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Nobody wants to deal with a home disaster, but it helps to be prepared in advance. Making lists and taking pictures can streamline the cleanup and recovery process from damage caused by fire, water or a natural disaster.

Inventory Lists

Begin in a room and make a list of all items in that room. Include any serial numbers or other identifying marks, and take pictures of each item as well. The digital age makes it much easier to document each image. Add any dates of purchase or other information that might help with replacement of the items if they are lost to disaster. Print out the images and attach them to the list of items. If you choose, you can make your lists in other ways. Group related items together in the lists.

Repeat the process for every room in the house until you have all the items in the house listed and documented. Continue the process for items in the garage, attic, or around the yard. You will also want to include the information for all of your automobiles, boats, tractors, or other vehicles. Include pictures of these items as well and again attach them to the lists.

It may be more convenient to put the lists in the computer and copy them to a USB drive to keep with you at all times. Put the paper files in a fire resistant safe or other protected location. Having multiple file locations will help guarantee that your list will be available if you need to hire help for emergency services after a disaster.

There are now apps and software that will help you create your lists of items around your house. Never keep the information in just one place in case something happens to your phone, computer, or your home is hit by disaster and is declared a complete loss.

Remember to update your lists if you purchase or get rid of any items. Keep any receipts from newly purchased items and attach them to your lists. The more information you have, the easier it will to write a claim during the recovery process.

Organization Lists

Make a list of emergency contacts, including your insurance agent and physician. Keep that information in a safe place so that you can make all necessary calls when disaster strikes.

Make a list of items that need to be packed together if a natural disaster occurs. Knowing what to put into an emergency kit will make the process easier and faster – both are important in the event of an emergency.

The method that you choose to create your lists is not as important as the diligence with which you follow through on the lists. Having the right documentation in place will make it easier for you to start and complete the recovery process. Nobody wants to deal with a disaster, but it is important to have a plan in place in case disaster does strike. Making lists and taking pictures can help before a home disaster happens.