Reader Hunter sent us the following question:
I know you’ve dealt a bit with managing paperwork and paper in general, but I haven’t seen anything about what to keep in a fireproof box. I’ve decided I need one (hopefully a small one) and want to be sure that I keep the most important (and only the most important) things in it. Any suggestions? Keep up the good work.
Hunter, this topic is larger than you might imagine. In an attempt to answer your question, I’m going to break my response into two separate posts: 1. Contents for a fireproof box, and 2. Purchasing literal and digital fireproof boxes.
First, let’s address what should be stored in a fireproof box. My recommendations are based on what will be the most beneficial to have immediately following a home fire or in an emergency. Most of the items on this list can actually be replaced, but having to replace them will cause you significant time and unnecessary stress.
As a second component to the home fireproof box, I also recommend having a hard-drive stored at an off-site location. In my next post on this topic, I’ll discuss the reasoning behind the second system.
Items I recommend you store in a home fireproof box:
- Current passport
- Birth certificate
- Social security card
- Property titles
- Insurance policies
- A list of bank and credit card account numbers
- Copies of prescriptions for life-supporting medications
- Spare keys to your car
Items I recommend you store digitally on a hard drive at a secure, off-site location:
- Scans of photo negatives and videos that you would be devastated to lose (like wedding photos and videos)
- Scans of your titles and insurance policies
- Scan of your Last Will and Testament
- Scans of your passport, birth certificate, and social security card
- Scans of prescriptions for your life-supporting medications
- A text file containing your bank and credit card account numbers
- A recent backup of important computer documents
- Photos of the interior and exterior of your home taken within the last four months
- Recent photos of your pets
Stay tuned for my second post in this series where I’ll discuss preferred ratings and features of fireproof boxes and off-site digital hard drive storage.