Lessons Learned

 My friend, Chris, who recently lost her home to a fire wrote a “Lessons Learned” post for all of us. See her words below.
There are a lot of lessons that can be learned from our recent experience.
There are the standards like “don’t take anything for granted”, or “live every day to the fullest”.
Those are certainly true!
But I think for the gun/prepper communities (and yes we were both gunnies and preppers) there are deeper lessons to learn.

We are not wealthy people. In fact at this moment we have no source of income! I say that not so anyone will take pity on us or feel sorry for us, but so that those reading this can fully understand (maybe lol) or thoughts or decisions.
Last October I was unexpectedly laid off from a position as a manager at a Dallas, TX based pharmaceutical company. It was a good paycheck and I had been there 7 years. I had not been truly happy there however for about the last 4 years. I felt I was called to do more than sit at a desk and read reports. So, in October my husband and I prayed and felt that I was being called into midwifery. To become a midwife I was going to be required to be in a apprenticeship, unpaid, for 2 years. My husband had been staying at home with the boys and managing our small farm as we worked toward self reliance. He also on the side built custom knives.
With the layoff came a severance package. We sat down, figured our bills and expenses and said ok we can do this. We also about that time received a dividend from some stocks we owned.

Around the about Dec/Jan time frame we determined that we should finish purchasing the firearms we had been looking at. We purchased most things in 3’s as we have three sons we hoped to pass things down to.

Jump forward to May 2nd. We had a house stocked with at least 12 months of non-perishable foods. We had clothes that had been collected for some while for the boys up to the age of about 12 years (the oldest is 4). We also had guns. Lots of guns ;-). The total was probably close to 35 in the house. Some rifles, some shotguns and some pistols. Of which we got out 2 shotguns (survived the fire) and 7 pistols which were either on our persons or grabbed on the way out. Then of course there was the ammo, magazines, holsters and all the reloading supplies. There was also some cash and a few precious metals.
All these things were to be there for the long term. Either to get us through for a year of my schooling or as a heritage to our sons.
That of course doesn’t include the irreplaceable things like the door post the kids height was measured on, the family cookbook, the baby books and other family items.

Lessons Learned?
1) Listen to your gut in any situation! If your instinct says something is wrong, listen! If I hadn’t been persistent when I smelled smoke things may have had a different ending.
2) Keep a well stocked get home bag in your vehicle(s). The bags we had in the house were lost. The bags in the car were and continue to be lifesavers. The temperature dropped 30 degrees the day of the fire. My husband was able to get a wool blanket from one of the cars and keep warm that day. This applies to kids too. I had a stocked diaper bag for the boys with extra clothes. Also- if you have pets it might not be a bad idea to keep a few emergency supplies in your bags for them.
3) Keep the cars as full of fuel as possible. We were able to pull to a neighbors property, but if this had been a wild fire we would have had to evacuate the area.
4) Get a fireproof safe for your legal documents and cash/precious metals. We did not have one. It was something we always said yeah we should get but never did. We lost a fair amount of cash  but our metals were spared.
5) Consider having some firearms/ammo/mags stored outside your house underground. Again something we talked a lot about but just never got around to.
6) Same as # 5 for food.

We have grown closer as a family unit because of this. We are more in touch with what is truly important. We are and will continue to rebuild and establish a new normal for ourselves. I will be returning to my midwifery studies. And we will continue to work on the farm and garden. We will eventually rebuild on this property. Maybe not in the same spot on this land.

11 thoughts on “Lessons Learned

  1. I love Chris’ attitude of perseverance. While heartbreaking, her attitude is refreshing.

    One of my friends lost all of his preps with the High Park fire last May, and he’s currently in the process of rebuilding everything. It’s hard, but he’s got the same can-do attitude.

  2. Excellent points to consider. I’ve been putting off getting a fire safe for too long. I think it’s time to delay a little gratification with the next boomstick purchase and get a secure place to store them. Also, I’m seriously thinking about the underground storage area/storm shelter. We have a nice, large shop with a concrete foundation that would be perfect for such a place.

  3. We have been praying for this family since AGirl first mentioned it…

    One thing we invested, yes – invested, in was a large, quality, and somewhat expensive fire-proof gun safe… there are some things that are not replaceable due to rarity, cost, lack of insurance, or being no longer available to purchase such as some of our semi-auto rifles during the 1994-2004 assault weapons ban… we also keep certain papers and other item in there…

    The advice about keeping things outside your home is good… we keep some items in our barn and elsewhere… there is a reason many “root cellars” were bulit separate from the main house on farms a hundred years ago, the biggest being fire as many were heated by wood stoves or fireplaces and the root cellar was kept separate from the home…

    Wishing you all the best as you work through this trial…

    Dann in Ohio

  4. Another point is to have insurance riders for your weapons. You can do specific ones for that, jewelry, fine art, etc. And they are reasonable prices. just sayin…

  5. I’ve had Chris and her family in my prayers. I know they will get through this terrible incident. What is truly important is not the stuff it’s that you have your family and no one got hurt.

