Rebuilding After A Disaster: Create A Home Inventory Now
It seems like, every other week, there is some natural disaster threatening people’s homes. Worrying about that sort of thing has lead me to be a little more prepared than I might be otherwise. I’ve got an emergency plan, I’ve backed up my hard drive, and my cats’ carrier is easily accessible. Now, I’m starting to focus on what might happen after a disaster. The key to starting over again seems to be knowing what you might need to replace. Insurers will insist on such a list, for instance. So, I’ve been developing my own home inventory.
Break Out the Camera
The fastest way to document the stuff in your house or apartment is to grab your digital camera and start shooting. Getting a shot of any major items in your home is a good way to prove that you really own the item in question, and if you have jewelry or family heirlooms that you have insured, a simple description probably won’t suffice. Insurers actually recommend that you use photographs in such cases.
Name, Rank and Serial Number
When it comes to replacing big electronics (think appliances and entertainment systems), the easiest way to know exactly what you want is to use the model name of the piece of equipment, along with a serial number. Just pop open a spreadsheet in Excel or the software of your choice and make a list of the big items in your home. On my list, I’ve got our home computers, the television and its associated gadgets. We’re in an apartment, so I’m not worried about the kitchen appliances — those are the landlord’s responsibility.
Protecting Your Inventory
I know that in an emergency, I may not have time to go through my filing cabinet looking for a copy of my home inventory. I do have hard copy in my files, but I’m not relying on it. I just emailed myself a copy. Now, I know you probably want to remind me that I may not have email access right after a natural disaster. Instead, I’m relying on the fact that my Gmail account is accessible from anywhere. My mom, half a continent away, should be able to print out my list, if necessary. I’m also making plans for leaving print copies in a couple of places, like the glove box of my car. There’s also the option of saving your inventory on a thumb drive — which is especially useful if you have many photos in your inventory. My only concern is that those little drives are so easy to lose.