Since 2004, September is recognized as National Preparedness Month in the United States. While here in the mid-Atlantic we escape most natural disasters – wildfires, tornados, hurricanes, and blizzards – at one time or another, our area has seen damage due to these events. And, all of us are vulnerable to extended power outages, house fires, local flooding or even water damage from something as simple as a plumbing leak. There are many resources online, including www.fema.gov, which detail how to plan and implement household emergency kits and evacuations, but let’s focus on a few things you can do around your home that can protect your possessions in the unlikely event of a disaster. What is the best way to protect your possessions in the event of an emergency? Preparation and Planning!
First off, you should have an evacuation plan written out, talked about, and practiced by every member of your household. You should have two versions of this plan – an immediate evacuation for imminent danger when the only goal is to save lives; and an evacuation plan that would allow the collection of a few key belongings, most often during mandatory or voluntary storm evacuations. Everyone should also know where to meet and how to communication once evacuated; the safest place to assemble inside your home if it is necessary to shelter in place; and where emergency supplies are kept. Items such as flashlights, batteries, water, non-perishable food, pet supplies, and a first aid kit should be stored and accessible in every home.
Start by knowing the whereabouts of your important documents and valuables. The best way to store important documents such as the deed to your home, insurance and investment certificates, birth certificates and passports is in an offsite safe deposit box at your local bank branch. These items can also be scanned and stored digitally, but often original documents are required when needed, so having offsite secure storage is really a must.
Creating a photographic and written inventory of your possessions, along with an approximation of value, is invaluable if items are lost or damaged. This can also be digitally stored, but remember the importance of backing up your computer as well. Store your computer’s digital files on an external storage drive or in cloud storage.
As anyone who’s been through a disaster – whether as a victim, first responder or relief worker – will tell you, when it comes to possessions, the loss of irreplaceable items such as photographs, is one the hardest things to endure. Take the time to scan your older photos, and store the digital files. Consider placing your most cherished items together – smaller items in a fireproof storage box, and larger items in plastic waterproof containers. These are perfect projects for the coming cooler months, and your entire family can participate! If you are ever under an evacuation order and have time to pack your car, having those items easily accessible and stored together is key. In the moment, it will be hard to remember what to take with you and where it is located.
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If you’re ready to invest in a home that is built with your needs in mind, trust in us. Give Columbia Builders a call today at 410-730-0215 or use our contact form here. You can also keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Houzz, and Youtube, and don’t forget to check back on our blog for more tips and information!