I ask this question for several reasons:
1. This week we noticed that our lights in our home were dimming frequently one evening so we called the neighborhood police and fire department and they dispatched two men to our home to investigate. They noticed the same, especially when we engaged a few 220V appliances, such as clothes dryer and electric ovens, and they suggested we NOT stay in the house overnight as there could be an electrical fire without our even knowing about it. I called our local friend-contractor, and he came over and checked several things and summoned a licensed electrician to our home the next morning. My wife decided to spend the night at our son's nearby home, but I chose to stay, "sleeping" (HA) on the family room sofa with flashlight, cell phone, fire extinguisher, etc. close by in case there was a sudden fire in the electrical control panel in adjacent laundry room. I recorded the local fire and police department phone numbers in my cell phone in case I needed to make an immediate call. Needless to say, I was up all night, walking about the house, and outside, checking to see if I smelled smoke, noticed anything suspicious. We have an alarm system with smoke, heat detection and door-entrance alarms, but I was not going to depend entirely on these, as it might be too late. We also have a stand-by 20KW generator out back to supply electrical service to our home,so I wasn't concerned about sudden power loss.
The electrician arrived at 9:00 the next morning and began a series of checks (incoming power in our 200 AMP service, the control panel, electrical connection on the roof, etc.), but found nothing suspicious, so he requested service from the local power board. The technician arrived in late afternoon and performed a number of checks on the roof, incoming meter control on side of house and street-side transformer and discharge wires, only tightening a few connections and replaced a neutral fixture. We haven't had any further light-dimming problems since, so, hopefully, the problem - where ever it originated - has been resolved. We hope!
2. Which brings me to my questions: If you had a fire, or something else that would require you to evacuate your home suddenly, what would you take with you? (family photos, computer, photography equipment, passport, wallet, essential medicines, household pets, insurance documents, etc.)
Not knowing what might happen during the night, I decided to park my auto in neighbor's driveway in case emergency vehicles needed to access mine. I took some family photo albums, photography equipment, laptop computer and external hard drive, a few books (my favorite Bible), a metal safe box where I keep a few essential documents, and put them in the trunk of my auto at the neighbor's house.
3. I had time to think about this, and take some precautionary measures, but what if something catastrophic like this occurred without warning - what would I gather in my house to protect before evacuating the premises?
What plan - if any - do you have for the same?
I'm quite late in responding as I'm more than a month behind on MRI items I wanted to attend to. Sorry.
I'm glad your predicament had a happy ending! I can imagine your anxiety trying to sleep but your brain going a thousand miles an hour imagining all the what if's...
It sounds like you did all you could with little time to prepare. Congratulations on your clear thinking -- great job!
22 years ago I actually had about 30 seconds to decide what to take out of the house. I came home from work to find the house filled with smoke but no actual flames that I could see. I stupidly went in to try to get the portable phone (no cell phones then) but I wasn't able to go very far. There were no other houses around, so I drove almost a mile down the road to the town garage to have them call the fire department. Back I went to the house. I had left the side door wide open in my panic, and still didn't see any flames, so I decided to go in. I went right to the living room, opened that front door wide, and literally threw my photo albums, riding boots, saddles and fire safe document box out the door. I could not get upstairs nor into the rest of the house (too smoky and a little hot) and the approaching sirens kind of jolted me to get out of the house, so I sat outside and hyperventilated until the fire department arrived shortly thereafter. It was a chimney fire caused by the landlord not cleaning the flue properly. We had a woodstove but never used the fireplace and apparently they shared a flue or something like that. I didn't have a breakdown until my boyfriend arrived home about 1/2 hour after the fire trucks. Luckily no one was injured, "stuff" was somewhat replaced, but it took a good 4 months for me to sleep through the night without waking in a panic that the house was going to burn down. Lessons learned: 1) Be very generous and grateful to the volunteer firemen who are local people putting themselves at risk for you as you never know when you will need them; 2) Never open the door to a house that is apparently on fire! This is where I messed up, but again, I was totally panicking and could not think clearly; 3) Renter's insurance isn't what you think it is, so read the fine print in the "full replacement value" section! And 4) It's only stuff -- in the long run it doesn't matter, only people and pets do. Be safe, everyone!
Thanks for your comments; glad your situation worked out OK. We too had a chimney fire but ours was due to overheating of the firebox at top of the exhaust pipe just below the roof line. Without sufficient ventilation, when a wood fire gets too hot this can happen, and not always due to creosote build-up in the chimney. We never burned pine wood, as it contains too much resin (fuel), for this reason.
Lesson I learned from this: I bring my garden hoses inside during the winter because if they have water in them and it freezes - it was cold the night of our fire - you can't use your hoses to suppress the fire. Fortunately, I had done this, rushed to the basement, coupled the hose to outdoor faucet and sprayed water on the roof before the firetruck arrived and fully extinguished the fire. We did not suffer any internal, nor roof damage.
We also recently conducted an inventory of our property value (house and contents) and increased our insurance coverage (replacement costs). We also subscribed to a "Personal Liability Umbrella Policy" (automobile and personal residential liability), which we had never had just to be safe.
Hope this is helpful also.
