Fireproof safes are an item most of us know we should have, yet oftentimes fail to purchase.
This is especially true since the National Fire Protection Association reports that, in the United States alone, the fire department is called to respond once every 24 seconds. Additionally, when it came to calls involving structure fires, 72 percent of the time, that structure is a home.
But let’s say that you’ve taken that next step and actually purchased a fireproof safe (or are about to). What types of things should you keep in it, preventing their damage should a fire unexpectedly break out in your home?
- Birth certificates. Birth certificates are often needed to show identity, so having access to these types of documents after a fire can be helpful in cases where you’re required to prove who you are.
- Marriage certificates. Certainly, you can get certified copies of marriage licenses from the court in which they were filed. However, if you’ve moved far away (or simply don’t want to have to pay for new copies), keep the ones you already have in your fireproof safe.
- Social Security cards. Yes, these can be replaced at any time by contacting the Social Security Administration, but it’s not exactly an easy process. So, if you can keep all of your family’s original cards safe and secure, you’re much further ahead.
- These government identification booklets should also be stored in a fireproof safe, especially if you tend to travel a lot since it takes time (and money) to get replacements.
- Bank account information. Even though most banking is done online nowadays, what happens if you need your account information while the Internet is down, such as in a major disaster? Having a hard copy of all of your account numbers can make this process much easier.
- If you keep cash in your home, it’s best to keep it in a fireproof safe since your homeowner’s or renter’s policy isn’t likely to cover its loss. Don’t forget to put any foreign currency you may have leftover as a result of travel in your safe as well.
- Life insurance policies. Hopefully everyone in your home will be safe should a fire occur. However, in the tragic event that this is not the case, you’ll want easy access to any life insurance policies that exist.
- Wills, healthcare directives, and powers of attorney. These end-of-life documents may also need to be quickly accessed in the event of a house fire. Not to mention, if you only have the original of each, you’ll want to make sure it is kept safe.
- USBs with important documents or photos. Put your important documents and family photos on a USB or other memory device and place it in your fireproof safe. In the event of a house fire that destroys everything else you own, you’ll be glad you did.
- Any certified court documents. If you’ve been divorced or otherwise involved in a major court case that resulted in an order being issued, it’s always beneficial to keep the certified copy of that order in your safe.
- Diplomas, degrees, and awards. You may also want to put your high school diploma, college degrees, transcripts, and any other major award you’ve received in your fireproof safe since, in some cases, originals cannot be replaced.
- Family heirlooms. Granted, some family heirlooms are too big or too beautiful to store in a safe. However, if you have any that are small (such as your mother’s wedding ring or your father’s military award) and you want to protect them, they really belong in your safe as well.