It can be hard to think about the worst happening to the most precious items you own.
If your home caught on fire, what would you grab? It might be your kids, your purse, your pets (or all of the above). But what about your precious photos? The love letters your grandparents wrote one another that you inherited? The first tooth your child lost?
What if you weren’t home when the fire began?
There are many items that we would be devastated to lose in a fire or other calamity and it’s not feasible to think we can grab them as we evacuate our home. That’s where a fire-proof safe or storage box comes into play. If those precious items are stored in a safe place within your home, you’ll have easy access to them when you need them (unlike a safe deposit box at a bank) and you can have the peace of mind of knowing that they’re protected if the worst should happen.
So how do you decide what to store in a protected environment?
There are several categories of items that might best be stored in a fireproof safe or storage box:
- Truly irreplaceable and important items, like inherited items, handmade items, genealogy papers and family histories. (Or backup disks of genealogy documents that are stored electronically.) Irreplaceable childhood keepsakes (a baptismal gown or a tooth for example) or items that represent major milestones (the medal from your first marathon) fit into this category.
- Documents that you want easy access to or would be troublesome to replace, like passports, birth certificates, vehicle titles and original social security cards
- Items you would need immediately after a fire, like insurance documents and medications lists
- Valuables, like jewelry, a coin collection, and cash. (Leave out your pearls, though; they’re extremely temperature sensitive and can be damaged at lower temperatures, so a fire-proof safe might not protect them.)
- Information that would help your heirs with your estate after you pass away or if you fall ill, like your will, power of attorney, and health care directives. You can also have a notebook with account numbers and passwords, along with other pertinent information. I have filled out the Exit Strategies workbook with my elderly parents and take great comfort in knowing that their financial life and their final wishes are documented. A fire-proof safe in my parents’ home is a perfect place for that workbook—assuming I have the combination.
Though a fire-proof safe or storage box can keep your important and irreplaceable items safe from fire, you want to store your items safely within the safe. Use archival, acid-free storage boxes for those delicate documents (those love letters, old photos or family histories) before storing in a safe. Place a desiccant packet in the safe to help keep items safe from humidity.
Janine Adams, certified professional organizer and owner of Peace of Mind Organizing® in St. Louis, Missouri, has been helping clients create order in their homes since 2005. She blogs about organizing at her website and about genealogy and preserving family keepsakes at Organize Your Family History.
Enter to win a Alarm Safe and a Guardian Storage Box at the Peace of Mind Organizing blog! You can read Janine’s review and enter the giveaway here.