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Ask HN: My house might burn down in the next 24 hours. Suggestions?
498 points by kbenson on Oct 11, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 333 comments
E.g. Paperwork not to forget, items to document, things to expect when dealing with insurance, etc. I'm looking to avoid stupid mistakes from things I just didn't think of.

I'll forward the discussion along to the thousands of others in a Facebook group facing the same situation.

Make sure to take ID, debit card, cash, credit cards, smart phone, tablet, laptop, etc. Wear comfortable clothes, like sweats. Try to have a change of clothes. View this as stuff you may live in for a while.

Grab your homeowner's policy and any small personal items, like wedding rings.

It is cool if you can grab personal hygiene items, but those are relatively easily replaced. Try to take prescription medications. People sometimes wind up seriously ill a week or more after an evacuation event because they don't have their usual drugs and can't readily get more. In some cases, people die a few months later and relatives speculate that it is partly because they couldn't get a steady supply of their usual meds in the weeks afterwards.

Edit: After the fire, when you go back, take photos and call an insurance adjuster immediately. Do this before you try to fix anything or do any clean up. Cleaning up amounts to destroying evidence.

You can hire a public adjuster to file for you. Your broker, lawyer or a public adjuster are essentially the only people that can talk to the insurance company on your behalf.

(Edit: changed private adjuster to the correct term public adjuster)

> Wear comfortable clothes, like sweats. Try to have a change of clothes. View this as stuff you may live in for a while.

I would recommend extra changes of underwear and socks, as those are the two bits that will get bad quickly (especially in a hot environment) and can make life pretty miserable with the resulting rashes/fungus.

Before you leave, if you have time, take pictures of your rooms, especially the expensive items (and their serial numbers) as this will make life much easier for insurance claims later on.

yep. you'll want clothes that typically hikers get for long multi-day hikes. synthetics and/or stuff like merino wool for your underwear and socks is much more performant than cotton, which can get nasty in one day of exertion.

Be careful of private (aka public) adjusters. They take a cut of your settlement. They can help you get more from insurance sometimes.... but if your house burns down with everything in it, you are likely maxing out. They can't get you more than you are insured for... but they will still take a cut.

There will for sure be people be swooping in like vultures after something like this to try to profit... Not all are bad, but I would just say, be careful.

It depends on how much expensive merchandise you own. People forget just how quickly things add up. As a single example (out of hundreds in an average home), most people won't even remember to add their toaster to the insurance claim. And even if you remember to claim "a toaster", insurance will pay you $20 for the most basic toaster possible - rather than the $120 you spent on an 8-slot, temperature-aware model.

If you're claiming < $10k and you can live with receiving less back, you may be better off doing it on your own. If you're claiming much more, a (proper, non-scammy) insurance agent is going to multiply your return by an unimaginable amount. The majority of people are getting back less than 50% of their potential insurance payout. It can be worth paying an insurance agent $2000 to get back $30k instead of $10k.

Source: not an insurance agent or anything related; just remembering a Reddit thread where multiple people shared the gap between what they assumed they were eligible for, vs. what an agent squeezed out for them. Normal people don't know how to describe their possessions in proper detail. A decent insurance agent will ensure that what is being replaced is of equivalent value, rather than a bunch of the cheapest generic products.

I guess with that in mind, an addition to the todo-list is to go through each room with a digital camera and carefully photograph everything, including each cupboard and each drawer.

Nevermind the toaster — clothes add up surprisingly fast. Replacing your wardrobe is a surprisingly expensive thing to do

> Nevermind the toaster — clothes add up surprisingly fast.

And your shower curtain, food in the fridge, extension cords and cables, business cards, books that you got as gift but never read, and so on.

Most people have tens of thousands of dollars worth of $5 items in their home. But in the stress of losing your home in a fire, you will forget about all of them unless you have a good walk-through video of the entire place, opening each cupboard and looking under each bed.

Not just the money but your time. If you can't easily buy off the rack clothing then will be spending days replacing. You can always order another TV.

I suggest grabbing 1 suit & tie for any legal battles you might face with insurance companies.

In some states they amount to little more than scam artists. I'd hesitate before hiring one. Better, hesitate before speaking to one.

Funny, that is about how I feel about the entire insurance industry.

(Source: I worked for an insurance company for over five years.)

Theoretically, insurance is supposed to work like mortgage or other deaspool, where people pool money to cover a low chance but big risks by paying a small amount. However it got broken the moment it got capitalist. There is a whole idea of maximizing gain and doing essentially what is investment banking in some countries.

> it got broken the moment it got capitalist

Like, in 1681 when the "Insurance Office for Houses" was founded, or did you mean the maritime loans from the 4th century BC? Insurance and mutual aid societies have coexisted for literally millenia now, and if you think the latter are better, you're still free to join one (assuming your government doesn't force you into the former). But it's pretty nonsensical to blame capitalism if you don't like the way your insurance company currently operates.

Only approach one after the insurance company has made an offer that you think is terribly unfair. I worked with one in this situation and it worked out very well.

> maxing out

Taking this off topic, but what point is a fire insurance if it can be "maxed out"?

As an insurance company, how can you possibly value and determine adequate premiums for a potentially unlimited policy?

almost every type of insurance can be "maxed out". You buy a policy with a particular amount of coverage based on your perceived need. The insurance company charges you less for a lower cap, but if you put the cap too low, it won't cover everything you lost. So choose a policy with enough coverage.

To protect the value of the house and stuff as evaluated at the time where you make the insurance deal (and calculate the premium), not at the time when the fire happens - generally, there wouldn't be any significant difference, so it's not a problem and doesn't make the fire insurance any less valuable.

In a small fire it makes sense to look at what exactly was damaged and evaluate the loss, but if a house and all the belongings need to be replaced, then you can calculate that value beforehand, and put that as a reasonable limit to be used for the insurance; I believe you'd agree that if you add a million dollar painting to a half-million dollar house then that would need an adjustment to the insurance policy if you want it to be covered.

Fraud prevention, so you can't claim you had more than was actually there and get exorbitant money back.

To insure what you truly can't afford to lose. i.e. you definitely need the money to rebuild your house/kitchen/etc., you don't really need the replacement tv.

> Edit: After the fire, when you go back, take photos and call an insurance adjuster immediately. Do this before you try to fix anything or do any clean up

Don't forget to take lots of pictures before the fire too.

That's a good tip, maybe for everyone - have an offsite backup (Gmail works, iCloud, whatever), with photos of your valuables, your place, etc.

As I mentioned lower, try to wear as little synthetic as possible, if worse comes to worse, it melts into flesh. Cotton at least burns. (Yes I know, lesser of two evils here).

Good call on the meds op.

I don't think he's planning on being in the house.

Sometimes people have to escape through the flames. Synthetic clothing can have a low burn point and can damage skin if only melted.

If it were me I would pack synthetics in a bag for use after reaching safety, and wear long sleeve shirt, pants, and boots while escaping in a vehicle or worst case on foot.

Would jumping into the shower and saturating your clothes before running through flames retard the burning of synthetic, if fully saturated? I ask cause I sleep in 100% polyester and nylon exclusively as cotton makes me sweat under a blanket.

If there's time, I'd also take photos of any higher value items you're leaving behind. It removes the risk of being unable to prove you owned something.

Take a photo of every item, not just the high value items. Those small items really add up to thousands. (unless you are a student/poor)

"Those small items really add up to thousands. (unless you are a student/poor)"

Given the price of most college and university books, a student could likely get very rich by simply buying used and having those burn if they looked new enough and could be documented as being in the home when the fire occurred.

I'm not talking about insurance fraud?

My only point was if you're a college student you probably aren't going to have the same amount and quality of items that someone more established has.

If you're a college student/low income/young you are likely to have, say, 1-2 bath towels bought from the Dollar Store; if you are more established then you're likely to have a nicer towel set that costs closer to $50. Those small items ($5-$50 each) are going to add up to probably be just as much, if not more, as any one expensive item. Every small thing matters.

Just take a HD video of your whole house. Can take some still pictures too.

Passport, too, and any documents that would be difficult or impossible to replace. Hopefully you already have these all in one place so they’re easy to grab.

Great advice. I'd add that it would be wise to record serial numbers and pictures of items that you cannot take with you. There are many sites out there that will host specifically this, but here's a project i worked on. https://reportit.leadsonline.com/

I'd add Birth certificate and phone/laptop charger.

I have most of the stuff mentioned in this comment permanently in a Pelican case. Grab and go.

As someone who's had all their stuff be burned, the one thing I would say is this - too many things that we saved were replaceable. The things that we missed were the ones that weren't. Even though you have an expensive fancy camera that you want to save, if that comes at the cost of leaving behind the quilt your grandmother made, leave the camera. Especially if you have fire insurance. Money can replace pricey things. It can't replace sentimental ones.

The two most important things to save are data and personal irreplaceable items.

Data is easily saved by uploading to cloud storage, preferably more than one service. You should already be doing this, Google Drive is 15GB free, Dropbox is 2GB free. Usually that's enough for the most important documents. Google Photos has unlimited storage as long as your pictures are 16MP or less.

I'll admit that I don't have an overview of my irreplaceable items. Maybe I should do a mental list when I get home today.

This is great advice, which surprisingly few people follow.

A few years back I scanned all of our personal records, tax returns, visas, dog vaccinations etc and created a dedicated Box account with a Google Drive backup. It was a massive undertaking at the time, but now whenever we receive something new it's a pretty painless task to scan it and upload it to cloud storage.

An added bonus is that after years of stockpiling paper we now have virtually no paper records anymore other than the things that absolutely have to be: passports, SSNs, birth certificates etc.

The moment there's a longer blackout, you guys are out in the open. Nice.

