No one ever plans on a house fire. But if the unthinkable happens, the proper preparation can make all the difference in the aftermath. Some documents, pictures, and other objects can never be replaced, but you can take precautions to make sure they don’t have to be.
How Valuable is a Valuable?
It would be frustrating to lose any of your possession in a fire, but some items are particularly difficult to go without. The following documents should always be kept safe and accessible:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Social Security cards
While you won’t likely have the space to provide fire protection to every document you own, you may want to also set aside a few irreplaceable photos, children’s drawings, or letters that mark milestones and memories.
When it comes to protecting tangible documents or items, a safety box is the only foolproof option.
Safe Deposit Box: Located in your bank’s building, a safety deposit box ensures that no matter what happens to your home, your items will be safe. For as little as $50 per year, you can have the peace of mind that comes from storing your items safely.
However, safety deposit boxes are limited by a bank’s operating hours. Many people like to keep their valuables closer to home with a personal home safe or fire safety box.
Fire Safety Box: It should go without saying that your safety box needs to be officially deemed fire resistant. Underwriters Laboratories tests and rates safes and boxes. Here are a few ratings to keep in mind as you make your selection:
- A one-hour rating means the box can withstand 1,300 degrees of heat for a full hour.
- A UL 350 fire rating means the interior temperature will not exceed 400 degrees, the temperature at which paper burns.
- A UL 125 or lower fire rating means the interior will not exceed 125 degrees, making it safe for computer discs and flash drives.
Even if you keep your items in a fire-safe box, you will also need to protect them from the water damage that comes from fire-fighting efforts. Place these items in a water-tight bag, such as a Ziploc, before placing them in the box.
Options for Photos
Many of us have accumulated hundreds, if not thousands, of cherished photos over the years. While you can keep some of the most important ones in a safe, you probably won’t be able to store them all. Here are a few ways to insure your photos stay safe:
- Scan and digitize hard photos that don’t have a digital backup. You can do this yourself at home or hire a company that specializes in high-quality photo archiving.
- Duplicate important photos and keep in a different location, such as a relative’s house.
- Transfer digital photos to a USB or external drive and keep those in a safe rated at 125 or lower.
- Back up your photos regularly to a cloud-based service
While it’s difficult to imagine a fire in your home, protecting those items most valuable to you will give you peace of mind. And in the highly likely event that you will not go through the tragedy of a fire, you will still benefit from knowing exactly where to find the documents and memories most important to you.
Unfortunately, house fires are a reality in our world and should such a tragedy befall you, remember that we are here to help you restore your home and get you back on track. Learn More >>