Wow, what an experience. We were evacuated during a forest fire (the so called Pebble Beach fire) shortly after we moved here. Thankfully our house was spared but 43 others were not. We realized that we needed to have a go box or boxes of things we love and have sentimental as well as real value near the cars in the garage. These boxes are stuffed with things that a bystander would never see as worth anything but to us they are everything.
Here's hoping we never need to evacuate with them.
It must have been torture to be evacuated and helpless to do anything! I'm glad it was a happy ending. Your go box is a wonderful idea! I never thought of that and thanks for mentioning it. In our new house the office is right next to the garage door so that would be a perfect spot to keep one. I promise you I will be doing that soon, especially for sentimental items. I do have two fire-proof safes that I would toss out the office door if need be. In the same vein, I also have 3 pieces of older luggage fully packed (one for each of us) that can be thrown into the car (or out the window!) at a moment's notice. In it are clothes, shoes, spare eyeglasses, a few days worth of prescriptions (allergy & migraine medicines mostly), cash, and copies of driver's licenses, passports, social security cards, birth certificates, and insurance papers (life, car and house). I need to update the papers occasionally but I'm forced to do that as my son is 11 so I have to keep current sizes or a little bigger in his suitcase. This forces me to look at what's in the bags at least every 6 months. It may seem a pain to do, but if we ever need to take these bags, the time spent will be priceless.
And I agree, let's hope we never need them!
I have all our valuable documents scanned and put them (the scans) on flash drives in two safety deposit boxes. I also (perhaps trusting them too much) have uploaded the scanned documents to the cloud (whatever and wherever that is) the same information.
But most valuable is a document that my attorneys gave me: It is called "What I need to do first," and lists the following
1. Information on what has to be done immediately and all contact points
2. Ditto on what needs to be done in the first month and contact points, and
3. Longer term things that need to be done.
Most of these are the kind of things that follow a death (eeek) but might also be applicable if you need to start over.
That document from your attorneys now has me thinking; thank you. The flash drives in the safety deposit boxes are also excellent suggestions -- I appreciate your sharing these crucial ideas as they get me moving to do something before I need them! This MRI exchange had me go through the "luggage" upstairs 5 minutes ago and I found I needed to change out some of the clothing for my son so I did that. I had forgotten that I put a towel and washcloth in each piece of luggage wrapped around the toiletries. I guess I am preparing for a large natural disaster where we would have to be on our own for a while, not necessarily a trip to the local Marriott in case of a house fire. My husband has always accused me of overpacking but in this case, I'd rather have more! Thanks for the suggestions.
I may not work for everyone but it works for us. After the 89 quake we had a prep kit in each car, but as the memory of that shaker faded we threw most of the stuff away. It takes a big event to remind me at least of things I need to do, and why.
As for the legal stuff from the Attorney, it took us nine months to gather all my wife's fathers stuff, some of it buried literally and other things lost, to prepare his death tax return. The IRS always wins, even though they are a damnable bunch! Anyway, we do not have a cat anymore so that's one less thing to sweat over.
jerrycoin, I never liked dealing with insurance companies and still don't. But it is crucial to make sure one has proper coverage. I thought I had it when I was a renter but apparently not! I am a lot wiser now (and older, too!) and do not take homeownership and insurnace coverage for granted. I wish everyone a "safe ending"!
For those in or travelling to earthquake prone areas here is a live site of current seismic activity. Since I'm going to Crete next month, I plan to monitor it, especially after a major quake in Calabria, Italy.
15 years ago, I was faced with this exact dilemma as a gasoline powered weed trimmer (yes - I was an idiot) had been put in the basement in the far corner away from the gas furnace and gas water heater. A heavy rain cause the older house with stone foundation to flood a foot of water which leached out the trimmer's gas (which floats on water) and become ignited by one of the pilot lights. BOOM!!! as no smoke detectors were needed (LOL now, but not back then).
In my scurry - save the wife, kids, and pets, taking nothing else but the clothes we had on. Fortunately, not much damage as the fire was extinguished rather quickly (me with a garden hose and the FD arriving minutes later). Since then, sold the house but retained the lesson learned, I now have the following :
Bought a large 2-hour fireproof safe that contains most of the family's film negatives and digital photos on backup DVDs and external hard drives. Safe also contains other important documents such as passports, birth certificates, baptism certs, car titles, etc. However, it is now jammed full, so plan B:
B: I have a large dorm-styled refrigerator (I gutted the unnecessary interior) in my basement's 5-foot tall crawl space (gravel based floor with great drainage in case of water flooding). The fridge is surrounded on all five sides with a layer of cement building blocks to withstand the heat of a potential fire. Total cost about $30. Stored inside are the "less frequently needed" documents such as old tax returns, my kids baby shoes, diplomas, additional photo negatives, and other keepsakes that would be hard to lose if another fire.
I think it's probably easy for a long-time (forever) apartment dweller, especially since I do all transactions online. My cat (like your pets Pingreeman and WesleyWC, except that of course I am the pet since I have a cat) comes first so the carrier is near the door. I'm on a third floor with a balcony, so we could use that if need be and I have pillowcases at the ready in case I need to lower her in the cat carrier. If I had the chance to get out then I'd grab my wallet which has my passport, credit cards and health info, but seriously, nothing else matters to me.