Flickr has 1TB free for photos.

https://mega.nz/ does 50GB free

This is true. A friends parents house burned to the ground. At their advanced age, the only thing they complained about were all the sentimental items they lost. You can always buy a new camera, but man, those wedding pictures and ornaments aren't quite as replaceable.

Especially for older people. Back in the day they didn't have cameras as much and developing film was expensive. That wedding album might have the only photos you have of a relative that is now dead.

that's why ypu have Scan photos inside Google photos to backup them in cloud easily with smartphone without scanner

Yes you should do that. But it's easy to forget to do that.

I think I'm going to do an inventory this weekend just in case something similar happens to me. I need to know what sentimental stuff to grab in a hurry

Agreed. This exact scenario happened to me. I lost a great deal of things in the fire. The only thing I miss is the quilt my frandmother.made for me. I still get upset about it.

I'm feel for you, I lost my childhood photo albums in a garage fire. I still kick myself to this day :(

"An employee from an insurance company describes in detail how to get the most out of your claim." https://np.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/comments/43iyip/our_...

Basically take photos of everything, if just to remember what will be lost so you can list it for the insurance later.

I hope the OP notices this, it's excellent advice. The time you spend on your claim to your insurance company may be the best hourly rate you ever make in your life. Don't rush it, get it right. My takeaway from the reddit comment is "be as specific as possible, especially about expensive things."

Like this, for example: 'If you said "High-end Toaster, Stainless Steel, Blue glowing power button" ... you might get $35-50 instead [of much less]. We had to match all features that were listed.' I can imagine that someone who has been through an ordeal and just wants to get the claim processed might just say 'toaster', and end up with $7 instead of $50. Multiply that by everything in your house, and you're really coming up short.

I have no idea how this works but aren't most policies exempt from force majeure like forest fires?

Most policies exempt "acts of God", but I think forest fires are firmly in the covered realm. A meteor hitting your house might be in the uncovered area. (They also exempt acts of war, so a north korean missile hitting your house would also likely not be covered.)

I just purchased some life insurance with exactly the North Korean scenario in mind and I specifically asked the agent about the acts of war exclusion. He told me the company doesn’t have this exclusion, and most insurance companies don’t have it nowadays, and if they have it, it only applies to military personnel. Of course, everyone who buys insurance should check with their agent, not take my word for it.

You bought life insurance to hedge against a nuclear attack? I suspect we will have other things than accounting to worry about after an exchange like that.

The prevailing assumption about nuclear attack is every weapon every manufactured will be simultaneously fired at op who is at ground zero. For all values of op across the entire country. And no other scenario can exist. Which of course is silly. The only wartime nuclear activity we've had on this planet wasn't a nuclear exchange, for example.

Most likely outcome is something like a single "dirty bomb" attack on a city 1500 miles downwind of where I work, unfortunately where a datacenter is located, resulting in me putting in a 36 hour work day trying to bring everything up at a disaster recovery datacenter 1000 miles away from both me and the attack, then on the commute home after 36 hours without sleep, I fall asleep driving and die in the resulting car accident, and my family won't get a penny because "clearly his death was a result of a N.K. act of war". Even worse not only might my family not get a penny WRT death but if anyone can sue anyone for anything, and my liability insurance is cancelled because of "act of war" then my family could end up quite destitute after a multi-car accident.

I wonder how many people had heart attacks watching the 9/11 news coverage a couple decades ago.

Or for any value of american response, a large fraction of the population would be very unhappy with the american response to a nuclear terrorism attack, regardless of the specific response, so my car parked downtown gets set on fire in the riots. That would suck if my car was temporarily uninsured because it was an act of war.

There's a lot of people paid a lot of money to deny insurance claims. See also, medical insurance.

Food is going to be expensive.

Shouldn't everyone read their policy? The written policy is what matters, not what an agent tells you.

I thought that's exactly what insurance was for though. I thought force majeure was something that applies to cancellation of contracts - e.g. I work for a performer and if he can't make it to a show because there are no fights due to weather, both he and the venue reschedule with no penalties paid by either side. Likewise if the venue is snowed in our something. But if they just choose to cancel the concert at short notice, they still have to pay his fee.


Hmm, looks like it has to be explicitly written into the concept one way or another. For instance, flood insurance or earthquake insurance deliberately include floods or earthquakes (respectively) in the coverage language.

I would say it's faster to just take slowly video than trying to take hundreds of photos.

Pack a bag with a couple of changes of clothes, sleeping stuff, underwear toiletries, and just leave it in your car. If you have a pair of "outside" shoes (like hiking boots or something you would go camping in) put those in the car too. This is also for earthquake prep, you can run out of the house into your car and you're not going to spend the next week in the same clothes.

Then prioritize by things that are hard to replace that will give you access to other things. So passport, cash, flash drives, chargers etc. Those should be in your car ready to go.

Also think about how quickly you can get them out of your car (so if you have to transfer at a road block to a rescue vehicle).

Family Radios if you have them, extra batteries, can keep you in touch with your family and responders.

If you happen to have ammunition try to put it somewhere that it won't hurt anyone if it is 'cooked off' by heat. A friend of mine in the sierras keeps his shotgun shells in the root cellar for that reason.

EDIT: The ammo cooking off isn't going to kill anyone but it will startle them. And it can make it harder on fire fighters. So please if you have some, try to insure it won't explode.

Depending on how much time you have and what sort of tools, you can bury things that you don't want to burn. I have heard, but haven't tested, that if you bury something at least 12" below regular soil it will survive the time it takes a fire to move past. If you do it at the start (so the ground is bare on top) then you can avoid having any burning material over the cache.

Honestly ammo going off from a fire really isn't a big deal.Without a barrel for the ammo to travel through it has no chance to build up velocity. The casing is more dangerous than the bullet at that point.

Center-fire cartridges usually have seated the primer with a material that will melt at temperatures lower than is needed to set the round off. This has the effect of reducing pressure, as well as the normal lack of pressure when it isn't chambered.

> ammunition

Wat? Does US law not require ammunition be stored in a gun safe!?

Not just ammunition, US law doesn’t require guns to be stored in a safe or have something like a trigger lock. You can use your kitchen table to store all the loaded firearms you want.

Depends on the state. CA has safe storage laws if minors are present:


And it's wise to follow them even if minors aren't present. If some kids are trespassing you can be held liable in a hurry.

If I recall law school correctly, this would generally not apply to trespassers, only to people you have invited onto your property. There is an exception to this general rule for "attractive nuisances", so if you put guns in a place where they were visible from the property line you might fall into that exception.

Not saying one shouldn't use proper storage, only that liability probably would not result if you didn't (at least under federal law — as others have noted various states/cities have tighter laws).

I own a significant number of firearms. It isn't law but I recommend storing the ammunition in a second safe. I have multiple safes and, even without children in the home, keep ammo and firearms securely stored separately.

On this subject, I'd also seriously recommend that people take advantage of the holes on the bottom, or rear, of your safe. Those are so you can secure the safe to the building.

In my case, all the safes are attached to bolts embedded in both the floor and the walls. The basement room walls are concrete block and the door to the room is made of steel. If you have a sizable collection, or own any firearms that require an NFA tax stamp, your insurance company will probably suggest such things.

But, even if you just have a handgun or Gramp's old shotgun, I'd still recommend keeping ammo stored separately.

> On this subject, I'd also seriously recommend that people take advantage of the holes on the bottom, or rear, of your safe. Those are so you can secure the safe to the building.

In UK you are required to attach the safe to your building. Using those holes is not optional!

We have very different regulations here. A safe isn't even required.

I own two firearms capable of fully automatic fire. The law doesn't even require I store them in a safe. I can strap one on and walk down the street, if I really wanted to.

I should try to clarify that I am not a 'gun nut' but I am a 'firearm aficionado.' I belong to no militias, I don't plan on fighting the government, and I don't even belong to the NRA.

I do hunt but mostly I just like to slaughter innocent bits of paper. If threatened, I'm almost certainly not going to shoot anyone. I am not interested in harming anyone.

I was on a rifle and pistol team and later a Marine. I just like shooting stuff and I admire the engineering and art that is firearms.

Sadly, I feel obligated to mention and clarify that. I find 'gun nuts' rather bothersome. They make it more difficult for me to be able to have rational discussions as they prejudice others against firearm ownership - and understandably so. If my only exposure were the reported violence in the news and 'gun nuts,' I'd want to ban them too.

However, I'm a simple collector and much of my collection is because a friend of mine used to be a dealer and he keeps selling his collection to me, piece by piece. I'd rather they sit in my safes where I know they will be preserved. I have pieces I've never fired and never will.

But, yeah... We don't actually even have to have them in a safe. I also live in a very, very rural area where they are tools and not toys. I don't think I know any local people who don't have a firearm.

It's pretty different than what you're probably used to.

> I should try to clarify that I am not a 'gun nut' but I am a 'firearm aficionado.'

I am not a 'gun control nut', but I am a 'not getting shot aficionado.'

I don't think anyone wants to be shot. Well, nobody sane wants to be shot. My politics lies on the err towards freedom side but I would absolutely not complain about reasonable regulations concerning firearm ownership.

People seem to have forgotten that rights come with obligations. Because of this, it seems the law may need to be used as a tool to enforce those regulations.

I don't have any complaints about a specific type of firearm being owned by a private person. In fact, I have no problem with the idea of making more modern fully automatic firearms available for ownership.


People forget that their right to bear arms comes with an obligation to do so reasonably. I think it is reasonable for ownership of a firearm to require demonstrated proficiency in the use, care, maintanence, and safe storage - for each specific firearm. Not just for each type, but for each one owned.

