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Protecting Important Papers from a Home Disaster

Keep your papers safe from fire by storing them away from your home or in a fireproof safe.

Keep your papers safe from fire by storing them away from your home or in a fireproof safe.

As Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo residents know too well, disasters are sometimes beyond our control. And while we cannot control the havoc caused by fires and floods, being prepared for the worst can ease our minds and alleviate some of the fear we all experience when we think about disasters.

One of the simplest things you can do to prepare for a disaster is safeguarding your papers and documents from fire and floods. Having your records safe and secure will help you return quickly to normal after a disaster. Follow these simple steps to protect your documents as part of your property restoration plan.


Once you start listing your records, you’ll be surprised at their variety and location. Start with the most common vital records: driver's licenses, passports, birth certificates, marriage/divorce documents, and child custody papers. These common documents should be easily accessible and quick to find.

Now, move on to financial and less familiar documents such as vaccination records, property deeds, banking and investment accounts, loan documents, wills, trusts, and recent tax documents.


After gathering all of your documents, the next step is to make copies of them. The best way to do this is physically (actual paper copies) and electronically. Take this opportunity to safeguard both the original documents and the paper copies from water damage. Clean up, organize and protect your documents by buying a waterproof, fireproof safe. Do not store this safe in the basement where flooding is possible but keep it easily accessible. You will need easy access when evacuating in the case of fire.


Also, consider storing your paper copies “off-site.” Safe deposit boxes are great for records and possessions to keep them safe. Restoration benefits of safe deposit boxes include enhanced security such as two-foot steel vaults, security cameras, and motion sensors. Once you put something in a safe deposit box, you can rest assured that it is protected. However, you can only access your safe deposit box during banking hours, and you’ll need to check with your bank regarding who can access the box - in case of death or disability.


Now that you’ve got the physical paper documents squared away, it’s time to make digital copies. Scan or photograph your documents and load them onto a stand-alone, password-protected hard drive. This hard drive can also go in the fireproof, waterproof safe. Now that you have converted your paper documents to digital files - look into storing them on “the cloud,” so you can access account numbers and vital records from anywhere. Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive are just some of the options for cloud-based storage. When you store your files on the cloud, you have convenient 24/7 access to your documents. The cloud is perfect in the event you need to relocate temporarily. Whether it is due to a natural or man-made disaster or if you are having property restoration services done to your home. Ensure that all of your files are encrypted and password protected before uploading them to these cloud-based storage options.

Mitigate a messy disaster by reading How to Handle Sewage Backup Cleanup on a Commercial Property.

Contact Proserve DKI for emergency Fort McMurray flood and fire restoration services. We have the experience, equipment, and knowledge to handle all manner of disasters including smoke, sewer, and water cleanup, to get you back home safe and sound as quickly as possible.