How do You Protect Your Valuables?

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The news of the terrible flooding in Australia has gone all around the world.  This and another event has caused me to focus on the protection of one’s valuables.

The Lord Mayor of Brisbane warned almost three months ago, that certain weather patterns were indicating that there was likely to be a high rainfall and very high tides (Brisbane is on a river, on the east coast of the continent of Australia).  He received quite a lot of media coverage for this – and he repeated the warning suggesting on more than one occasion that those in flood prone areas in particular take heed.

In 1974, there was a major flood here in Brisbane, and later the government built a dam, which was part of a flood mitigation program.  Some so-called experts declared it would save Brisbane any future flood.  They also said that the flood was considered to be a once in a 100 year event.  Clearly many believed that.  Since the big flood of 1974, our population has increased markedly, and many people chose to build exp4ensive homes on the river – and those with plenty of money had their luxury boat moored at the pontoon at the bottom of the property.  All very well with good weather condition.

All ignored the dire warnings of our Lord Mayor.  Even those whose properties had flooded somewhat with very high tides in recent years, and those within the flood area of some 37 years ago, ignored the warnings.  It seems no one did anything to protect their valuables.

Queensland had its wettest year on record, and in December, the rains were unrelenting.  Floods started in the north of the state, and slowly but surely rivers flooded as the heavy rains made their way each week to the southern part of the state.  Still there was an air of nonchalance. 

When  the disastrous floods swept through last week causing amazing devastation – some 20 or more lives were lost (still people are missing and one body was found 80 kms from where the person was swept into the raging waters) and panic set it. 

It is no surprise that the loss of property was enormous.  Many people lost everything.  What is amazing is that despite the warnings, many irreplaceable items were lost.  Photos, photo albums, documents, jewellery, computers and all documents.  Everything that was not swept away in the swirling muddy waters was destroyed by the toxic floodwaters.  Lost and gone forever.

Whitegoods, furniture, houses, cars, trucks and more were lost – most of them replaceable, but it is those things that are irreplaceable that concern me. I cannot understand why so many people were complacent and did nothing with plenty of warning to save the precious items that they are now shedding tears about.

I do feel sorry for them all, but there is one part of me that realises how silly we all are.  Yes, me too.  While I am above flood level I have not taken steps to protect much of my valuable property.  Oh, yes, I back up my files, but if the house burned down, I’d lose the computer and the hard drives I so carefully store my material on.

This is not a list of what to do and what not to do, but I ask readers to consider some things.

·         Scan, copy, and keep on a special hard drive (now quite inexpensive) all documents and photos that you will appreciate if a disaster swept through your home. 

·         Some photos/document can be kept on a website(e.g. FlickR)

·         Leave your special hard drive at a safe house.  (purchase a plastic box with lid and leave it with a trusted friend or family member. )

·         Update the hard drive from time to time, but make sure it is then sent to the safe house.

·         Keep all valuable documents together.  e.g. in a safe, or special container so that if you need to evacuate quickly you can easily access it.

·         Make sure you update everything before you go on holidays too.

·         Make a list of all the things that you would choose not to lose if a disaster happened. 

·         Make an evacuation plan – especially if you are in a geographic area that floods, or is prone to extreme weather events.

·         Make sure a trusted family member or friend has your house key – so that they can help out if you are not close to home when an evacuation is needed.  (Preferably not the family member with the hard drive.)

·         Make sure you are insured, and know the details of your insurance policy to know exactly you are covered for.

·         Help others when they need help – you never know when it will be you that needs help.

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