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6 Types of Crucial Documents to Store Safely In Case of Emergency

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

important documents for storageAmong the most important items people want to protect from a disaster like fire, flood, hurricane or other extreme weather are vital personal/family documents. There’s a very good reason – in the wake of a genuine disaster, you’ll probably be needing at least some of them, ASAP. Unfortunately, paper documents are among the items most vulnerable to water damage, fire and other destruction during catastrophes.

Experts tell us that one extra copy of vital documents should be stored outside of your home in a secure location like a bank safety deposit box. Another alternative is to scan all important papers to a flash drive or DVD, then send it to a trusted relative residing in a different locale for safe keeping. Remember to update stored copies if/when any changes are made.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests making copies and arranging safe off-site storage for the following important documents

Vital Personal Records
These include photocopies of personal identification such as drivers licenses, birth certificates, and Military I.D. cards, if applicable. Social Security cards, passports and marriage licenses should also be copied.

Insurance Policies
Keep copies of your homeowners insurance and flood insurance policy. Also include health and life insurance coverage information as well as contact information for your local agent.

Financial Information
Record relevant account numbers for all financial matters. Include bank contact information as well as investment firms such as brokerages, retirement accounts and credit card companies.

Property Records
Copy the deed to your home or the mortgage documents provided by the title company. These should state the value of the house at the time of purchase. If you are a renter, retain a copy of the lease or rental agreement. Also duplicate all automobile, boat and RV titles and registration papers.

Medical Information
Make copies of all ongoing prescriptions plus records of immunizations, health insurance I.D. cards, and names and contact information for primary physicians. If you have a living will, include that as well.

Estate Documents
Include a copy of your will, instructions for funeral, documents for power-of-attorney designation and contact information for your personal attorney.

How To Keep Documents Safe From Water Damage

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

water-damaged documentsBecause water damage is one of the most common homeowner’s insurance claims in the United States, how to keep documents safe from water damage is a well-founded concern. In addition to destruction caused by water itself, wet paper inevitably spawns destructive mold growth, as well. The fact that certain documents may frequently be considered irreplaceable adds additional urgency to this topic. While techniques for salvaging and restoring wet documents, books and photos have advanced in recent years, effective prevention is still far and above the preferred course of action. Here are some recommendations from professional archivists to keep documents safe from water damage:

  • Don’t store important documents or photos in close proximity to water supply pipes, drain pipes or heating/steam pipes. Documents should never be placed directly above or below these components.
  • Avoid using top shelves for document storage, which exposes them to greater risk in the event of roof leakage. If you store important papers on bottom shelves, make sure the shelf is at least six inches off the floor to make contact with water less likely in the event of indoor flooding from a pipe rupture.
  • Purchase quality storage boxes and containers, purpose-built for storing documents and other paper records.
  • Monitor humidity inside rooms where important documents are stored. High humidity may migrate from areas such as a chronically damp basement or flooded crawl space into living and storage spaces, causing secondary damage to paper products.
  • If you’re going to be away for an extended period, consider turning off the main water shutoff valve to the house. This prevents major water damage from a ruptured pipe occurring in your absence.
  • If you have a choice, store valuable documents in a room with a pitched roof which sheds water and is less likely to leak than a flat roof.
  • In rooms where important documents are stored, install flood alarms at floor level to alert you to the presence of water.

For more about how to keep documents safe from water damage as well as professional techniques to salvage wet documents and records, contact Rytech, Inc.

Safe Document Storage: Prevention Is Easier Than Replacement

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

document storageSuccessfully salvaging documents after water damage is a complex procedure that goes far beyond simply air drying. Often, specialized technology such as commercial freeze dryers are needed to prevent damaging mold growth while removing moisture from paper materials. Moreover, if professional recovery methods aren’t applied in a very short time interval, certain documents and materials such as photographs may be unsalvageable using any technique.

Preventing water damage to important documents is far preferable to salvaging documents after water damage occurs. While water damage is usually a random, unexpected event, you can take advance preparations to make sure that, if and when it happens, damage to documents is avoided or at least greatly minimized.

  • First, decide which documents are most vital and/or cherished to protect in original form. For documents with high value in both content and original form, before properly storing, scan them to digital files, then store on an external hard drive or other storage media. Backups should be made and kept in a separate place.
  • Store vital papers in commercially available water-resistant and impact-resistant file cabinets with lockable drawers. Never locate these cabinets in the basement—it’s usually the first place in the house to flood with the deepest accumulation of water.
  • If storing documents or other paper materials on shelving, make sure they are on a shelf that is a minimum of six inches above the floor to reduce the chances of contact with pooling water. Don’t utilize the top shelf, which may be exposed to dripping through the ceiling. Also don’t store documents in contact with the wall directly behind. Saturated wallboard wicks water and may transfer this moisture on contact.
  • If you have a large amount of valuable documents stored in a specific space, install water alarms in the room to alert you of water intrusion.
  • For irreplaceable documents of greatest value, consider off-site storage in a bank safety deposit box or another commercial facility.

If you’re faced with the necessity of salvaging documents after water damage, remember that time is a critical factor in a successful outcome. Contact the water damage experts at Rytech, Inc.

Protecting Your Home or Business From Storm Surges to Minimize Water Damage

Friday, December 26th, 2014

Protecting Your Home or Business From Storm Surges to Minimize Water DamageEfforts to minimize water damage during a hurricane extend beyond simply wind and rain protection. The storm surge that follows these hazards often presents the biggest threat of all to both property and human life.

A storm surge occurs when mounded ocean water pushed toward land by hurricane-force winds coincides with the high tide to form a wall of inundation that swamps local areas. Some examples: The storm surge from Hurricane Katrina was more than 25 feet high and Hurricane Ike pushed a 20-foot wall of water onto Texas coastland. Obviously, extensive preparation is critical to minimize water damage in the extreme environment of a storm surge.

Think Ahead

If you’re planning to build in a coastal area affected by hurricanes, consider elevating the home or business above the worst-case flood level in your area. For existing structures, engage an engineering architect for advice on reinforcing the building to withstand a storm surge.

Move Up

In a multi-story building, make sure critical functions like computers, document storage and electrical control panels are located on upper floors.

Protect Against Backflow

Install backflow valves in the sewer line to prevent an inundation of toxic sewage into the building in the event the municipal sewage facility is swamped by a storm surge.

Design to Dry

When choosing interior design features such as carpeting and drapes, consider how readily these components will dry and tolerate restoration after a flood.

Install Hurricane Shutters

Plywood from the local home center nailed up at the last minute isn’t an effective strategy to minimize water damage from a storm surge. Invest in professionally installed, purpose-built hurricane shutters rated to withstand high wind and water.

For more advice to minimize water damage when a storm surge threatens, contact the professionals at Rytech.

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