To own a firearm, you should be able to demonstrate safe use, knowledge about keeping it in functional condition, have a reasonable safe storage system, and you should be able to account for it at all times. This means mandatory notice of sale, including checks to ensure the buyer can lawfully posess a firearm, proper bills of sale, and mandated notification of loss, due to things like theft or accident.

There should be an exception for antiques and firearms that are not safe to fire but kept for collection, things like that.

It is notable that I live in a State that actually, a couple of years ago, removed the need for a permit to carry a concealed firearm. Yup... We straight up removed the requirement to have a permit. This hasn't resulted in a rise in firearm deaths or crimes involving firearms. This hasn't actually resulted in the predicted bloodbaths. Crime is still trending downwards and there has been no increase in violent crimes involving firearms.

That's probably due to the mentality here. They are tools. We use them to hunt, protect our livestock, or to remove dangerous pests that are disease vectors. They aren't special, they are something you'll find in most homes.

I don't expect you to change your views based on a forum post, but I do ask that you give serious thought to taking away liberties from lawful people because you're afraid. Fear is a powerful motivator, after all.

If you're curious, I'd absolutely hand in my firearms if the government were rounding them up. I'd also help you load my stolen possessions instead of trying to harm you. I'm pretty much the definition of responsible firearm owner - as are the majority of firearm owners.

It's not even about defense from tyranny or any of that crap. Nah... It's about enjoying them and about eating. I personally kill and process almost every bit of meat that I eat. I don't have to, but I appreciate doing so. I don't even always use a firearm to do so. This year, I'll harvest my deer during archery season.

Given that I own an obscene number of acres, the odds of my harming you approach zero. If you take away someone else's rights, you'll have taken away mine. So, I ask that you do be careful when you consider what liberties are worth conceding before deciding what routes you support.

Me? I support reasonable restrictions based on individual assessment and demonstrated competency. It will add to the expense, but I feel the additional expense is worth it in exchange for keeping my rights.

Err... Sorry for the novella? I felt obligated to ensure I was clear. The whole debate is pretty muddy and it's difficult to find people who are reasonable. Most vocal people seem to be wildly at one end of the spectrum or the other and both sides appear to envision caricatures of the folks on the opposite side of the debate.

As a Brit, I can't explain quite how foreign this logic is. It just blows my mind that people can think like this. Most American logic and way of life is remarkably similar. I feel like I understand the American way of life more than say Russian or Chinese. But guns are just such a fixation for the US more so than any other country.

Other than the hunting, it's a hobby. It is something that you can always practice and improve. At one point, I was enlisted in the Marines and seriously considered sniper school.

Had I not been enlisted with the goal of paying for my education, I may have made that choice. I really enjoy the wanton slaughter of innocent bits of paper. If I'm feeling particularly cruel, I'll put a bunch of bits of paper out there and make them watch.

I'm sure that makes me a monster to some people but I'm pretty harmless. Some people should not own firearms. That should be addressed. I don't think that should impact my liberties, however.

If keeping my rights is a fixation, I'll wear that badge.

Also, the US isn't that armed, compared to some other countries. We are fond of killing each other, so there's that. I suspect that is a bigger problem than the tool used to do it.

If you ever get to this side of the pond, feel free to look me up. I'll teach you how to safely put rounds down range and on target. After that, it is all on you to improve your skill.

> Also, the US isn't that armed, compared to some other countries.

Wikipedia would disagree with you there. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estimated_number_of_guns_per_c...

You don't sound like a "gun nut", but I have to question anyone who can't acknowledge that America is way more obsessed about owning guns than the rest of the planet.

That's called lying with statistics.

About 22% of the population owns a firearm. However, about 3% of us own 50% of the firearms.

In other words, the number is accurate but misleading. Here is some recent data:


My collection is a bit more than 300 individual, complete, firearms.

Second, your link is only small arms in civilian hands and doesn't account for inaccurate reporting. Go to somewhere like, say, Somalia and I can assure you that you'll see the numbers are misleading. Then again, when a local militia counts as military, that tends to really make the whole civilian part moot.

We are pretty obsessed. We aren't more obsessed than anywhere else on the planet. There are places on this planet where failure to own a firearm means you're a very, very vulnerable person.

We can skip the histrionics and have a real conversation, if you'd like. Taking a simple statistic and extrapolating it to mean something quite different isn't very productive.

Additionally, the data is from 2007 and has some noted caveats on your linked page.

If you want a meaningful statistic, and I can't find one to cite, then the percentage of civilians who own firearms is much more significant than the total number. While I do own quite a few, I can't really effectively use more than one at a time. It isn't really like the movies.

In the US, 22% of us own firearms. That is it. 3% of us own half of the firearms. I have enough for, oh, 300 people, give or take.

Wikipedia and Google aren't that helpful, but I strongly suspect more than 1/5 the people in Somalia own firearms. Furthermore, I strongly suspect that they are far more likely to carry those firearms.

I pick Somalia only to have a good example of why statistics are able to be horribly misleading. We do love our firearms, but I'm going to have to argue the bit about the 'rest of the planet.'

I will happily concede that we have an unhealthy firearm culture. I will happily concede that we are obsessed to an unhealthy degree. I will happily concede that we need to make changes. I will happily concede that some people shouldn't own firearms.

We don't need hyperbole to get those concessions.

Now, what is your concern and how can I help address that beyond what has already been mentioned?

Edit: I re-read what I wrote and it comes off rougher than I'd like. I'm going to leave it but I ask that you understand my frustration isn't directed at you, the individual. I am frustrated and I suspect that's able to be discerned from my writing style with that post.

I am going to leave it because I am frustrated. People are seriously considering taking away my rights. I don't want any of my rights taken away - even if I didn't plan on using them. I have plenty of room and would happily let them house soldiers on my property, but I'm not wanting to give up the right to refuse.

In response to your self-examination of “being rough”, IMO you’ve presented your perspective in an honest, civil and level-headed way. I hope one day to live in a world where people for and against any issue can discuss that issue with the civility you have demonstrated here.

In my experience, stepping outside of my Liberal-biased comfort zone and having such civil discussions with others has helped me realize that people tend to have so much more in common with each other than their partisan alignments would allow them to think. Also, as a result of that experience, I no longer use such labels to describe myself or others. Because right vs left or whatever branding people may choose for themselves are simply a false dichotomy that keeps us distracted from solving real problems.

I am actually very left leaning, to the point where I make a European blush. What I am not is an authoritarian.

This doesn't fit well in American politics. My concerns are preservation of liberties while ensuring protection of the commons and striking a reasonable balance between them.

I'm just not a Statist. I absolutely think we should have things like inexpensive education, a broad social safety net, universal health care, and progressive taxation.

I've never actually been represented by a government official.

Like you, I don't fit easily into a box or a definition. I'm fairly moderate and reasonable, I hope. I didn't emote my way to these positions, I used logic and reason. I've held these views up for debate and have had this same conversation hundreds of times - some of those conversations helping me define and present my views better. I am absolutely willing to adjust based on new information and try to be both realistic and pragmatic.

So, I absolutely appreciate your civility. It is a rarity to be able to reach this level of discourse, more so on a public forum.

That says a great deal about you as a person and about the HN community which has played host to this conversation. (I've noticed the votes coming in, so we are being observed.)

I don't expect to change views. I hope to give reason and an example. It's REALLY hard to hold my position of being pro-firearm ownership when I'm in certain circles. The political climate doesn't make it easy.

So, I usually try to be really careful about what I say and how I say it. It makes for long posts but I think it easier to be clear than it is to be defensive.

Again, I absolutely admire your civility and willingness to hear a view that isn't shared often. I do confess, many of the other firearm owners make this much more difficult. They are a problem and I don't have a solution other than my above proposals.

I don't see as the US as being monsters, just that it seems very very important to you.

I spent a couple of years in the air cadets (youth version of the air force) and I fired rifles there. I can see reasons for it in the military. You're right it is very much a skill and a very important one in human history to be able hit a target.

Archery does something similar but I don't see people collecting hundreds of bows and arrows.

But literally I've never known someone who owns a handgun, or been in a house where there is one. Let alone automatic rifles.

I'm not saying that it's wrong or right just foreign.

Cheers for the invitation :) If you come this side of the pond I'll find some exciting cheese rolling competition for you to do

Oh, I own several dozen bows, a wide collection of arrows, and a couple of crossbows. I take a couple of handicapped people out to hunt and Maine allows handicapped people to hunt with a crossbow.

Wow... We are so far off-topic, but we're being civil and productive so, hopefully, nobody minds too much. Email is available and an option.

On that note, I'd probably rather be shot with a bullet than with a bolt from a crossbow. The energy imparted by a fairly bog standard crossbow at 100 yards is about the same amount of energy imparted by a .45 at 6". The damage a bolt causes is unbelievable, if you're not familiar with it.

Even a simple recurve bow with a 70# draw imparts a great deal of force. I can reasonably fire three arrows in ten seconds.

Anyhow, I do hunt during archery season - if you hadn't guessed. I'll be harvesting my deer during archery season and haven't decided if I'm going to try for a bear with a bow. I'm worried about not getting a clean shot and the bear suffering needlessly.

As mentioned before, I kill and process the vast majority of the meat that I eat. I respect the animal and don't want to cause additional or prolonged suffering.

I guess the partial point I'm making is that a firearm is a tool and needn't be used to harm humans. I have other tools that will readily harm a human. I don't plan on ever doing so and would go to great lengths to avoid doing so.

Not all of us want to be Rambo and dream about fighting off bad guys in an active shooter situation. Unlike the movies, getting shot at kind of sucks and is scary. I'd like to avoid that. The problem is, and it is a problem, we have people who seem to fetishizes just that. We also have crazy people. I submit there's overlap between those two groups.

> I guess the partial point I'm making is that a firearm is a tool and needn't be used to harm humans.

