It occurred to me after posting the below (hypothetical inquiry about what I would save from our home in case of a fire/evacuation/misc disaster) that we actually came very close to such an event. It was the spring of 2002, in April, in the middle of spring thunderstorm season in our beloved middle Tennessee.
Laura, 8 months along with Darby and at home under doctor-ordered bed-rest, had settled in for another morning of boring morning television when a unreal clap of thunder exploded outside our den. Lightning struck our neighbor’s home (the electric meter box/pole apparatus) simultaneously sending high voltage to every outlet, light fixture and switch in the house. By the time Laura realized what was happening the house was already well on its way to being the total loss it turned out to be. She estimates that it took under five minutes for the house to be utterly unapproachable. For a while the firefighter trained their hoses on our home to prevent our roof from catching. We had to replace the siding on that side of the house, as the neighbors on the other side and the folks directly behind us. It was some big fire.
Our neighbors were not at home at the time. The husband, a policeman with firefighting training, was, ironically on patrol and was the first responder at the scene (of his own home burning to the ground). By the time he arrived there was nothing to do but stand (in the street due to the heat) and watch his home and its contents burn. They were able to salvage a few photos, some items belonging to the children, and a family quilt. All else was lost. Had they been asleep, there was a possibility of getting out, but not a certainty. Certainly no time to think about what to gather, what to keep, or the like.
That afternoon I purchased a fire safe for photo negatives and some documents we have here (that are not in the lock-box). That evening we watched Laura on the news (it made the news for two days straight, partly due to the fact that our neighbor was a key officer in the Captain-D’s murder investigation, locals will know what I mean by that), made the rounds through the neighborhood with an empty coffee can taking up money for our neighbors, but slept little. Now we have no problem remembering to replace the batteries in our smoke alarms. But we do have difficulty sleeping during thunderstorms.