Are your photos safe in the event of a natural disaster?

burning houseThe news lately has been full of stories of natural disasters affecting millions of people: fires in California, hurricanes in the northeast or along the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, and an earthquake in North Carolina.  What all of these have in common is that they could significantly damage our homes.  In addition, when the disaster is approaching, we don’t have a lot of time to prepare and to save our belongings, especially our photos.  It is important that our photos are protected and safe in the event of a natural disaster.

When we are confronted with a natural disaster in our homes we try to protect and save what is most precious and important to us – the 3 P’s: people, pets, and photos.  People and pets are portable and are usually easy to evacuate.  But our photos may not be as portable.  If your photos are stored in boxes and bins in closets, basements, or attics or are displayed in photo albums on book shelves then it would be difficult to quickly grab them to get them out of your house and pile them into your vehicle.  However, if your photos have been digitized and stored on an external hard drive or safely in secure cloud storage then they are portable and accessible from anywhere.

Now is the time to think about securing your photos before you are confronted with a disaster.  Here are a few steps to follow to ensure that your photos are portable and safe.

  1. Locate and inventory all your photos

    When you start looking, you may be a bit surprised as to where you have stored your photos and how many you have.  Don’t just look for printed photos, also include slides and videos.  And don’t forget about memorabilia.  All of these items can be digitized.

  2. Sort and organize your photos

    sorting photosThere is no right or wrong way to organize your photos but it is an important thing to do in order to make them easier to access.  If they are already in some sort of chronological order (by decade, year, and month) then try as best you can to maintain that.  Otherwise, you may also want to consider organizing them thematically such as by event, location, holiday, family, kids’ sports, etc.

  3. Digitize your photos

    Digitizing your photo collection ensures that it is preserved, portable and easily accessible.  When digitizing, be sure to maintain the organizing structure that you created when sorting your photos.  Don’t just digitized a pile of photos because then you are left with a digital mess.  If there is writing on the back of the photo that helps to identify the location or people, then it is a good practice to also digitize the back of the photo.
    scanning photos

  4. Backup your photos

    Having your digitized photos in only one location, such as your computer, does not ensure their safety.  When you back them up to multiple locations such as an external hard drive and secure cloud storage, this ensures redundancy and protects them in case one type of media fails.

If you find that doing all of this work to preserve your photos is a bit overwhelming, you might want to consider hiring a professional, such as myself, to help you – a Certified Photo Manager.

Your photos are a precious procession, they reflect the story of your life, so it is important that they are protected and safe in the event of a natural disaster.

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