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Preparing Your Family Treasures

Storage - Location - Emergency Plan - Insurance - Additional Links

Storage Store like materials together using the guidelines in the protecting section. Consider the likelihood of water damage and mitigate that by using water proof storage when possible. Duplicating family photos and documents and sharing them with other family members helps to provide a back up copy in another location. Consider storing duplicates of paper, photos, electronic files and images of other materials with family or friends in another city or state.

The single most important decision you can make to mitigate damage from a future disaster is selecting an appropriate location for your most valued family treasures. Avoid basement and attic when possible. Consider the safest location based on the most likely threat; if flooding, avoid the basement; if tornado, avoid attics and outside walls. Are there certain times of the year when you are most vulnerable? Can you store some things offsite during those periods?

Another consideration is small disasters and prevention. Don’t store valuable materials under water pipes and keep materials off the floor. If you must store items in the basement, don’t put materials against an outside wall that may let in dampness. Small leaks that go undetected for a period of time can cause irretrievable damage through mold growth and staining. Be sure to check your storage at least twice a year to be sure there are no problems.


Just as you need an emergency plan for the family you also need to think ahead to protect your treasures with a plan. Are there important documents you need to always have that are located in your house? Put those in a single safe place where you can easily collect them before evacuation. Make sure all responsible family members know this location and designate who is going to take the packet in the event of an evacuation. Arrange ahead of time where you will meet should you be separated.

Many family pieces may have considerable sentimental value but are not of high monetary value, such as children’s artwork, family photos, paper documents and letters which can not be replaced but can be duplicated. Make copies and store them in another location, perhaps at the home of a relative who lives in another area of the country. The cost of duplication is minimal compared to the possible permanent loss of those family memories. For those pieces which cannot be replaced or have little monetary value provide the best protection possible. These pieces you may not want to insure if they are one of a kind and not replaceable. It may be better to spend money on upgrading their protective storage if they can't be duplicated.


Insure for replacement value family heirlooms that are replaceable such as antique furniture. Document the condition of items you insure by taking digital photos and date stamping them. Store these images off site with family or friends and with a copy of the insurance policy number and the phone number of your insurance agent. These images can be very useful in establishing ownership of materials and for insurance restitution.

For valuable family treasures such as jewelry and art work ask your insurance agent about scheduling those items at market value and be sure to up date the values yearly.

Talk with your insurance agent so that you understand what your insurance policy covers. Most insurance policies distinguish water damage by the origin of water. For example broken pipes may not be covered, sewer backup often is not covered while damage caused by water from storms probably will be. Many areas of the country are covered by flood insurance only through a separate federal plan and not through commerical property insurance.

Know what your policy covers before you need restitution.



AIC Caring For Your Treasures

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Institute for Business and Home Safety

Library of Congress Emergency Preparedness - Insurance


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