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How will you know if your plan works, if you haven't tried it?

Sometimes life is moving so fast we hardly have time to complete the "must" in our routines. Go to work feed the kids, drive them to activities, do homework, support spouse in their schedules, attend church (if you do so), do chores, write checks or auto-payment on bills, grocery shop, prepare dinners, and maybe get some much needed rest. So for those who opt to be part of the 5% (10% if I'm having a good day) I ask, when do you do your preparedness measures, read and educate, built plans and the preparedness things we need to do? Are you a daily preparer? Weekly? Monthly? Or you just like to hang out with people who prepare because you find it exciting? One of the most important steps in preparing is testing your plans. In my classes and in Hope For Survival I talk in-depth about the importance of knowing your plans are current and will work for you. We are all guilty of not testing our plans often enough. Or pen and inking changes to our plans when something significant changes in the plans. Maybe you switched routes because of road construction. Or, maybe you traded vehicles and no longer drive your new treasure along the older bumpy road even though its quicker from point A to point B. How many of you know where to find your gear and specific equipment you may need? Can you reach and find a flashlight within seconds, if needed in your home? Do you have a 5-5-5 plan built and a Ready Bag to support your 5-5-5 plan? Does your plan adjust for external threats so that you know which direction to go when you leave your home?

Back in 2016, the Gatlinburg, TN area was ravished with fires. We had several months of no rain and it was extremely dry. We had smelled smoke blowing in from NC most of the summer months and in to autumn. Our home is surrounded by water mostly but we have lots of big trees between the water and our home and other homes in the close vicinity. On November 28, the wind was blowing higher than normal and the fires jumped from hill top to hill top, spreading fast. The brave fire fighters had little control over what was taking place. The smoke in the air was so thick it would have been difficult breathing for very long if she had to leave our home to flee. In the dark you could look towards the Gatlinburg area and see the sky lit from the fires. Fourteen people lost their life.

A few miles from the blazing fires, my wife was at our home alone. I was hours away from her and she would have to make decisions and possibly bug out based on her own gut feeling and on scene determination. I was tracking the news best I could from my location and we stayed on the phone as the evening intensified. We lost cell service a couple of times due to the high winds. We discussed the "what ifs" best we could as things moved fast. One of the big "what ifs" was if our nearest cell tower went out or burned and we couldn't communicate. She took a few minutes and gathered the items she would possibly need through the evening in the event the power would fail. Anytime we have heavy prolonged winds the power seems to go out. Bottle water - Check, Head lamp and flashlight - Check, a few energy bars - Check, a small first-aid kit that attaches to her Ready Bag - Check, and so on. She knew her bag at the door contained other essentials she may need, to include a change of clothes in the event she had to get wet in the lake water and trash bags to use as flotation devices in the water. Keep in mind, there was a possibility that our home could burn if the fires jumped a few mountains (I used to live in Montana so they are really hills) so she may need shelter and warmth through the evening. Because we had drilled some previously using preparedness items within our home, she knew where her Ready Bag was located, a mask to aid in her breathing, and multiple means of light to aid her in seeing through the dark and smoke. She was resilient and had it under control completely. Had things gone bad, our alternate plan was my side kick Festus. A true friend and brother who I know is always there when needed. He was two hours closer to my home than I was and he is always a phone call away. He was monitoring the situation from his headquarters in the hills outside the threat area. Like we talk about in training and the book, you need a trusted source outside the impacted area who can communicate if needed. In this case he was outside the area but close enough to respond if called upon. As I often suggest, build your bonds with trusted Patriots.

The area was enduring 70 to 100 mph winds pushing the flames fast. She had a decision to make. She would either leave our home and drive about one mile towards the direction the flames could be in a short time or else maintain at her current location and when the time arrived, leave our home and go about 3/4 of a mile to the lake bed and walk out on the dried dirt area towards the lake water. There was one way out of our neighborhood via automobile. Because TVA drains part of our lake between Oct-May, the water drains from the summer shore line and then leaves about 50 to 100 yards of dirt surface with no vegetation to feed the fires. The concern was the wind and the jumping flames. The lake bed was her other option. We decided the safest place for her to be was on the dirt near the lake water.

A few hours away, a massive rain storm was located near Chattanooga and moving fast across the state of TN towards the out-of-control fires. The question was, would the rain catch the fires before they jumped the last few mountains near our home. Via radar, we tracked the storm and watched it move at the speed of light across the state and begin flooding the fires with heavy rains. If a person had never looked up and thanked God, this was a night to do such a thing because had rain not hit the area and slowed the fires I do believe things would have turned out worse. The fire was no closer than than15 miles at any time in the evening.

So I ask you, what is your plan? Do you have a plan in place? Are you or one of your family members less mobile or immobile? What is your plan to escape quickly if required? Do you have escape ladders to leave upper floors in the event of a fire or intruder who is threatening your family? Think outside the box and run drills in your mind. Put your responses on paper and test them. If you can't do them, you need a new plan.

Stay safe, be safe, keep charging and be blessed.

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