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Protect vital records from fire, CPA group says

Original post made by Andrea Gemmet, Almanac staff writer, on Nov 29, 2007

In the wake of the recent fires in Southern California, the California Society of Certified Public Accountants has put together this list of important documents to protect in case a fire or other disaster threatens your home.
CalCPA is the nation's largest state accounting organization, says Bill Spaniel, the group's public relations manager. There are more suggestions on the Web site, Web Link .

Ten Ways to Protect Your Home, Valuables and Vital Records:

1. Have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, garage and on each
level of your home.

2. Keep important documents, computer CDs, photos, jewelry and
other valuables in a fire-proof and waterproof safe.

3. If you do not have a safe, secure important records in a
vacuum-sealed freezer bag and store in a frost-free freezer.

4. Walk through your home and create a video or photographic record of every room and its major contents. If using a camcorder, record voice-over descriptions of important items. If taking digital photos, write descriptions of items on the back of prints.

5. Inventory all your valuables and important documents.

6. Store originals or copies of the inventory, important documents, video or photographic records in a bank lockbox.

7. Change the batteries in smoke detectors at least twice a year.
Test battery-operated or household-current smoke detectors monthly.

8. Frequently back-up critical data on your computer and store on
CDs, flash drives or a tape drive.

9. Back up digital copies of important documents and photographs on a remote server.

10. Make sure your homeowner's insurance policy provides adequate
coverage and take out additional coverage on high-end items such as
jewelry and home office equipment

Fourteen Documents to Secure:

1. Birth certificates, marriage licenses, military discharge
papers, death certificates, wills, trusts and other important life-event documents

2. Property titles

3. Social Security cards

4. Passports

5. Insurance records

6. Credit card numbers and contacts

7. Automobile pink slips

8. Medical records, including prescription numbers

9. Records of passwords and IDs for bank accounts and Web sites you frequently use

10. Phone numbers and addresses for relatives, friends, physicians
and other important contacts

11. Federal and state income tax returns for the past three years

12. Receipts for high-end purchases such as jewelry, fine art and
high-tech equipment

13. Bonds and stock certificates

14. Household inventory

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