Four Pointers to Preserve Your Family Heirlooms in a Disaster

By Diane Haddad

As a natural worrier, I do my share of worst-case-scenario thinking—natural disasters, economic ruin, environmental destruction, etc. Uplifting, I know.

But the good thing about National Preparedness Month, which happens each September in the United States, is the abundance of information about how to minimize harm to your family and your stuff if one of those scary scenarios should happen.

When it comes to stuff, genealogists often prize heirlooms above all else. What would happen to your family treasures in a fire or a natural disaster? Prepare them for the worst with these four tips from Family Curator Denise Levenick, author of How to Archive Family Keepsakes:

  • Inventory: Create an heirloom inventory with pictures of each item and information about it, including its location in your home. You can do this in a document to keep digitally (store the photo files along with the document) or on paper in a binder. However you do this, keep a copy of the inventory in an off-site location.
  • Prioritize: If you have several heirlooms, prioritize them in order of what to save in an emergency—say, if you had to evacuate your home or escape a fire. (Obviously, after any family members or friends in your home at the time.) Make a list of priority items and where they are.
  • Insure: Talk to your insurance agent, especially about valuable heirlooms. Would loss or damage be covered in a cases of fire, flood, tornado, earthquake, theft or accident? You may need to purchase additional coverage.
  • Plan: Make sure your wishes for heirlooms are known in case something happens to you. Put this information in your will or give it to a trusted friend or family member. Along with this, list login details for any family tree or photo storage accounts.

Find more disaster preparation help for the genealogist in our Disaster Preparedness for Genealogists on-demand webinar, presented by Levenick.