When emergencies occur there can be enough to worry about without adding the loss of important documents. As much as you might not want to think about what will happen in a crisis, it is important to be prepared to rebuild your life. The best way to do this is to protect the important documents you will need in order to pick up the pieces after an emergency. Documents to protect include:
• Birth certificates;
• Marriage licences;
• Insurance policies; and
• Important digital media.
Protecting digital media from water damage is as easy as making use of a cloud storage system that syncs your important files to an online storage location. This way, if your computer is damaged in a flood or emergency all of your important work files and family pictures are backed up somewhere safe and easily retrieved. But what should you do to protect all those paper documents you don’t want to lose? There are two main options for keeping valuable items and papers safe from emergencies like flooding.
Safe Deposit Box
One great way to protect your documents is to simply keep them out of the house in a secure location. Safe deposit boxes enjoy the same security and protection from damage due to emergencies that the bank’s vault does meaning that your possessions are safe and secure no matter what happens.
To open a safe deposit box, two keys are required: you will hold on to one key and the bank holds on to the other. In order to access the box you will need to produce your key and prove your identity to the bank.
Renting a safe deposit box is much more affordable than purchasing a secure home storage unit with rates starting at about $20 per year depending on the size of the box.
• Protected from Natural Disasters:
Bank vaults are resistant to earthquakes, explosions, fires, floods, and heat so you can be sure that most natural disasters will not damage any of your important belongings.
• Limited Access:
Safe deposit boxes are only available during bank hours which may be inconvenient at 2 in the morning in an emergency if you have your insurance information locked away.
• Sealed Upon Death:
Unless the box is registered to more than one person, it will be sealed upon your death and may not be opened for some time. This means that it is not a great place to keep any wills or last testaments as your lawyer will not have access to them right away.
• Contents Not Insured:
While it is unlikely that anything could happen to your possessions while they are locked away, if something does happen it is important to know that these items are not insured by the bank.
Home Storage Options
If you prefer to have your important items close at hand for when you need them, you will probably prefer to invest in a fire-proof and water-resistant safe. The size of safe you require will depend on what items you wish to store inside of it.
• Widely Available:
Waterproof locking boxes and cabinets are widely available in a variety of sizes and styles depending on your needs and the natural disasters or emergencies you are most worried about in your area.
• Unlimited Access:
Because the box is located in your home you will have unlimited access day or night to all of your important items.
Home options are significantly more expensive than renting a safe deposit box, especially because you will need a large or wall-mounted unit in order to prevent theft. Prices can range from $40-$2000 depending on size and style.
Some items, such as stamps, which are particularly sensitive may be better off in a more controlled environment. Even if your safe protects them from direct damage due to fire, they may still suffer damage from heat.