Before Disaster Strikes Get What Matters Valued and Secured

Before Disaster Strikes Get What Matters Valued and Secured

Waking up to the smell of smoke, an explosion, or feeling the house sinking is frightening.  Even if the disaster happens during the day, families usually have less than TWO minutes!  They need to get out immediately.  Often they lose everything, some of which is not replaceable like family photos, documents and other items.


When a hurricane or flood is approaching there is more time to plan.  I previously recommended packing a bag of important items and bringing supplies ( for these situations.  But in cases of fire, etc. there won’t be time to get the ‘disaster bag.’


Disasters can happen in an instant and they are life-changing events.  To prevent the pain of losing irreplaceable items, time must be taken now rather than “I’ll do it next week/month/year.”


What to do:


Current documents are the easiest to tackle.  Backup an electronic copy of important documents that is easily obtained.  Documents such as birth/marriage/death certificates, driver’s licenses, insurance policy information, bank information can be backed up on various cloud websites.  If family members do not like the cloud, save these items on multiple thumb drives; give copies to one or two trusted family members or friends and put one in a safe deposit box or safe.  Safe deposit keys need to be stored where someone of record can access them in an emergency.  Vital documents can be stored on the cloud using services such as DocuVital. Check with your attorney to ensure he/she has copies of all legal documents such as wills, trusts, living wills, powers of attorney, etc.  User names and passwords should be stored in a safe place.  There are many cloud services that do this.  Two of the most common are Last Pass or Dashlane.


Of course with much time and effort many documents can be replaced after a disaster as can user names and passwords.  But there are many things than cannot be replaced. They are the treasured family documents and photos.  Documents like letters from grandpa to and from grandma when he was at war, diaries, journals about immigrating to America, starting a family, etc.  Photos taken from the 1800’s, 1900’s or even the 2000’s may be the only ones anyone has of important events:  birthdays, weddings, graduations, family reunions, trips.  Preserving these items takes time and often gets put off.  But schedule time now before fate steps in and prevents it from being done.


Household Items:

Inventory all physical items in the home, garage, basement, attic. Take a day and use a smart phone to take a video by room, each item/set of items in the room.  As the video is taken describe the item, brand, when purchased, price.  This may sound tedious, but it will take much more time after the fact as research will be required and many items will be missed or under-valued when reporting to the insurance company.  Backup the videos immediately.  Update the video at least annually and every time major purchases are made.


Treasured Family Items:

Schedule a day to start collecting all special documents and photos.  Start with the documents as they will be fewer in number.  Consider an outside service that will make high quality duplicates so that each family member can have their own copy.  Next collect all photos in one ‘working’ area so you can decide which to keep and copy and which are not as important.  Procedures and outside services for this can be found on the internet.  Allocate time to get the project completed.


Review Insurance Coverage:

It is worthwhile to periodically review insurance coverage as homes and their contents increase in value.  Some people have ‘replacement value coverage’ which is very helpful when a disaster strikes.  However if you can’t prove the contents and their value with records ideally video/photos, description and price, then it will be difficult to obtain the full amount.


It is human nature to think a disaster will not happen to us, but they happen every day.  Families who are prepared weather the storm best.  We at The Seniors Answer want you and your family to be safe and sound.  Do not wait, make these preparations now.  If you or your loved-one need help creating a plan we will assist you.