When Disaster Strikes . . . Saving Important Papers and Vital Documents

In the event of a disaster, the last thing that you need to be doing is running around from room to room gathering important papers and vital documents. Passports, social security cards, birth certificates, a marriage license, adoption decrees, and a plethora of financial statements, medical records, and passwords (never ever forget the passwords) as well as your favorite family photos, old movies and sentimental keepsakes. . . Wow! That is a LOT of stuff to be gathered, and there is just NO way you are going to be able to grab it all, and safely run out the door at a moment’s notice. So, what can you do to ensure that in the event of a disaster you will have not only things deemed necessary to “starting over”, but also be able to save the sentimental items that you hold dear ? You make a plan. Not tomorrow, but today…right now, at this very moment… you begin.

Disasters happen every single day, and chances are that in your life time, there will be some sort of emergency that warrants you having to run out of your home quickly. Fires, floods, and an array of natural and sometimes man made disasters can come your way very unexpectedly, forcing you to leave your home immediately  with very little notice (sometimes, with just the clothes on your back).  Although you cannot be prepared for every single thing that may come your way, you can take the time to gather, organize, and put a plan in place for your family to assure that you have the best chance of walking away safely AND still having the important documents necessary for starting over.

So . . . make a list of things you would NEED to start all over again, then add to that list sentimental things that you would WANT (remember, you don’t have a lot of space, so really think about what is important).  A Social Security card is at the top of the list, followed by a Birth Certificate, Marriage License or Divorce Decree, Adoption or Custody Papers, and even your Will would go in the “necessary” pile. Next, gather your financial statements-numbers of bank accounts, credit cards, or loans. If you are a traveler, find your Passport and throw it into the pile too. Make sure that you have ALL of the passwords to each of your accounts written down somewhere and add them to your ever increasing pile of “necessities” as well. Next comes your medical records. If you battle an ongoing illness, or have reason to keep your medical records at home, add them to the pile too. Now it’s time to tackle the “sentimental” stuff. Favorite family photographs, old movies, or special keepsakes that are irreplaceable, need to find a spot also. By now, your pile should be big … really, really, really, big…and that’s good, that means that you have been thoughtful and intentional to what you would NEED and what you would WANT if you ever have to start over again (which we really, really, really hope that you don’t).

Now, here is where the work begins, make copies, notice I added an “s” as in several. We aren’t talking one copy of each, but at least 2 or 3. When you have copied everything possible, make 3 distinct piles. Each pile will end up in a different place. Now you can make as many piles as you want, but I think that three is a good number. Here is where you are going to need to invest a bit of money, not a lot, but definitely some. Purchase 2 fire proof safes. One to keep at your home, and one to keep at a trusted family member or friend’s home. You can buy a good safe for less than $100 at any Home Improvement or Retail store. Fill each safe with 1 copy of each thing you would like to save, and then take it to your trusted place and give them a key, and a keep a key for yourself. Now, not that your friend cannot have a disaster as well, but chances are, they probably wont have a disaster at the very same time that you do, so keeping your safe at their home should should give you an extra layer of protection against loosing everything.

Next, it’s time to fill an envelope and head to the bank and invest in a safe deposit box. Now, you can fit a lot more in these than you think, but still, try to consolidate only what you need, instead of bringing everything but the kitchen sink! Again, have a key for yourself, your spouse, or person that you trust as well.

Finally, fill that last fireproof safe up and find the perfect spot to keep it in your home. Maybe it’s in your bedroom closet, maybe it’s in the coat closet near the front door, maybe it’s safely tucked under the living room sofa. There is really no wrong place to keep your safe. Just remember, in the event of an emergency, you want to be able to grab it and run right out of the house as quickly as possible.

Now, chances are, that in the event of a disaster, at least 1 set of your important papers and most likely, even 2 sets will still be be safe and sound, ready and available to help you move forward and start over in rebuilding a new life.  Although it is truly our hope and prayer that you never ever find yourself needing to open these safes and begin again, it is so good to know that the things inside will help make for a much smoother transition in starting over again and moving forward in the rebuilding process.

Always, be sure to keep watch around your house, aware of anything that could potentially cause an emergency situation. Stay in a routine of regularly changing the batteries in your smoke detector, invest in a carbon monoxide detector, even consider purchasing a flood alarm for your sump pump, and should you ever smell gas, leave the house immediately and call 911. Do what you can to prevent disasters and to be prepared for them, and be sure to pass on your wisdom and knowledge to those you know and love.

Wishing you and your family safety and protection, at all times. If for any reason you do face a disaster, Duraclean is ALWAYS ready to go 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days  a year to get the job done! Call ANY time 410-838-7330. Remember, No One is Faster to the Disaster!