Do you know where all of your prized possessions are? When faced with a natural disaster, you could lose the things you hold most dear. I'm sharing tips to help save your stuff when nature strikes and a handy checklist to make sure you have your bases covered when preparing for disaster.
I've partnered with Allstate to share this post.
"It's just stuff." That's what I tell myself when I'm trying to purge or declutter. While that's true for most things, there are some possessions that I prize more than others and I just couldn't imagine losing. This scenario got a little too real for me last month when Hurricane Matthew hit. I live in a coastal town in Florida and we were directly in its path. A suggested evacuation warning came through, and since we have two small children, I felt it was best to heed the warning and retreat to a safe place.
There I stood in my house, evaluating. What would we take with us? What could we take with us? I immediately started gathering my most valuable possessions. Some things are quite obvious - an heirloom ring from my grandmother, important documents like birth certificates and passports. But, there are other items you might forget in a rush, or maybe you should just take caution with in general. I know not everyone faces hurricane evacuations, but flooding and fires can happen almost anywhere.
I was being silly on Instagram when I shared this photo, but I was actually being truthful. I have a small collection of nice handbags and shoes, so those were actually on my "must take" list, along with some baby keepsakes and photos. You'll have to decide what means the most to you.
Preparing for Disaster - Tips to Save Your Stuff
1.) Plan ahead. I cannot stress this enough. The problem with natural disasters is that you have no idea when they might strike. Thankfully, with a hurricane you might have several days to prepare. With a tornado, fire, earthquake or flood, you're at nature's mercy. That's why you have to have an action plan in place.
2.) Take inventory. What do you value most? There were a few things in Allstate's "What Are Americans' Most Prized Possessions," that were surprising to me, but one thing is clear - to us, it's not "just stuff" after all. That's why you have to know what you have and where it is in order to save it. Valuables might include costly items like fine artwork or jewels, but you should also consider items that are irreplaceable. If you treasure your baby's first blanket and lock of hair, you've got know where they are and what you can do to protect them in case of an emergency.
Use this checklist to evaluate your belongings:
For a full size printable PDF of this checklist, click HERE.
3.) Invest in keeping your keepsakes safe. I'm not here to tell you to spend thousands of dollars on a 4-hour fire-rated safe, but there are certain things you can do to safeguard your valuables.
Store documents and keepsakes in plastic bags. Zippered bags will do just fine to prevent items from getting wet, but I prefer heavy duty, vacuumed sealed storage bags since they're waterproof and can compress items like baby clothes, etc.
For very important documents and things you truly cherish, I'd recommend getting a small fireproof box or safe or renting a safe deposit box from your bank. We have both. For items that I need regularly, like the kids' birth certificates, our passports, and extra cash, I place those items in waterproof bags and inside of our small fireproof box. For items like our wedding photos, marriage license and more expensive jewelry, I use our safe deposit box. Also, consider scanning your important documents (like birth certificates, marriage licenses, medical records, and financial documents) and store them on an external hard drive or flash drive. Keep a copy in your fireproof safe or safe deposit box.
I truly cherish photos, so this is a big one for me. I don't have a lot of printed photos, besides my husband and my baby books, but I have a ton of digital files. I don't ever delete photos from my memory cards, so I buy a new one every 3 or 4 months and then swap it out. I have most of our family photos on memory cards and my external hard drive for back-up. These are irreplaceable, so the external hard drive stays with me (and goes into my disaster kit - see below) and the memory cards go into the safe deposit box.
4.) Be ready when disaster strikes. Once you've taken inventory and decided how to store your valuables should an emergency occur, you'll have less things to worry about. It's a good idea to have a disaster kit that you can grab it and go. That should contain things that you absolutely need at that moment (like your vital information, insurance policies, safe deposit keys, cash, and credit/debit cards) and medications. Most of these things are stored in our fire-proof box which is small enough to carry if we can get to it in time.
When faced with Hurricane Matthew, we took what we could and did our best to protect the rest of our household items. We moved items to higher ground on top of larger furniture items and placed other items in interior closets with no windows. It was stressful but I'm glad I had time to prepare
Although I'd like you to take these tips to heart, please remember that NOTHING is more important than your life. Do not waste precious moments in a life threatening situation to collect your belongings. If you have them close by, grab them and go. Otherwise, make sure you put yourself and your family's lives first.
Disclosure: This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated to not only protecting what matters most- but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.