This brings to mind my stance over the last few years regarding firearms, which is I think it would be beneficial to outlaw handguns (as opposed to rifles or shotguns), if it could be feasibly done (it probably can't, there's far too many out there already). Firearms can be utilitarian, but the extra utility offered by miniaturizing them to the point that they are easily carried on your body, and easily hidden on your body, seems to encourage modes of use that are detrimental.

Police, of course, may have reason to need a small firearm handy, but even then there seem to be problems where it's so easy to access that it's used inappropriately (or even accidentally used instead of a taser).

When hunting bears, it's prudent to carry a sidearm. Bears will sometimes stay really still, appearing as if they're dead, and will attack when you get close enough.

(That situation counts for every black bear attack in Maine since the 1880s.)

A rifle isn't as easily maneuvered in tight situations and close up. You don't want to damage the meat more than you have to - so that you're maximizing the value.

Dispatching a wounded animal (of other types) with a pistol is fairly common and the rounds are less likely to cause much more damage.

Additionally, I rabbit hunt with a .22 (Ruger Mk II) frequently. Opportunistic rabbits are delicious and easily taken with a small round.

Then, there's sport shooting. Pistol clubs and competitions are quite common activities in certain spheres. I was on both a rifle and pistol club. (Back then, they were actually functions at my school. Our firearms were locked in the closet in the headmaster's office.)

So, there's justified reasons to own a pistol.

Also, as you suggested, I have no idea how they'd get them off the street. I can't even begin to imagine the uproar.

As an aside, as far as I know, the largest mass killing of civilians in America was at the Battle of Wounded Knee. After disarming the civilians, they massacred a bunch of them, including women and children.

When the Revolution really got started, the British were marching their way to Concord to confiscate the powder, shot, and cannon. They were going to go disarm the citizens.

I have no idea how we'd be able to get pistols off the street and I'm not sure that'd actually solve anything. Most firearm deaths that aren't suicides are caused by people who aren't actually interested in obeying the law.

Even if we could, I'm not sure that I'd want to give up that liberty. Freedom does come with penalties. Liberties come with associated risk. We can speculate that speech is a more a cause than the firearm used to commit the act, I don't want to give up that right either.

As for the police, I'd like to disarm them except for specially trained officers and only for use in certain situations. I don't see that as being political feasible either. Call it a hunch, but that doesn't seem likely to happen.

What was effectively a handgun ban came into enforcement in the UK [0] in 1996. One exception was for sporting clubs.

Of course we're pretty short of bears.

[0]: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firearms_policy_in_the_Unite...

The political environment, and willingness to cede control to the State, is very different than it is here. I suspect the attempt would mean armed insurrection if tried here.

I am not condoning it, I'm merely pointing out that it's quite probable.

> So, there's justified reasons to own a pistol.

Well, that depends. If those are justified reasons, then there are justified reasons to own and operate a .50 cal BMG rifle, a grenade launcher, or landmines. You can make a sport out of anything, and that something is used as equipment a sport isn't a good reason for its legality. Of the things you mentioned, the bear safety is the most compelling, but that's easily solved by circling widely to the front and putting an extra round in the head. That's safe. It would be nice if handguns could only be used responsibly, but they have specific attributes that I think make them problematic for society.

> Additionally, I rabbit hunt with a .22 (Ruger Mk II) frequently. Opportunistic rabbits are delicious and easily taken with a small round.

When I was young I watched my grandfather take a golpher in the head while it was diving into its hole at 30 yards using a .22 rifle. I pulled the body out of the hole it landed halfway in. I'm not convinced a handgun is required for this either.

> When the Revolution really got started, the British were marching their way to Concord to confiscate the powder, shot, and cannon. They were going to go disarm the citizens.

Sort of a on-sequitur, since we're not talking about removing all firearms, just a specific type of firearm, and one of less use in an armed conflict than the ones I'm proposing we could keep. I believe the right to bear arms is important. I believe in the citizenry's right and responsibility to be a check on the government. I'm just not sure how handguns really support that in a way that isn't by other firearms, and I do think they have unique disadvantages for society.

> Freedom does come with penalties. Liberties come with associated risk.

This argument is all too often unqualified. Should we all be allowed access to RPGs, land mines and missiles? I believe there exist weapons that the regular citizenry don't necessarily need regular access to. If you believe the same, I think it's entirely valid to ask for what criteria makes some of those items valid for that list and not hand guns. That may be easily answered by some, but others might find it hard to justify their initial reaction.

Edit: Fixed some typos

I own multiple firearms in .50 cal, including the vaunted Barrett. I have no qualms with people who can demonstrate safety, proficiency, and sanity being allowed to own firearms of those types.

Firearms are well defined. An RPG or landmine is not a firearm.

Need isn't the issue. You don't need your freedom of speech, either. You don't need your right to be secure in your papers.

Much like all my other liberties, I own firearms because I want to. I speak because I want to.

> I own multiple firearms in .50 cal, including the vaunted Barrett. I have no qualms with people who can demonstrate safety, proficiency, and sanity being allowed to own firearms of those types.

We're not talking about that though. We're talking about liberties, and the right to bear arms, which is very much not restricted to people that can show those skills for the vast majority of the country (which is not to say the majority don't have those skills,just that it's not a requirement of ownership).

> Firearms are well defined. An RPG or landmine is not a firearm.

The liberty in question is the right to bear "arms". While firearms generally means hand-held weapons, "arms" does not. If the right to own and bear these is a liberty that people are not upset about, why, and what's the difference? What about cannons? Historical, or modern? Mortars?

I posit that people have made distinctions based on cultural norms and/or personal desire in mony cases instead of specific attributes that classify them into groups (even if the government has classified them into groups legally), and that handguns, if looked at with an open mind, might not fit into the group of what is considered acceptable (if it wasn't grandfathered in already).

> Need isn't the issue. You don't need your freedom of speech, either. You don't need your right to be secure in your papers.

But need should factor into whether something is a legal exception that is allowed. I would argue that some form of firearms are needed based on the constitution and bill of rights. I'm just not sure handguns are needed.

You may have missed one of my posts. I think we can both agree that certain people should be excluded from owning firearms. Because of the risks involved, I'm very much in favor of testing for competency, safety, security, and sanity.

Right now, we have a problem. Banning and trying to confiscate a firearm type is not a reasonable solution.

Hell, even defining pistol in a useful way is damned difficult.

If need factors into it, we don't need any of our rights. Humans survive in totalitarian regimes.

Place reasonable restrictions and work on the social issues. We both agree reasonable restrictions are a good idea. I submit that your definition of reasonable is different than my own.

It is not okay to take away my liberties because you're afraid of a statistical outlier. Yes, being an outlier sucks, but that's not a good reason to go banning things that scare you.

It's great that you said you're not sure that handguns are needed. That means you're not sure they should be prohibited. If nothing else, that gives us room for discussion.

Liberty is about having the lawful option. It's not about needs. If it were, they'd call them necessities.

> You may have missed one of my posts...

I'm not really trying to hammer you on this, I'm more testing out this argument to see how it goes. This is more to find if there's some obvious thing I'm missing.

> Right now, we have a problem. Banning and trying to confiscate a firearm type is not a reasonable solution.

Well, we already ban other types. It's not going to solve anything, but that doesn't mean it might not help in some small way.

> I submit that your definition of reasonable is different than my own.

I was just trying to figure out how you defined reasonable. It's easy for people to say "it's not reasonable" when they really mean "I don't want to think about it in a reasonable manner and explain myself". I'm not accusing you of that.

> It is not okay to take away my liberties because you're afraid of a statistical outlier.

Well, some of your liberties are already denied you, depending on interpretation. Is the important thing that they are "taken away", so you feel it, or that they are denied, in which case whether they exist right now is moot.

> If nothing else, that gives us room for discussion.

That's all this is! :) I'm not sure it would help even if it could be implemented, but I thought it was interesting to discuss.

Thanks for discussing it with me. :)

In South Australia it's either: attached to the building OR (my friend uses this option as he's in a rental property) if the safe is over a certain weight, it can be 'unattached', because it effectively becomes immovable anyway.

Not sure about other AU states.

Edit: clarified state.

I guess that's common most places, but the US have these great ideas when it comes to weapons, and it's working out so well for them /s

If your guns are for home protection how on earth would you be well served by needing to open a second safe to get your ammo?

If you feel the need to have guns for home protection, it might be a better idea to move somewhere safer

Should I move to a fireproof home instead of own a fire extinguisher?

When was the last time someone went on a killing spree with a fire extinguisher?

I don't know. But there's been countless killing sprees with knives, and I have those in my kitchen drawer. Not even a locked drawer.

Knives, however, have legitimate uses. Guns don't.

I don't know why everyone can't have a fireproof home, like me. /s

That isn't really an option for a lot of people, unfortunately.

Your hypothetical unnecessarily opts to store ammunition in a second safe to your weapon.

The above thread made no reference to owning a weapon for home protection.

Exactly, that's why the responsible gun owner just protecting themselves is a myth, most times they are needed for self defense you won't have quick enough access if you are storing them responsibly.

In some states like mine it's required you store ammunition under your pillow, loaded in your handgun. I'm only half joking.

Pretty sure it's required in the state of Paranoia.

So refreshing to see incredulity when talking about US gun laws.

Guns go in the gun safe. Ammo goes in the ammo room.

No, it does not, at least nowhere that I’ve ever heard of. Maybe someplace like Chicago, I dunno.

Ammo cooking off in a fire sounds dramatic but isn't particularly dangerous [0], unless of course a loaded gun is burning. In the OP's position it would be really low on my list of priorities.

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SlOXowwC4c (skip to about 13 min)

If you felt I was implying it was dangerous then I misspoke. It isn't. However, it is rather startling to first responders. If there are fire fighters trying to save your house and it starts going 'bang! bang!' at them, they will stop and go elsewhere.

