It’s the kind of news no wants to hear, especially when on vacation thousands of miles from home. My best friend and her family were in Mexico when they got the news her husband’s woodworking shop had burned to the ground. Worse yet, their much-loved pets perished in the blaze. The fire destroyed every tool her husband owned, his reloading equipment, all the items a family saves, but doesn’t use on a regular basis. His shop was his favorite place to while away the hours and work on projects for his daughters and friends. It was his man cave; a place to hang out and shoot the breeze with friends and to share deer hunting adventures during deer season. It was gone, all gone.
Now begins the snarly task of replacing as many of these treasures as possible. It means hours of work putting together an inventory and dealing with the insurance company. It won’t be easy. My friend never imagined this could happen to them; they had no list and few pictures.
Many of us think tragedy like this won’t happen to us. We may take some minor precautions like backing up computers weekly or keeping emergency food in our cars in case disaster hits. Even though the chance is slim that we will need those things, some preparation is always be better than nothing.
There is lots of information on the internet about how to prepare for a fire and what to do in case of an emergency. Here are 7 of the most unique and useful tips I found:
- Get involved with your fire department. It may be one of the best ways to prepare. Volunteer when they need help and attend their fundraising functions. Tell and show these brave men and women how much you appreciate the service they perform.
- Make copies of important documents and pictures and keep a copy of them at a friends or relatives house. Put the originals in a fire resistant safe or in a safety deposit box.
- A most basic truth is that the fewer things you own, the fewer things you will need to replace in case of a fire. This is actually a good litmus test when deciding if you should keep an object — ask yourself, “Would I replace this if it were destroyed in a fire?” If the answer is no, it might be a good indication that you don’t need to hold onto it now.
- Be properly insured against loss from fire.After you film the video of all of your belongings, make a list of your things and review it with your insurance agent. Ask if you need a special technology rider to cover your computer equipment. Think of the possessions you would replace if they were damaged or destroyed. Don’t cut corners on your insurance coverage, be realistic. Additionally, be sure to have a loss-of-use or displacement policy to cover your expenses for a hotel while you look for a new place or have your home repaired.
- Create a list of important numbers and e-mail it to a personal, web-based e-mail account (like Gmail) or store it on a cloud-based server. (I useDropbox.) The important numbers should include phone numbers, prescriptions, and user names and passwords for online accounts.
- Seriously consider having your photographs and home videos digitally scanned and stored on-line.
Watching my friends go through this experience is heartbreaking. Disaster could strike any of us at any time. Forethought and planning ahead can make it easier.