This summer, Australia has experienced our worst bushfires ever. They have destroyed homes, livelihoods, acreage, forests – anything that stands in its way. Across eastern and southern Australia, families were left with little more than the clothes they stood in.
What the survivors mourn most is the loss of essential family documents and precious photographs, memories handed down through generations.
‘Be prepared’ has always been the motto for both Guides and Scouts and preparation for unforeseen disasters striking your family home is sensible, practical advice, wherever you live.
Make a start with your own family Grab and Go file to preserve your family documents and photos.
I use one of those plastic portable filing cases, with drop files inside and a lid that snaps shut. Each drop down file is named and contains a manila folder with the following: bank details, mortgage documents, wills, birth, marriage and death certificates, passports, contact details of doctor, dentist, solicitor, bank manager, insurance broker, financial advisor, etc.
I put together a folder for each family member containing their relevant, personal documents – school and university certificates/degrees, any sporting awards, poems or essays, photos from various life stages and highlights plus several pieces of small, personal memorabilia such as war medals, love letters, a wedding garter and so on.
Our Grab and Go kit stands in a bookcase near the front door, in handy reach should any family member need to flee our home. I also put together a separate file case containing the originals of all of the documents inside our home kit, which is kept at our bank, for safety. Copies of our documents are kept up-dated in our Grab and Go file case.
Have you gone digital?
In this digital age have you scanned or snapped your family treasures- photos, heirlooms, jewellery etc and stored them online? If not consider doing so because unless your computer is part of your Grab & Go file then you will lose a great deal of what you cherish. It is an excellent idea to save the contents of your file online as a double precaution; I use Google Drive and Google Photos.
Why not ‘be prepared’ and put together your own family Grab and Go kit this week and begin to save it online?
None of us has a crystal ball to prepare ourselves and our families before disaster strikes. I have heard some of this current bush fire catastrophe lament the fact that their precious memories went up in smoke, never to be seen again. Don’t let this happen to you!
Annie Payne, Personal Historian since 1988, History from the Heart