Picture a scenario where a family finds out that severe weather is heading their direction, and notified to evacuate to a safe location. The family tells the children and decide they will depart in the morning, and can only take minimum supplies and valuables, because of constraints on space in the vehicle. What items will the adults pack, and what will the children’s choices be?
This document focuses on important papers and photographs; and how to store, organize, and prioritize them. We can support and teach our children to be prepared and give them tools to assist them.
Methods for Safe Keeping and Archiving Important Documents and Pictures
- Be stored in their original (paper) and digital format, but in some cases you may wish to digitize paper documents.
- Be prioritized into categories such as Mundane, Important and Critical.
- Be kept in a safe, water resistant and portable, designated spot for retrieval and evacuation. A plastic tote box works well for this, as well as zip-top bags within the tote to subcategorize.
- Consider the “shelf life” of a document. Birth certificates, mortgage papers and deeds should be kept for a lifetime, whereas monthly utility bill records may only need to be kept for a year.
- For families and individuals with more than one computer or electronic device, the Cloud can be useful as a repository. The Cloud is electronic off-site storage or an online web storage space, some of which are free and some are not.
- Purchase a portable back up hard drive to archive files on a regular basis. Computer hard drives, phone storage and thumb drives can be lost, stolen or damaged, causing the information to be lost forever or prompting expensive recovery services. Recording these data to a compact disc or DVD is also a good option.
- Consider storing critical copies with other family members or safe deposit box allowing for redundancy protection.
Purchase or set aside a section of files or tote box for grabbing and evacuating in hurry.
So if your papers, files and photos need organizing, remember – we never know when a disaster may come and we need to evacuate. Being organized and prepared will reduce stress levels, aid in recovery and preserve valuable items for long-term benefit. If we include our children in this process, they can assist with the task and start a healthy habit that they may carry into adulthood.
Targeting Life Skills in 4-H, Marilyn N. Norman and Joy C. Jordan, UF/IFAS Extension Publication #4HS FS101.9, 2006.
Keeping a Household Inventory and Protecting Valuable Records, Michael T. Olexa and Lauren Grant, UF/IFAS Extension Publication #DH138, 2016.
From a Fact Sheet by:
G. Koerner, 4-H Program Assistant, A. Lazzari, 4-H Agent, G. Whitworth, Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Florida / IFAS Brevard County Extension, November 21, 2017