It's the same as with gas canisters, fireworks, petrol for your lawn mower or what other highly flammable substances you might have.

Place it so it ideally won't harm anyone. Granted that's hard if the entire neighborhood goes up in flames.

Gather all of your legal documents (deed to house, loan paperwork, birth certificates, pictures, social security cards, insurance docs, car titles, and any other documents and valuables), blankets, computers, 5 to 7 days worth of clothes, some food, water, drinks, snacks and other digital devices. Insure they are all secured in the vehicle you are going to use to vacate the area.

Also insure you have video and pictures of the now to include the inside and outside of your home, vehicles and land along with what the neighbors homes looked before you vacate the area.

Once you are sure you have everything, fill up on gas if possible and vacate the area and check the safety status of the area many miles away from the fire. To be safe go to a different county or city far away from the flames.

Something people frequently overlook - take photos of all your clothes (or at least count each item), because replacing an entire wardrobe of clothes is expensive and remembering everything you had is very difficult.

Take photos of everything and sync them with the cloud. Documents, hard copy photos, drivers licence, certificates. Everything.

Or just give a DVD with the photos and videos to your sister or parents, or send it to a friend in another city. Encrypted if you prefer. Uploading photos of all your valuable items and your identity documents to internet could lead to a different category of big troubles.

Google Photos offers unlimited storage for free, as long as your pictures are smaller than 16MP.

I agree. You should take pictures of any valuables you leave behind so it'd be easier to prove you owned them to the insurance. Take pictures of serial numbers when possible.

Simple advice - if you have a hose around your house just spray your roof and all around your property for an hour. I heard someone in your situation (right now) who did exactly that. His house is the only one that survived the fire in his neighborhood.

Try to set up a sprinkler on the roof and just leave it... it'll go a long way to knock down any embers that may land on it.

This is specifically advised against in guidelines as it may reduce neighbourhood water pressure (and in some cases: supplies).


Pump trucks bring their own pressure.

Yea, but many people don't have, or couldn't afford property insurance. Turn it on, and get out.

If you can't afford property insurance, maybe you really can't afford the home.

Most people on Earth can't afford a home.

It certainly puts things into perspective.

"Try to set up a sprinkler on the roof and just leave it... it'll go a long way to knock down any embers that may land on it."

This is a fantastic idea and something we have begun to implement this year for our house and one of our barns.

I've been meaning to do it for the last five years but it's more complicated than you think - your water supply and all components out to the sprinkler heads need to be metal (not PVC) pipe and depending on the height of your buildings it might be non-trivial to get the right pressure up to the top of a 30 or 40 foot tall structure.

I cannot comment on issues of "neighborhood water supply", etc., as we have our own water supply.

The plan is very simple - upon evacuation, turn on the sprinklers which will irrigate the area of the roof itself, as well as 10-12 feet beyond. It's a very good idea because much of the risk of structure involvement arises from embers that are blown, or float onto the roof, into the gutters, or into the attic (through vents).

Related to that, it is extremely important to keep your gutters clear of leaf debris and clear any accumulated piles of brush away from the house itself (usually in exterior corners, etc.)

For last minute option, perhaps best to attempt to make a sprinkler out of the gardenhose by poking holes in it and if long enough roll it out around the house.

Would be worried about water damage there....can be more costly than fire/smoke damage.

A sprinkler on your roof wouldn't do any more damage than a heavy rainfall.

More like light rainfall :p

...Does it not rain on your house?

in California it doesn't rain much :)

So who knows if the roof will hold water... hehe

I know you're joking but California is a whole lot more than Southern California. California was on my shortlist of places to retire to and a requirement to be on that list was lots of snow.

It's a great place with great climate variations.

Why don't more people think of that? Brilliant!

Many of those things on the market here in Aus.

Ember defenders, for example: https://www.ebay.com.au/i/222172111808?chn=ps&dispItem=1

Spray it with fire-resistant foam? or just water?

Water is fine.

Most people don't stockpile (or have available on tap) foam.

This is the worst advice I have ever encountered. Anywhere. Ever.

Do not waste time dousing your house with a hose, just get your stuff quickly and get out of there safely.

Yeah, but you still have 23-1/2 hours.

Do all you can. It's your home.

Time to think about your fire plan. My home one is six pages long - not joking! I had to write one when my wiff wanted to run a small bus. from here. It's actually longer than my business one ...

Anyway, this is not a joke and should be taken a bit seriously. A 2l "dry water" fire extinguisher costs about £20 a pop. They work on all fires that are likely to be encountered in the home (not rated for flamable metal). They are quite new but are certified in the EU and maybe beyond. The great thing about these is that they are safe for electrical fires as well as paper etc. So you can replace foam and CO2 with one extinguisher. I was encouraged to look into these by a member of the British Fire Brigade. Put one on each floor.

As well as that, get an escape ladder for upstairs - ~£30-40 and a blanket for the kitchen - ~£5

Fire needs three things to crack on: Something to burn, oxygen, source of ignition. It's not rocket science. No one needs to know about your little fixation about removing the towel that your sig. other leaves next to the gas hob etc.

Keep safe kids!

EDIT: Just seen a few posts whilst I was pontificating here from people who really have to deal with fire as a way of life.

You have a lot of good advice here - heed it!

My comment is a bit pithy, but the time to think about that has passed.

There are many fine suggestions in the thread, so I'm going to amend, assuming you don't mind, your statement - just a little.

"It's time for everyone else to think about their fire plan."

At this point, OP should just follow the best solutions posted in the thread that the situation safely allows for. I'd add that they should monitor local radio as that's likely the source of a rapid evacuation notice.


Edited to make it clear that my comment is the pithy one, not the one to which I am responding.

Yes, I suddenly realised that the OP is not worrying about the basics but a clear and present danger (see my EDIT2)

I'm not from around there ...

LOL I think we might both be editing our comments in real time.

As it appears to be a real and present danger, I'm tempted to write about how to respond in an emergency situation. I'd be more concerned with it derailing the subject of the thread, however.

I'd also add that if there is real risk, moving before the traffic increase may be a wise option. I'm not able to determine their risk and, for liability reasons, would not do so.

I completely understand taking the opportunity to give basic fire advice. But I have to know: what did you think the "next 24 hours" part was for?

EDIT2: Shit - just realized that the OP is probably from CA or somewhere else prone to current forest fire.

Well, I certainly got a good laugh out of the perspective of some poor Joe fighting a forest fire in his backyard using a fire extinguisher :)

Well you pointed out the next extinguisher I'll but for my boat so you can be pleased with yourself a tiny bit.

Yes he's likely near the Santa Rosa/Napa fires that have been going on since Sunday evening.

> As well as that, get an escape ladder for upstairs - ~£30-40 and a blanket for the kitchen - ~£5

These blankets are a bit dangerous on their own - depending on the material (both of the fire source and the blanket) they can essentially act as wicks. Source with pictures: http://www.nachrichten.at/oberoesterreich/Gefahr-bei-Fettbra...

Remember - you are not the only one evacuating. You'll have to compete for the roads, gas stations, hotels, and stores with everyone else evacuating.

Plan to leave way earlier than you have to so you don't stuck or have to wait behind everyone else.

Seconded. Some people wait way too long.


Yes, to add to this, go fuel your vehicle up to the top.

The number one stupid mistake a person can make is not leaving when they have the opportunity. Just leave.

It's a fire. It can kill you. Nothing the internet says will make it safe. There is no trick. There are no hacks. None of your stuff is worth dying for.

Good luck.

Are you saying he shouldn't do all the preparation and simple insurance precautions first? Your message doesn't make that clear.

OP says they have time. It would make sense to do proper packing and the simple photos and videos of the house.

I doubt anyone is saying to do this stuff if you're in serious imminent danger. And overall following what local authorities are saying is a good thing to do too. Perhaps there's a reason OP shouldn't leave right now. We don't know what's happening there.

If a fire fighter says, "Your house may burn down in the next 24 hours," they are not opining that you should stay. They are advising you to leave. They just don't have the time and/or personality disposition to argue with someone operating under the effects of Dunning-Kruger syndrome when it comes to mortal risk.

The median time of "the next 24 hours" is twelve hours away. The first quartile is six or fewer hours away. The worst case is not a homeowner's insurance headache. It's dying. All of those are premises of the statement "Your house might burn down in the next 24 hours."

If a doctor told the OP, "If you don't do X, there is a good chance you will die in the next 24 hours," what priority should the OP place on X versus photographing their household's personal property?

You're making a bunch of assumptions from a vague OP post.


"in the next 24 hours"

You forgot to read the title.

Western Montana Reporting: Since we burned over a million acres this summer I can add that you should save all your receipts while you are out of your home. Things such as food and lodging are most likely going to be reimbursed by your home owners policy and isn't something most folks think of when this particular situation arises.

Remember, for most people on HN you have a perfect device for recording your receipts, and it probably auto-uploads them to at least one cloud provider as well.

Take pictures of receipts before you even walk out of the store, or on the passenger seat of your car. That may or may not be acceptable for returns, but for recordkeeping it's the way to go.

Turn on the lawn sprinklers and faucets to flood the house. Cut down any close trees. If you can, hose the roof. Keep windows closed and put flammables in the basement

From Reddit: omeowner turned his sprinklers on before leaving to escape a Kansas wildfire. He came home to the only house saved.


The comments in the reddit post from professionals stated that the sprinklers were not very useful for that purpose and advise against it:


Not to mention that, if everyone does this, the water pressure will be decreased where the fire trucks need it. If the fire turns out not to threaten your property you’ll feel like the worlds’ biggest jerk.

