March 11, 2011

Protect your writings, photographs, and valuables before disaster strikes

As disasters fill the news today, prayers undoubtedly fill the air. The first concern, of course, is protecting yourself and your loved ones. If you’re in no immediate danger, though, please take time now to protect the records and valuables in your most valuable life:

Email your poems, writings, and/or works in progress to yourself, so you can retrieve them directly from the website of your Internet service provider.

Scan beloved family photographs and important documents. Save to a DVD and mail to siblings, children, or other family members, including at least one person who lives in another region of the U.S. or in another country.

Upload your prized photographs to a photo website such as Flickr or Picasa, making sure the security settings show as private rather than public.

Investigate free services on such websites as Google Docs and that let you privately store your word files with easy retrieval from any computer, assuming you recall the user name and password.

Print out and/or backup copies of your poems and writings on a CD or DVD, and seal in waterproof Ziploc bags.

Seal other valuables too, including important papers, address book, and email contacts in watertight containers. Place them in a large purse, briefcase, or waterproof bag that you keep on your person or close enough to grab.

Although every contingency cannot be covered, consider as soon as you can the type of disaster most likely to occur in your area. In Florida, for example, we often prepare for water-related events, but for some time now, we have experienced drought conditions, so fire poses a threat too, making nonflammable containers a wise choice for storing valuables. If there’s a potential for evacuation, we also try to keep the car gassed up and stocked with water, appropriate clothing, flashlights, and snacks.

At other times, tornadoes and lightning storms have zipped overhead, causing us to stay put with our Ziploc bags, water jug, flashlights, and ourselves in the little basement room beneath our house.

I cannot even imagine what a tsunami must be like, but I have felt the impact of thunderstorms, snowstorms, and a 7.3 earthquake. I’ve seen tornadoes zig-zag overhead and ashes float into my living room from fires thirty miles away, and I’ve been in Hurricane Camille. Thanks be to God, my family and I survived with valuables intact, and, right now, I pray you do too.

(c) 2011, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.
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