience as a slap in the face trial run. Now I know! We are so beyond grateful that we are all ok and that we still have our home!”

My Response:

First of all, I'm SO grateful that you're OK as well!

Secondly, I want to thank you for sharing this experience with me as I think it will serve as a great reminder to ALL of us.  To that end, I wanted to share a couple of suggestions for some key lessons that we all need to learn and remember from something like this.

#1: Have a bug-out-bag ready to grab--include things that you discovered in this trial run that you wish you had had.  (diapers, wet wipes, a burner phone, cash, spare clothes, medications, pet food with collapsible dishes, spare leashes, copy of rabies shot verification for pets, etc.)

#2: Then PRACTICE evacuating your home as quickly as you had to do in this instance with grabbing the BOB as a part of that practice. When we are jarred by something as sudden as this, unless we actually have provided the brain with something to "recall" then we'll miss out on doing the steps we need to keep us safe--regardless of how much "stuff" we've stocked up on. The physical act of PRACTICING will help to cement these proactive things in your mind so that they will become instinctive in the midst of a sudden event like you experienced. So PRACTICE so that if something like this were to happen again, you will instinctively have what you need and not be so vulnerable again. The practice will not only create "muscle memory", but mental fortitude as well.

Going through the physical practice will also manifest the flaws in your plan to you. I’m a big believer that there are some flaws that can ONLY be found via practice runs.  For example, you may discover that perhaps the collars worn by your pets makes it difficult for you to manage them outside, so that might need to be altered.  Or perhaps you'll discover that your dog doesn't mind well and as such could actually make a bad scenario worse by worrying you when it runs off scared. These are just a couple of examples that come to my mind immediately as I read of your experience.  Regardless, the physical practice will definitely be a great teacher.

The best benefit of practicing though is that you will find that you now possess a great deal of peace—peace before and DURING a crisis—as a result of your newfound skills and supplies.  You simply can't put a price on the value of having a level head and a peaceful heart in the midst of a crisis.

Thanks again for sharing your experience with us!!!


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So that you've always got a

Preparedness Pro's picture
So that you've always got a phone to communicate with in the event you have to leave in a hurry and can't grab your cell phone. If it's already in your BOB, then you don't have to worry. Burner phones come with X number of minutes on them already. Just make sure you've got your key phone numbers already keyed into the phone.

We live in a bushfire prone

We live in a bushfire prone area and had to evacuate a couple of years ago. I prepared 3 lists and put them up at my front door. They were a five minute, 15 minute and 30 minute evacuation plans. It detailed what my kids needed to do in the event of needing to leave quickly and what they could take depending upon how much time they had. It kept me sane when I wasn't at home as I knew they were prepared. It is time to put them up again as bushfire season will be starting soon.

VERY timely advice!! I carry

VERY timely advice!! I carry a pretty extensive BOB in my vehicle at all times in case something were to happen on my travels to/from work or the occasional excursion into town. I guess I need to have a grab-n-go ready for when I am in the house. I have managed to stash copies of important documents at a sister's house in another town..

In our situation last week

In our situation last week where my friend and I had to bug in due to wild fires around us cutting off all of our escape routes, we were fine and had on hand what we needed for the two days that we were stranded there without power. Had it been more like a week, we might have run into some issues. We should have filled the gas tank on the car when we first got there so we could have kept our cell phones charged without fear of running out of gas. We also should have had more peanut putter and jugs of water on hand. Though we had not gotten to eating cereal yet. We should have had extra batteries for the flashlights and we should have cleaned and checked the works on the old oil lamp ahead of time. Our cell phones were our life line. Until the local radio station went off air, I was able to get it on my smart phone. We were unable to go on line to get news and could not make or receive phone calls. We were however able to continue texting with our husband's ad long as our phones had a charge. Also, I learned to be sure my laptop had a full charge. Even though I was not able to go on line with it, I was able to plug my phone into it and keep my phone powered until the laptop went dead. The last thing I will do differently when we go back later this week, I will be taking ALL of my med school with me, not just enough for a week.

So happy to hear that you had

Preparedness Pro's picture
So happy to hear that you had the benefit of this "dress rehearsal" and learned lots as a result. That's one of the reasons why I used to suggest certain practice events previously. But there was so little participation so I just focused on other things. Sounds like a solar generator would have come in handy too for you. Or you could look into a spare battery. I highly recommend the thing that Costco has for pumping up the tire, recharging a car battery, etc. It was only $70 or so and it's already saved my bacon a couple of times! It would have helped with your cell phone issue this time around. And since it's multifunctional, it's not a waste of space or money. :-)

I made bug out bags for all

I made bug out bags for all of us years ago. Every place we were stationed presented a different hazard, earthquake, hurricane, you name it. WE also have a bug out bag for the cats. It's just an essential for peace of mind. Front closet by front door, is a good place for them,although I have every one keep their bag in their car.

Thank you very much for that

Thank you very much for that wakeup call. Winter is fast approaching here and I need to go through the winter, in-the-car, emergency kit. Stranded at home is one thing, but on the road is something totally different!!

Wow! I feel I've just had a

Wow! I feel I've just had a wakeup slap myself! Thank you all for sharing. I have physical limitations and live in a 3 story home with ONE tiny closet of storage space on the first floor where I spend most of my time. We have a bug out bag but it's on the 2nd floor due to storage problems. Where would be the best place for it? As I read the story, I kept picturing myself lumbering painfully up the stairs to get that bag and trying to save my 2 dogs as well if my husband was not home. I have a lot to think about now. Maybe the basement would be a better place for it.

I have been outside and had

I have been outside and had lightening hit nearby me very suddenly and it does sound like a bomb going off. Very scary! This is an excellent reminder that often times emergencies happen very suddenly with little to no planning time.

A note on burn phones: be

A note on burn phones: be sure it works in both your home location and your bug out location. Points between would be good as well. Don't trust the provider's so-called "coverage maps". Take the actual phone you'll be using to your important spots and check for yourself. Even now in 2015 there are surprisingly large large dead spots out there. Case in point, I recently took some flood relief supplies to an area only 4 hours away and my regular phone wouldn't work in many places around my destination. I was surprised to say the least. Although certainly not a metro area, it is a fairly well populated area with major highways, chain stores, etc. I expect large dead spots in remote areas, but was not expecting it in that area.


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