Actually, no where does he advise against it. Did you even read the comments? He said "The sprinklers could have helped, but I just see solid defensible space. Trees are limbed up, grass is maintained, no dead veg on the property, no trees taller than the roof that would put litter into the gutters."

That's not what they said: "As a former wildland fire fighter I can tell you the sprinklers made a huge difference but..."

24 hrs is too late to cut down trees. The amount of flammable branches left around is too high of a risk. That's a week or so beforehand type job.

City mandated drought resistant front yard with mulch and drip system. :/

Two story house, so hosing the roof is hard, but it's tile at least.

Northern California, so basements are pretty much non-existant.

Faucets left on is an interesting idea, but given the fire is leaving flat slabs in its wake, not sure how much it will help. Probably can't hurt though.


I'd hate to disagree, and I hope you're not wasting too much time, if it's a big fire, fuck the house, you should be concentrating on your family. Family first, then necessities(water/food/clothing). Everything else is bullshit.

We've been packed since 7am Monday when the initial scare hit, but stuff looks to be taking a turn for the worse tonight. Theres a lot of variables in play, but my wild guess would be maybe a 20% chance of it reaching my neighborhood, but not for many hours. This puts me in the situation of being able to be a bit more methodical than I have been so far.

Hmm methodical is good, just don't be too sure about how quickly a fire can move. A slight shift in the wind and a better combustible can make an amazing difference in speed.

I read once you should run the AC at max, something about keeping the attic and house cooler can help it avoid spontaneously catching fire from close heat.

AC units also typically dehumidify air, which is the last thing you want in a bushfire.

Though the air is already so dry I’m not sure it makes much of a difference.

I think it'd be much preferable to turn the power off before leaving.

And especially the gas.

Does this really help? Is coming back to a half-burned-down house better than coming back to a house that's completely burned down?

It might let you recover things you couldn't take, like family photos or computers, etc.

There are several news stories that show similar benefits.

Have a quick look at http://www.survivalistboards.com, particularly the Manmade and Natural Disasters section and the Disaster Preparedness General Discussion section. There's a lot of collective wisdom on the site.

I would pay careful attention to the air quality. I would keep some eye drops handy and a wash cloth, handkerchief, or bandana that you could wet and cover your nose and mouth.

Check in with neighbors, friends, and family periodically as situation progresses. Let others know your plans.

Have your car filled with gas and ready to go. Be prepared for a minimum of 2 evacuation routes.

I would keep abreast of local news and probably set alarm clock to re-check every few hours during the night.

Bring a warm jacket, OP. It's the last thing you think about in the summer heat, but if you somehow end up standing around on a lonely road in the middle of the night, it gets surprisingly cold, even in California! And take some pictures of your house the way it looks now. You'll really treasure them someday in the future, telling your kids, this is the house we lived in before the fire.

Stay safe, hope the wind is favorable.

So sorry to hear this. As for documents, focus on those you'll need to prove your identity and financial position. Things that come to mind are:

Drivers licenses


Birth certificates

Social security cards (not technically ID but good to have)

Insurance documents (home, auto, health, life, anything else)

Property deeds or rental agreements for real estate, vehicles, any other major physical investments (own a boat? a tractor?)

Latest statements from bank accounts, credit cards, etc (digital copies will suffice - this is more about making sure you have account numbers, etc.)


Paperwork from any corporate entities you may own or agreements such as stock option plans (digital may suffice here as well)

A digital copy (photos on phone if necessary) of your last year's tax documents

Photos of your last few pay stubs (if they're not already digital)

Any financial vehicles whose ownership depends on physical documents, such as bearer bonds

If you have documents relating to care of relatives (guardianship, power of attorney, DNR), bring those

If you have a will, make sure you have a copy (digital or otherwise).

Any other licensing documentation you might expect to want to refer to without having to ask the issuing body for a replacement (firearms licenses, medical licenses, marriage licenses, etc.)

Any documents relating to medical history or prescriptions

Contact info for everyone you know (this may already be digital, but some people do still keep Rolodexes or little black books)

Keys to any and all the things (shed, office, storage unit, safety deposit box, whatever)

You'll likely want to bring with you any laptops and external hard drives you own. If you're somewhat electronics savvy and have a desktop computer, consider extracting its drive too and taking that with you.

And of course, it's the things with sentimental value that are hardest to replace. You can always buy a new stereo system or replace a pair of jeans you left behind (even if you have to wear the jeans you did take until they fall apart and play music over a $20 pair of computer speakers while you save up to replace that tuner). You can never replace your photographs, your favorite stuffed animal from childhood, your grandmother's jewelry.

Good luck!

This might actually be my favorite post in the thread. It's a nice list and it doesn't require leaving the page to visit links. Having it in one spot is a handy thing, especially while in the midst of a stressful situation.

Panic will probably harm more people than fire or smoke. Anything to reduce stress is a good thing.

It is unrealistic, but it would be nice, to have everyone take some lessons in coping with emergencies. There are almost certainly local classes in emergency preparedness, and some varied levels associated with it.

So, in addition to the fine list above, I'd suggest that folks consider such courses in the near future - as well as taking refresher courses. My area has drills and training for citizen/volunteer search and rescue, more so than dealing with other disasters. They even offer free first aid training and classes for pay with some certifications as the result.

If anyone is interested, I'd check with your local fire department, EMTs, or police.

As others have said, I would walk through the house with a video camera and get every inch of it on tape. Both as evidence as well as a reminder to yourself of everything you owned.

I would also take a look at your policy and look for things that are not covered under traditional home owners. Things that come to mind are jewelry, art, and sometimes computers. Jewelry especially being high value and easy to evacuate with you.

Best of luck. Will be thinking of you all.

USPS will automatically put a 'hold' on your mail when the home is unsafe for delivery and you'll have to pick it up from the local PO. It may be best to forward it to another residence.


During Hurricane Matthew, Fedex delivered a package to my door while the island I live on was under a mandatory evacuation order. The package got destroyed. My advice is to contact the sender and have them put a hold on it.

At least according to UPS they will not deliver to places under evacuation notice.


> At least according to UPS they will not deliver to places under evacuation notice.

That's UPS, not USPS. I wouldn't really trust either one of them, but if there's one I'd trust to do the obviously wrong thing, it's USPS.

Hi, I'm in Mendocino County and we are concerned about the same thing. Here is the framework I put together yesterday, hope it can be helpful. There are some useful PDFs linked at the bottom of the document.


That's a good list. Thanks.

Aussie here, lived in extreme fire danger areas most of my life so this is a situation I've been in several times.

0. Yourself. If you die, all of the stuff below is largely irrelevant to you. Don't stick around, don't try to defend your property unless you've gone to great lengths to make it defensible.

1. Pets. If anyone leaves a pet behind to be burned alive, they also deserve to be burned alive.

2. Documents; titles, wills, deeds, insurance, medical stuff, tax stuff, identification, anything important. If you have a filing cabinet, consider just wheeling the whole thing out (if possible) and putting it in the back of your car, if there's a fire bearing down on you don't waste time sorting through stuff.

3. 24 - 48 hours worth of supplies. Water is essential, also consider food bars, batteries, and of course any medication. In fact, I'd consider having a go bag of this stuff on hand and ready to go every summer if you live in a fire danger area.

4. A radio. You need to know what's going on, and a radio is one of the best ways to do this during a fire.

5. Medication, again. Don't forget your meds, or your families, or your pets.

Once you have that sort of stuff in order, second priorities;

1. Get some photos of the inside and outside of your house. Insurance companies are scum and will try and get out of holding up their end of your policy however they can.

2. Collect up irreplaceable stuff like photos, hard drives etc.

3. Time permitting, move any fuel (as in stuff that burns) away from your house.

4. Time still permitting, block up your gutters and fill them with water. Also seal any windows as best you can and move anything flammable away from them.

5. As you're leaving, turn on all your sprinklers if you have them.

Ideally, you want to be out of there long before the fire is anywhere near you. We get told to make the decision to stay or go about 24 hours before our properties are threatened by the fire but it's not always easy to know when or if that's going to happen. But if you can see the fire in the distance I'd suggest going RIGHT NOW, and if you can see flames and they're reasonably close then it may be too late to leave safely.

> 3. 24 - 48 hours worth of supplies. Water is essential, also consider food bars, batteries, and of course any medication.

The region that's on fire is like an hour's drive away from Berkeley. Unless you anticipate camping on the freeway, I don't see how 48 hours of water is really an essential. The supply chain isn't in much danger except in the very local area you would be evacuating.

This is more blanket advice rather than anything specific to OP's situation.

In Australia we've had bush fires hit remote communities who've then been short on all sorts of supplies for days at a time. Not to mention in having an extra days worth of 'stuff' you'll have enough to go around.

On 2nd #4: What's a good way to block 5-10 gutters/downspouts?

Not an easy way to do it really unless you plan to do it ahead of time and go buy a cap or and expanding plug. I wouldn't recommend stuffing some rags or anything down one as they're both flammable and absorbent so the water may just go right through it over time.

The idea is you want to make it harder for the fire to get a foothold on your roof - that's a death sentence for the house in most cases.

Stuff a rag partway down the drain pipe, and fill to the top with expanding PU foam (also known as spray foam). It's used in construction to fill gaps, such as between door frames and walls.

Is it ideal? No. Is it a pain in the ass to remove? Yeah, kinda.

But it expands and hardens to a watertight closed-cell foam plug, which is what you want. If you have a hardware store nearby, it's relatively inexpensive.

That's a good idea, didn't even think of foam. Thanks!


You are an asshole

I have to know, what'd that post say? I love internet fights

If you really want to know, go to your user profile and turn on the "showdead" setting.

Fair warning: it was vile.

