In our society, without adequate records, you can be seriously hindered in your efforts to move forward – maintaining your personal independence – after an emergency event.
Try selling a car without its pink slip.
Try getting your life-saving medications without a prescription.
Try withdrawing money from your bank without your bank card or driver’s license.
Try leaving the country without a passport.
Try collecting on an insurance policy without the policy documents.
Try buying a pistol or rifle without proper ID.
You get the idea.
Yes, eventually, you will be able to work things out and get things taken care of, but it is going to take a big chunk of your time and energy.
Why not plan ahead? Or does the idea of being stuck in a Red Cross facility or high school gym appeal to you?
Start that plan with understanding what you need to first protect. Read our article titled, Must-Have Records After TSHTF. We also discuss some methods for protecting the information electronically.
Protecting Against Fire
The smoke alarm goes off in the middle of the night, you grab your spouse and other family members and run for your life.
Your home, apartment, or RV burns to the ground. Nothing is left but smokey cinders and rubble.
The easiest, and pretty darned effective way is to pick up an in-home fire safe. These little boxes that you see at the big box stores, work very well.
For as little as $20, you can have some peace of mind that your records are safe.
There are drawbacks, though, to the small, in-home fire safes.
Protecting Against Theft
The little safes can be easily picked up, removed from your property, and opened in another location. They are a great idea, but you need to have them hidden somewhere in your residence.
You have two basic ways to protect against theft: Security and Location
In my precious metals store, my insurance company requires that I have a minimum of a TL-30 rated safe. This safe will stop a professional safe-cracker for at least 30 minutes. They are virtually impenetrable for a common thief.
You most likely don’t need that much protection, but owning a large safe can make a lot of sense. You can hold all of your valuables – including guns, precious metals, and important documents.
A key consideration is your ability to bolt down the safe. Even a safe of several hundred pounds can be easily moved and stolen by a couple of thieves. Bolting the safe into a permanent structure – such as your cement garage floor – raises the bar considerably.
Watch this video. Two guys, two bars, and the safe is open in under two minutes. What’s the first thing they do? They tip over the safe so they’re able to use their body weight when leveraging open the safe.
As you saw, the placement of the bolted-down safe would be important as well. For a safe that opens on the left side, you want the placement to be as far to the left as possible. This takes away the thief’s ability to use the pry bars on the upright safe without hitting the wall to the left.
Lastly, you don’t want to end up like the poor folks in Japan during the Fukushima tsunami. They had safes, but the unbolted ones floated away when the waves hit.
Got floods? Got levies? Got dams?
Bolt ’em down.
If your documents aren’t in your home, they can’t be stolen or lost from fire or flood.
The first option that usually comes to mind is a bank safe deposit box. These are a decent idea for records, but not so good for valuables.
Like it or not, bank and government officials can gain access to your box with very little trouble. Most of the time, you don’t even need to be informed of the intrusion into your personal box.
I prefer off-site caches. These are containers that hold anything you’d like – money, precious metals, guns, records, food, water, tools – whatever you’d like.
You determine what you want to protect and get it hidden. How? Yeah, we’ve got posts on that as well!
Lastly, you’re invited to visit the free portion of the Members area for a complimentary copy of the Special Forces Caching Techniques handbook. Click the Members item on the menu bar above. The handbook is a part of the Independence Library.
Which technique to choose? Why pick between them?
You have no idea what kind of emergency situation will happen. Protect against any of these potential disasters by doing them as many as you can afford.
We’re big believers in PACE – Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency. The idea is to have back-ups for your back-ups…. and then some! In this example, have 4 places you keep documents:
Small fire safe
Large, bolted down fire safe
Bank safe deposit box
In this way, regardless of the emergency, you can gain access to your records (and emergency supplies) when you need them, not when someone else thinks it’s convenient to allow you back to your home to open the safe, or when the bank opens after your weekend flood.