PLANNING AHEAD TO AVOID DISASTER
Preservation (verb; used with object): to keep alive or in existence; make lasting.
1325-75: Middle English preserven < Medieval Latin praeservāre to guard
There is no doubt that most species are hard-wired to preserve – whether it be food, tools, shelter, memorabilia – it is in our innate nature to keep our valuable items with care. We think about this many times a day; when we set the alarm on our house, when we lock our cars, even when we enter our login information to access our digital lives but how often do we think about the security of our documents? Between hurricanes, wildfires, tropical storms and disturbances, flooding and the occasional tornado, Floridians are exposed to Mother Nature’s many mood-swings; one of the most popular sayings in Florida is to “just wait 5 minutes”. Despite our diligent efforts to protect them, there are many ways that we can lose our personal belongings. When faced with these challenges, our most important goal is to get our families, pets and loved ones to safety but during a catastrophic event, often, our most sensitive documents are left behind.
Over the years living in Florida and being faced with many hurricanes, I have found many websites that offer downloadable and printable lists. One of my favorites is www.beprepared.com where you can find a multitude of downloadable and printable checklists for many different situations, another favorite is www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/133454 where you can also download or print a more comprehensive list of your most important sensitive documents. These lists are in no way exact for everyone and should be personalized to fit your individual needs. Once you have reviewed, chosen and personalized your list, it is much easier to locate and organize the documents you have – even documents that have been long forgotten.
So – you have taken the time to locate and catalogue, your list is complete and your documents are compiled. The volume may leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed and you may ask “now what?” Recognizing that many agencies despite disaster circumstances, will require you to obtain original, certified documents to replace items such as: Social Security Cards, Drivers Licenses or ID’s. Now would be your best opportunity to make copies of your documents and then review and record on each copy where the original is located as well as contact information for the necessary agency related to replacing each form. We find this method addresses two issues and makes the process painless in the future, should you need it. Your original information should be kept in a very safe place, perhaps in your safety deposit box or a fire / water safe, safe in your home. Regardless of where you store them, I always suggest sealing these in plastic zip bags to add another level of dry protection. Using today’s technology, scanning to create digital copies of documents, pictures and even slides is very common and very useful.
Scanning technology can be applied to small pictures or to large images (poster & larger) and is more affordable than you think. Hard-copies of your documents can be stored at home in a 3-ring binder with a cd and can be easily grabbed and carried with you, should you need to evacuate in a hurry or should you find your safety deposit box not easily accessible. Should you find you prefer cloud storage, there are many services available but do research first to determine which digital storage service is the right one for you and your family.
With a little forethought and organization, you can avoid weeks, even months of aggravation, as well as a lot of money, should you find yourself in a situation needing to replace something as important as your driver’s license or passport. A few simple steps will ensure all your information is not only protected but immediately at hand with all the pertinent information right there for you to view. You will find it easy to share this with family whether it be pictures of Grandma and her beloved dog or even perhaps a copy of her birth certificate. Digital albums are becoming more popular than ever for their functionality and complete ease of use. In the terrible event your treasured images or documents be damaged, there are a lot of possibilities for repair so before you throw them out, it is suggested that you call a professional to view the problem and advise of anything that could be done to perhaps repair the damaged image.
Article written by Joy Feldman, Owner of Joyful Printing & Design, Inc., Joy was born in Stuart, FL and is a 3rd generation owner / operator of Joyful Printing, her family has proudly served Stuart since 1972. Visit www.joyfulprinting.com for more information and to view her reviews and portfolio. 772-287-4376