America has internalized Disney-esque values about certain animals. I'm from rural Alaska and you'll pardon my not having any illusions about whether nature is in fact red in tooth and claw. Pets are no more important than any other possession. They are not human, and they can be easily replaced. They are chattel: that is a fact, not an opinion.

I asked my cat what she thought of your opinion.

She yawned lazily and said, "Please inform your misguided friend that we are not chattel. Thank you."

Most people are attached to their pets, whether or not that attachment has a basis is cold hard rational thought is largely irrelevant. There's no need to be so rude about it either, if you had of just posted this earlier instead of what you originally posted, you might have started an actual conversation.


BTW, thanks for the tip!

This might only apply for a select few members, but: pillow and plushies (if you are leaving in a car which, given the USA, I will presume you do). If you are accustomed to a given pillow you can get pretty miserable when your neck / back decides to rebel after sleeping on an unfamiliar one. And, again, this is personal but to some, plushies are nearly as important as pets to others. I am 42, male, and travel with a teddy bear whom I got in 1988.

My house burned down one year ago (technically one year, tomorrow). The firefighters wouldn't allow me to go in and save things, but I snuck in when they were busy on my neighbor's house and was able to save my dog. Our cat, sadly, didn't make it. Neither did 99% of our belongings.

This how I would prioritize, based on my horrific experience:

1. People (obviously). Your safety is the most important part.

2. Pets

3. Irreplaceable sentimental items.

4. IDs, marriage certificates, birth certificates, passports, etc. I lost all but my driver's license in the fire and I'm still in the process of getting some of these documents replaced. This is particularly sucky if you are an immigrant like I am, where to get a new passport, you need a citizenship certificate, and to get a citizenship certificate you need a birth certificate, and to get a birth certificate you need a document from your country of origin, etc. It's a mess. Grab those documents.

5. Irreplaceable items that are important, but don't necessarily have sentimental value. Some of your digital data might fit this category. Having a backup in the cloud is a great idea.

6. Valuable items that are expensive to replace. Cameras, laptops, etc.

7. Anything else you still have room and time to get.

The insurance company will likely make you go through hell to get your money. So take photos and videos of all your belongings BEFORE they burn down. If you have offline receipts, take them with you or scan them before you lose them. Online receipts are easier to find, of course.

Best of luck to you. I hope your house is spared.

Turn off your natural gas line at the meter.

I would turn off the water lines as well. On the chance the house doesn't burn but is damaged, preventing water damage and flooding may make some property significantly more salvageable.

(Unless the house has sprinklers, of course, or other fire suppression, obviously.)

Fire suppression systems that I'm familiar with, which is absolutely not all, don't rely on an external water supply. They use stored water, often mixed with some oily substance that prevents corrosion, and are gravity or bladder fed.

Not that this helps, I just figure it is interesting and one less thing to worry about at a stressful time.

They usually don't require power or external water because those can be disrupted. I only know this because I've been involved in having a few systems installed and am not an expert.

The house is only a few years old, so has the state mandated sprinkler system. Interestingly, it does get fed off the water main, which I know because it prevented me from getting a house wide water softening system. It's a 2" main because it needs to feed all the sprinklers, and it has a notice posted that it's illegal to impede the flow because of that (and a softening system that could handle that is much more expensive).

I'm sure they have a reason for it. There's no storage tank to supply it?

The systems I'm familiar with were all commercial, so that may be why I'm unfamiliar with them being fed from the main. I had to deal with getting a couple of commercial buildings done. I am not completely certain, but I think both of those systems were completely independent of the municipal water supply. I'm 99% certain, at least.

> There's no storage tank to supply it?

Not that I'm aware of, which means I'm pretty sure not. It might be that at the house level, a single house isn't expected to draw so much water, while in a larger structure it's probably possible to overwhelm any feasible main that could be expected if a bunch of sprinklers go off. Even if the main can handle it, maybe there isn't a large enough connections to specific portions of the building from the main which causes water starvation. I imagine there's lots of insidious details when scaling to a large building which aren't immediately obvious.

In both cases I experienced, it was a big giant tank up on the roof of the building. It was separate from the fire suppression system in the server room.

I can see why there would be different systems and code requirements for residential construction. Come to think of it, whilst you could put the tank in an attic space - or use a bladder system, it would occupy a lot of space and I'm not sure residential construction would support the weight of the system.

I noticed in the US that: They build houses with lots of wood and fill them with woody stuff. They build houses nearby lots of trees with no spacing between them.

This seems like a disaster waiting to happen, and well it happened multiple times?

Why can't the regulation do the following:

- A mandatory buffer zone between the forest and housing.

- Mandatory no wood/cement-only houses in zones of higher risk.

- Mandatory no linked trees with your neighbors, so that the fire doesn't find a favorable environment to spread.

> Mandatory no wood/cement-only houses in zones of higher risk.

This isn't the only reason, but concrete buildings have a massive carbon footprint, much more so than wooden ones. For densely-populated areas, it's fine, but for single-family homes, it's incredibly environmentally wasteful.

Don't forget earthquakes. They're common in California where the wildfires are now.

I'd bet that (crazy made up number) 100x more people die in earthquakes in concrete structures than they do in the typical stick-frame single family homes that are common in the USA. Stick-frame houses simply don't "collapse".

But maybe a lot of the collapses I see on TV are because of either non-existent building codes or because nobody followed the code. Poor quality rebar and poor quality concrete?

But about carbon footprint for concrete, maybe it's not as bad as you say. If a concrete or brick structure lasts 100 or 200 years, might it not be better than a stick-frame structure torn down in 50 years?

The amount of stick-frame homes that don't burn down would shock you.

Isn't it something to do with hurricanes? They happen so often that it's cheaper to just build houses from wood and rebuild them when they get destroyed.

I'm from Australia. We've had some pretty bad fires here.

I don't have any particular advice on what to take, but I do have some general advice:

Don't fuck around.

Even when you know it's going to be bad, it's going to be worse. A fire will move faster than you think is possible and get hotter than you can imagine.

The silver puddle on the ground here is melted alloy wheels: http://www.abc.net.au/news/image/286660-3x2-700x467.jpg

This bit is worth watching. https://youtu.be/dpvM6FoUwMI?t=5734

Do you have an egress plan? Multiple routes planned out?

If you and the family separate for some reason (i.e. Work or grocery shopping) do other people have an egress plan without you? A defined meet up spot?

Know where the nearest large body of water is? If you are cut off from escape, it is possible to survive some fires from inside a body of water.

I imagine you've seen it already,but ready.gov has a checklist: https://www.ready.gov/evacuating-yourself-and-your-family

Bdale Garbee: Disaster Recovery Lessons I Hoped I'd Never Have to Learn [linux.conf.au 2014]


The main item I remember was that his wife (who was not home at the time) had different priorities to what he did, so maybe ask the rest of your family.


The Black Forest Fire started on 11 June 2013 in Colorado, US, and quickly set a record for the most homes destroyed by a single forest fire in state history... 511 homes were completely destroyed, including Bdale's.

Thanks to careful disaster recovery planning driven both by Bdale's history in the IT industry, and by the proximity of the Waldo Canyon fire less than a year prior, it was only a few days before the return of gag.com and related sites to the Internet began. But not everything went according to plan...

This talk will review the plans made and state of gag.com resources at the time of the fire, what went right and wrong during mandatory evacuation, and how we put things back together after the abrupt and dramatic change in lifestyle mandated by the move to an apartment.

I had the pleasure of chilling with Bdale about 16 years ago when I worked at Progeny. Besides being generally personable he has an amazing wealth of stories to tell (and has obviously picked up a few more since then).

Maybe more Mad Max than Santa Rosa:

If you have 2 non-EV cars, a way to siphon gas into the "good" car, before you leave, to top off the tank: https://www.harborfreight.com/multi-use-transfer-pump-63144....

I can't stress this enough, but you need to have a plan with your family.

When the fire is near enough to cause power outages, your cell phones may not work.

This site is -very- useful.


You may have something similar in your area.

Sorry to hear about your predicament. It's terrible to hear some of the stories coming out of Santa Rosa and other parts of Northern California.

Lost our home to fire some years ago. Amazingly, some of my paper documents survived because they were stored in an under-bed drawer that filled with water when the fire department hosed it down.

I was thinking that maybe you could take heavier, hard-to-move small items (silverware or a china set), or bulkier items like books, old records, second-tier paperwork, or home decorations, and wrap them in garbage bags or place them in a container, place them in the bathtub (or large sink, or even a top-loaded washing machine) and then submerge them in water.

No guarantee that they'll survive, but they will have a better chance.

This is among the better guides I've seen.

In addition to documentation and preparation generally:

* Communicate and plan ahead with your family and/or household. I would strongly recommend that if there is someone who can not (or will not) cooperate under crisis conditions, evacuate them in advance. Fighting with others in a life-critical situation is about the worst possible complication. (Dementia, personality disorders, age/disability, etc.)

* Have a bug-out bag ready. In your vehicle if at all possible. Take what you need, and cannot easily replace. Leave everything else.

* Plan multiple escape routes, and have multiple plans ready. A critical element of fire disasters is that normally-safe routes suddenly aren't (and are clogged with panicked people unfamiliar with the area).

* Set priorities now. Realise that if you need to take on passengers or change vehicles, you may not be able to keep everything you've put in your own car. I'd err on the sider of under-packing.

* Moving flammable items away from windows may help your house. Curtains, any lightweight or synthetic fabrics, especially.

* Do not leave taps running, but if you have hoses do leave them connected to spigots. Pre-damping surrounding areas may help, but turn off water before you leave to preserve water pressure. (There's more such advice in this link.)

* Have multiple copies of data, and hardcopies of maps, plans, contact, and related information.

* Pre-arrange an emergency / reconnection contact, preferably well outside the emergency area. Realise that phone and other comms services may be down.