    OLD NFO has a point, one must make sure to have insurance riders on guns, jewelry ect….. whether you rent or own a home/apartment.

  6. She’s got some great points! And one thing I’ve noticed about the gunny community…not only do y’all tend to rally around someone when the S Hits their personal F, but the individuals themselves tend to not wallow in self-pity and moan and complain and wonder why nobody else told them to prepare or to not _____, or scream and cry and demand that the .gov step in and Make Things Right Again. There may be a period of shock/sorrow/horror, but hey, we’re human…but pretty quickly a gunny will take a deep breath, grab their jockstrap (or lacy g-string, for the ladies), and stand back up on their own two feet. Usually with the assistance of willing and un-asked-for hands reaching out to help. And as long as you have your life, Life will go on. Things can be replaced.

    The “Other Side”? They have victimhood.

    I know which group I’d much rather belong to.

  7. Her attitude is amazing and our prayers notwithstanding, she is providing an example to her family and to us, as to how to cope when life doesn’t go as planned, and in ways more hard, then anyone expects. We all don’t deal with hardshop and stress so well.

    BigBro lost his home, and pets after a chimney fire. They were not home at the time. I remember that too well.

    Take heed of her words, learn from everyone on here. We are community, we are survivors.

    Thanks , A Girl, for sharing her story.

  8. Thank you very much for this. Your advice is very appreciated. Has your insurance company asked for any special documentation about the things you lost?

  9. Just some further thoughts… we have insurance… both riders on our homeowners for certain items and separate insurance for firearm coverage… BUT, I can not emphasize the importance of investing in a quality gun safe…

    If our house had burnt down between 1994 and 2004, insurance aside… we could not have legally or financially replaced many of our firearms and 15,17, 20, and 30 round magazines… if you currently live in a state with magazine capacity limits… you can not replace the “grandfathered” full capacity magazines if lost in a fire or theft… if Kalifornia passes the ban on all new detachable magazine rifles which just passed their senate… you could not legally replace your AR or Mini-14 if your house burned down…

    A quality gun safe is expensive, but it is also an investment… insurance does not cover everything, nor can it replace many things…

    Also, read the fine print on your insurance… many insurance riders and policies for jewelry and firearms have limitations on theft verses loss due to flooding, fire, etc. and you’d be surprised how many folks I know who have itemized their firearms or jewelry when they bought and set up the policy two years ago… but haven’t added the three guns they purchased last year… if it’s not on the list, it’s not covered…

    Finally, unless someone has found really cheap insurance… as we have looked… it may not cost much for a gun or two to be added, but we are at the point in our family where it would cost almost $2,000 per year to fully insure all our firearms and accessories which are now valued at tens of thousands of dollars… and guess what, a couple of ARs maybe with an Aimpoint Red Dot optics and quality weapon lights, three or four handguns, a shotgun, and a couple of .22s… and you’ve got thousands of dollars of firearms… not including the dozen or so 30-round magazines you have that would now cost hundreds of dollars to replace…

    FYI… the best price we’ve found is through the NRA’s Armscare Plus by Lockton Insurance… and it still runs us almost $600 per year… for the current value of our firearms… without accessories…

    Just some more food for thought… I really believe if you can put hundreds or a thousand dollars a year into insurance, you’d be better off buying a quality gun safe first… then buying insurance…

    Dann in Ohio

  10. Hello everyone,

    Thank you everyone for your kind words. I can’t say it’s been easy- but it’s getting better.
    There were a few questions above that I thought I’d answer the best I can.
    1) Gun Safe. Yeah… Multiple firearms were for bug out/home protection/personal protection. So while the deer rifles would have been in a safe, it is highly likely that the other items places throughout the house for home defense would not have been. I’m not knocking a fireproof safe- just saying that it would have only minimized our loss- not negated it.
    2) Insurance requirements- we are required to provide proof of ownership of some, but not all items. I’m sure if we said we had a million dollar Picaso in our old farm house they’d want proof of that. But in our rural area they haven’t raised much of a eyebrow in most things. Although I am recommending that people photograph and store off site ( if there is such a safe place 🙁 anymore) the item purchased, serial number and receipt.
    3) Insurance rider- we are very private people for the most part (really we are) and to us having one more piece of paper documenting what we had was just not a option. Call me paranoid. Again – not knocking it as I’m sure it could come in handy. Just not something we would have done for privacy reasons.

    I’ve attached a short video of our current progress on the laundry mat/summer kitchen as I’m calling it.

    Thank you again everyone for your thoughts and prayers.

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