How to Disaster-Proof Prized Belongings
Whether you are an avid collector or you just own select pieces of value, it is important to protect your prized possessions from disasters. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and other natural disasters can present a serious danger to the security of your valuables. While insurance may cover the financial aspect of any losses, many items are unique, with a sentimental history and a value far beyond dollars that makes them truly irreplaceable.
There are many different ways to disaster proof your prized belongings. Methods vary depending on the type of items you are trying to protect and what type of disasters your area is prone to. These are some of the most common valuable possessions and ways to keep them safe in case of disaster.
Storing Documents and Other Paper Items
Important documents and small items of value can be protected by storing them in a fire proof safe. Many different natural disasters can cause a fire, and protecting valuable things like money collections and historic documents against fire is important. A fire proof safe is also strong, protecting items even if the entire house comes down around them. Fire proof safes are also water-tight, protecting paper items against flooding.
If you are protecting items that you do not need to access on a frequent basis, consider renting a safety deposit box from your bank. These small boxes are individually locked and then kept inside of a large vault. A safety deposit box is a highly secure place to keep valuables, protecting them against all of the same dangers as a fire proof safe. In addition, should anything happen to your valuables, the bank’s insurance is liable and not your homeowners or renters insurance.
Protecting Breakables from Earthquakes and Other Natural Disasters
Most breakable collectibles and heirlooms are ones that their owners wish to have on display. This, however, can be problematic in areas prone to earthquakes. There are some precautions that you can take to protect your breakable possessions when displaying them.
Always display breakable items, such as art or ceramics, on sturdy shelving. Avoid placing items on the top shelf, where they are more prone to falling debris. Secure shelving units to the wall, being sure to screw into the studs and not just anchoring into drywall, which is more likely to give way.
Items should be secured to shelves as well. There are many wax and putty substances available to hold such items in place on the shelves and make sure they won’t fall. These types of substances are used by museums to hold exhibit pieces in place as well. This specialty item may be difficult to find and can be located at some hobby stores, collectible shops, or even home improvement stores, but is much easier to find online.
When storing breakable, valuable items, use similar precautions for any shelving units. Items should be carefully wrapped in bubble wrap or other padded material and arranged in sturdy containers to protect the contents.
Flood Proofing Possessions Stored in a Basement
Basements are prone to flooding, especially in area of low elevation. This is an unfortunate circumstance for many, who rely on the extra storage space of their basements to keep many different items, often valuable and cherished. Rather than avoiding basement storage, there are a few things you can do to greatly minimize the risks involved with storing your prized possessions in a potentially leaky area.
Protect items from moisture by placing them inside of sealed, water-proof containers. Most large retail stores carry plastic storage totes in a wide variety of sizes for inexpensive prices. Because of the large variety available, a plastic storage tote can be found to hold almost anything. Look for containers with lids that snap securely in place. Some cheaper containers have lids that remain loose, making them more likely to allow moisture inside. It is better to spend a little extra money for containers with a higher-quality seal.
Even when inside of water proof plastic containers, the containers should not be stored directly on the floor. Arrange containers on shelving units that are securely attached to the wall. Even keeping items just a few inches off the floor can be enough to save them. If a shelving unit is not practical or possible, build a small riser with plywood and a few bricks.