* If you have pets, get them squared away, and perhaps keep them in cages ready to go until the danger passes.

There are numerous other steps that can be taken, though much of that should have been done a while ago. Those who aren't waiting for flames to march down (or up) the ridgeline might start thinking of those.

The Bdale Garbee list is a solid one as well, listed elsewhere.


This happened to me years ago. The fire stopped a couple of miles short of our place luckily but we were in the evacuation readiness mode for a few days, flaming chunks of tree falling from the sky in the yard etc.

Basically I just worked my way down in value/density order: light, small, valuable things first into the cars. But first I drove to the ranch supply place and bought 15 garden hoses and sprinkler heads and set them up to wet down the area around the house and the roof. Again luckily the well didn't run dry. Then I photographed the entire house interior.

Good luck and stay safe.

If you buy a lot of stuff on Amazon, your downloadable order history can save you a lot of time when you need to inventory your possessions for your insurance company.

(proflific Amazon/online shopper, lost home and all possessions in a fire last year)

Read this, the best advice about insurance that I've read in any place:


To quote a bit:

Remember to list everthing-- even the most mundane fucking bullshit you can think of. For example, if I was writing up the shower in my bathroom: Designer Shower Curtain - $35 Matching Shower Curtain Liner for Designer Shower Curtain - $15 Shower Curtain Rings x20 - $15 Stainless Steel Soap Dispenser for Shower - $35 Natural Sponge Loofah - from Whole Foods - $15 Natural Sponge Loofah for Back - from Whole Foods - $19 Holder for Loofahs - $20 Bars of soap - from Lush - $12 each (qty: 4) Bath bomb - from Lush - $12 High end shampoo - from salon - $40 High end conditioner - from salon - $40 Refining pore mask - from salon - $55 I could probably keep thinking, and bring it up to about $400 for the contents of my shower

Food/water, clothing(warm weather and cold), phone chargers!!! if you have time (never ever risk for this), mementos (not photos, they are a waste - I lost all mine to a fire previously),now only if you have a lot of time (do not even think about it it you don't ). Hard drives -pca/laptops are a waste of time.

The most important rule. IF YOU CAN SEE THE FIRE AT ALL, GO.

I'm an Aussie, from the country, we saw a lot of fires when I was growing up. It moves soich faster than you can imagine. In good condition ditiona it can go faster than you can drive.

Be careful, gods speed buddy.

Edit, as mentioned : if safe turn off gas.

2nd edit as techjuice said: legal documents and video, but this is the last thing. Documents won't help your family if you don't get out.

Look I'm not kidding about how fast fire can move, if you can see it, it's panic time.

Also, I emailed you, if you need to ask a question, drop me a email with your skype, I'll call and answer anything I can.

Edit: email I sent to op, for anyone else's info:

Okay, now I'm sorry if some things sound like I'm talking down to you. I'm just going to explain as I know it (also forgive typos I'm on a phone).

Driving through a fire- even on a road is not a plan. Ever. It starves the engine of oxygen and the vehicle will stall. Bad place for it. Only ever do it if it's an emergency.

Fire will move faster than you. Yes it takes days sometimes to move a few hundred feet, but Murphy is an arsehole and fire can move faster than you can drive, if the conditions are right.

Clothing; hot and cold, you don't know where you will be, pure cotton is better than synthetic, synth melt if your in fire, melting is worse than burn.(you have to take it out of the skin if it melts).

Water, lots.

First aid kits: if you have it bring it, alovera plants are an amazing treatment for burns, snap a small part off and run the juice over the burn. If there is a burn with a melt(eg clothing, plastic etc), and if it's safe, do not pour cold water on, it will set the melt, try and remove as much as possible (without touching the burn), before applying water.

I'll write more after this email. If you are forced to drive through fire, a)very. Fucking. Dangerous. B) all windows up, clothing(cotton) around mouth and nose. Be. Careful.(gods I hope you don't get into this)

Again. If you can see the fire, get. Out.

I don't have much more for during the fire, some people recommend sprinklers, watering roof etc, I believe that's an edge case. Yes if you have time, it may help, but there is no reason to risk your family for it.

Lives can be rebuilt, life cannot.

Also, if you have time, throw out all food in your fridge and freezer that you aren’t taking with you. If your house ends up being fine, it may be without power for a long period of time and you may not be able to go back home right away. It will save you from cleaning up a real mess afterwards. Also clean your dishes if there is time, for the same reasons.

Put a quarter on top of a frozen cup of water in your freezer. If it's still there when you get back, you haven't lost power for a long enough time for your frozen food to thaw. If it sank to the bottom of the cup, toss out all the food.

Shit really good point, I'd forgotten that (been a while since I did the drills).

Does the trash day happen within the same 24 hours?

> The most important rule. IF YOU CAN SEE THE FIRE AT ALL, GO.

Actually, listen to local authorities, if you can see the fire then there's a good chance that it's too late. I'm sure you're aware of our newer "stay or go" procedures and that these decisions must often be taken 12-24 hours in advance. You don't want to be one of those tragic images of a burnt out car on the road while you were trying to evacuate.

If OP is asking on HN now then I think it's safe to say they don't have a well thought out evacuation plan and should leave ASAP if it's still safe to do so, just take the phone, wallet and a few clothes.

I would assume OP is up on whatever local authorities are advising and is posting to HN (at least in part) as an alternative to running around flailing arms and screaming like Kermit the Frog. I approve such choices and am happy to participate in helping them try to stay calm and do something vaguely constructive in the face of this.

Hmm I'm on two minds about this, I don't know what it's like in the us, but in aus, when there's a fire we get constant updates about position and direction.

If you are unsure, I'll certainly agree, be. Fucking. Careful.

Otherwise, staying seems like a bad plan(cavet yes I know I know, but shit. If it's coming towards toh, go, if there is akm firebreak between you don't, I can't cover everything edge case)

Staying is an awful plan right up until the point where it isn't. That point depends on local factors like which roads you can take. If there is only one access road and it's in the fires path with no time to escape then you're better off taking your chances at home with a garden hose or swimming pool. A significant number of the black Saturday deaths were from people that left evacuation too late: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Saturday_bushfires

The same could be said for leaving is an awful plan until it isn't.

I don't disagree with you, it's risky either way, and I only have my own personal experience to go from (which was dense bush to near the house), so I can't give op a definite plan. Not without knowing a lot more than I do, what I do know though, is leaving 24 hours before it arrives, is a lot safer than either of the previous options. Worst case scenario ario, a little fuel is wasted.

An above-ground pool or water tank is a bad place to go. In-ground can be a little better. If you're trapped and there's no way out, go for it, but don't depend on a water store to save you.

Unbelievably, and as a complete shock to me given the fire-prone nature of this area, there is almost no information available other than "the fire was here". We all went on line expecting such simple and fundamental information, but there is none to be found. It is truly disgraceful that they don't have anything better than it's fine/evacuate. I literally need to check twitter/facebook once I am done typing this comment.

Edit: Just found a good facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/SCScanner/

Yeah, the maps available all seem to use satellite data that updates once a night. The Santa Rosa Firestorm Update facebook group[1] is probably good for on the ground updates, and sub-groups are springing up for specific neighborhoods next in the path as well.[2]

1: https://www.facebook.com/groups/586292148428439/

2: https://www.facebook.com/groups/208796179660535/

FWIW, some documents still help your family even if you don't get out. Trust Documents, Life Insurance Policies, Last Will and Testament, etc.

Don't bring shit you can buy back afterwards, bring all the stuff thats irreplaceable to safety and else the essential things like clothes and food. recharge your phone and push all your files to the cloud from your computer.

Id cards

Bank code generator

University diplomas

Your external hardrive containing a backup of your most important files (you of course have this ready)

Any favourite item that you don't want to lose, hardcopy photos of loved ones or memories such as that.

Your favourite blazer.

If you have time, video your stuff for insurance. Go through drawers, closets, boxes. Narrate it.

Is this hypothetical or do you think it’s unsafe for some reason?

I live in Santa Rosa. Friends have already lost houses. Family in other locations will likely get an evac order within hours. Wind is expected to pick up tonight, and the fire is coming over another hill (pics of it cresting were posted) and that area has already gotten evac orders. 2000+ structures have already burned.

They mention in the comments that they are in northern California where there are large wildfires burning.

15 people have died and hundreds of structures have been destroyed.


Structural losses are now in the thousands.

"At least 2,000 homes and commercial facilities have been destroyed in the fires, which are burning in Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Lake, Nevada, Butte, Calaveras, Shasta, and Yuba counties. A fire station in the Fountaingrove area of Santa Rosa was among the ravaged structures."


Yeah, the NYT article listed 2,000 when I posted it but I have a style preference for describing small thousands as hundreds.

This is beyond real. Story here is of the home of Sonoma State University's president. Her husband didn't have time to grab his glasses as she ran in yelling that the house was already on fire.


I'd guess he's just asking. I stress enough about whether I've packed the right stuff for vacation. If I was under the pressure of a raging forest fire coming for my home[1], I would not be able to confidently tell you that "yes, I got the necessary stuff, let's evacuate". A checklist would be great to have. (And is a great reason, I suppose, to have a plan for emergencies beforehand, though I don't intend to berate the OP here. I'm just as unprepared, I feel.)

[1]: I am presuming that the poster is north of the Bay Area; the smoke from the fires up there obscured Oakland from view of SF this morning, and the smell of the fire was all over. Eerie as heck, and I'm thankful to be on this side of the Bay. Co-workers reported accidentally leaving a window open and returning to a thin layer of ash covering stuff.

probably to do with the current wildfires in Santa Rosa, Sonoma and Napa regions of Northern California.

Thanks, so those on HN not living in US knows what is going on. And may god bless them.

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