How to Store Important Documents to Keep Them Safe from the Elements

Natural disasters and extreme weather can affect us all. It seems like every day we hear about fires, flash floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other types of extreme situations that wreak havoc in people’s lives.

Sometimes, when we’re lucky, we get some notice before disaster hits. Other times we only get seconds or minutes.

Are your important documents stored somewhere safe? Are they protected from water or fire damage?

The time to prepare is now. You’ll need access to these must-have documents as soon as possible. 

Continue reading to learn how to store important documents.

How to Store Important Documents

No matter what type of event happens to put your possessions at risk, the end result is protecting them from the elements. Mainly fire and water.

Fire or water damage can occur in any home at any time. Fires break out and water pipes burst. So even if your neighborhood isn’t historically hit by wildfires or flooding, you’ll still need to prepare for both anyway.

Which Documents are Important

You will want to store your personal documents. These include your birth certificate, Social Security card, marriage certificate, divorce decrees, passports, immigration cards, and your estate planning documents (such as your will or trust). Also, include any medical insurance cards and a list of the prescriptions you take.

Store copies of documents showing ownership of your vehicles (cars, boats, etc.), real estate (your house) and expensive personal property (such as artwork or jewelry). Include copies of the related insurance policies and appraisals.

Copies of your investments and financial documents should also be included. Bank statements, retirement contribution statements, stock and bond certificates, and copies of income tax filings (and the related backup documentation).

Make a list of emergency contact numbers. Include family, friends, doctors, and insurance agents. 

Make Copies of Your Documents

One of the best plans is to have multiple copies of your documents so you can store them in more than one location. You’ll need copies to take with you if you have time and copies you can get to elsewhere if you don’t.

You can also make copies of your documents on the cloud or on portable storage devices, such as flash drives, external drives, CDs, or DVDs.

Don’t rely on just electronic copies or copies you put on the cloud. It is possible for electricity to be out for days after certain kinds of events which will keep you from being able to access your documents via a computer or the internet. 

How to Store Your Copies 

To protect your documents from fire and water, place the documents in sealed plastic bags then put them in a fireproof box. Label the bags with water resistant labels so you’ll know what’s in each bag. Store the box as high off the bottom floor as possible. 

If you can, store a copy at home, another at a relative or friend’s house (out of your area), and a third in a safety deposit box (optional). 

Safety Deposit Boxes

Safety deposit boxes are very useful for storing valuable personal property, but what types of records are best kept in safe deposit boxes? 

If you have original documents that would be difficult or expensive for you to replace, a safety deposit box makes a good choice. It is also a good place to put a copy of your will. Keep the original in your fireproof box.

Protect Your Important Documents Now

Now that you know how to store important documents, it’s time to get your documents together and put away safely. 

And remember to update your fireproof box with current copies as you receive them.

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