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How to Store Sensitive Materials to Keep Them Safe from Floods

Destructive hurricanes, flash floods, and thunderstorms put your home, family, and possessions at risk. Sometimes, you have several days’ notice to prepare to evacuate. Other times, you have mere minutes to grab what you need and leave.

That’s why you should plan for disasters now. One way is to store sensitive materials properly to keep them safe from flood damage. This prep work minimizes your losses and makes it easier to put your life back together after the disaster.

Sensitive Materials Worth Protecting from Floods

While the documents and records you deem most valuable will vary, here are some must-haves to get your list started:

  • Personal records, including birth certificates, adoption papers, marriage certificates, Social Security cards, passports, diplomas, photocopies of your credit cards and driver’s license, and phone numbers of friends and family (because they’ll be inaccessible if your cell phone battery dies)
  • Home and property documents, including mortgage statements, car titles, insurance policies, and appraisal documents
  • Medical records, including health insurance cards, prescription numbers, immunization records, and your doctor’s phone number
  • Pet information, including adoption papers, vaccination records, and microchip IDs
  • Financial documents, including receipts, tax records, stock certificates, 401(k) or IRA account numbers, bank statements, and wills
  • Other items, including family photo albums, backups of important computer files (on CDs, DVDs, or hard drives), usernames and passwords, the key to your safe deposit box, and contact information for utility providers

Help Prevent a Flood in the First Place

In some situations, flood waters are so intense that they are impossible to keep out. Other times, a little leak-proofing can stop burst pipes or water runoff from flooding your home. Follow these tips to help prevent a flood in the first place:

  • Protect your pipes from freezing: Blow out your sprinkler system in the fall, wrap exposed pipes with heat tape and insulation, seal air leaks, and set your thermostat to 60 degrees or higher at all times.
  • Prevent plumbing leaks: Inspect the water hoses behind your refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher, and toilets regularly. When possible, replace rubber hoses with durable steel braided versions. Shut off the main water supply when you go out of town.
  • Clean the gutters: During a downpour, you want runoff from the roof to flow away from the foundation. Clean gutters are the key.
  • Seal leaks: Use caulk around windows, doors, and small cracks in the foundation. Apply weatherstripping around windows and doors that don’t close tightly. Use spray foam or hydraulic cement to seal larger gaps in the foundation walls. These efforts help to keep rain and groundwater out of your house.

Invest in Waterproof Storage Containers

You might want to store particularly valuable belongings in a fireproof safe, which is also effective for preventing flood damage. A safety deposit box at your bank is another secure choice.

If you want the option of taking sensitive materials with you when you evacuate, place them in larger watertight storage containers. To keep things organized within these containers, insert papers into plastic sleeves and put the sleeves in three-ring binders. Then, store your waterproof storage containers where they are least likely to experience flood damage:

  • Keep containers away from exposed water pipes or drainage areas.
  • Store containers on an upper floor of your home.
  • Stack containers on sturdy metal shelves where the bottom shelf is at least six inches off the floor.

If flood damage occurs in your home, the most important documents may be protected in waterproof storage containers, but you’ll still need help restoring the rest of your home. When you need help, please schedule water damage restoration services with Rainbow International®.