Living in Southern California, the hellish Santa Ana winds usually come up in October and many times bring fire with them. This year the winds were unusually strong, with gusts up to 100 miles an hour in some of the canyons. The resulting fire storms caused widespread damage, especially in San Diego county where hundreds of homes were burned to the ground.
In the Temecula area, where I live, we had fires just a few miles away with thick billowing smoke filling the sky. In talking with many of the people that I work with, many had friends or relatives who lost their homes. The sad reality is many of these people had little or no warning that they had to evacuate. When the fire trucks came down the street they had only minutes to get family and pets together and load up any belongings.
I asked myself the question… what would I take if I only had five minutes to get out? I quickly realized that there are a lot of things to consider. There are the irreplaceable items such as photographs and memorabilia that would be important. I would want to take along legal, financial, and insurance documents that would be needed after the fire was over. Computers and electronic data would also be vital. The list quickly grew and I can just imagine how hard it must have been for so many people faced with this situation.
The TV news programs were showing people going through the ashes of their burned homes, looking for anything that remained. This brought up the importance of creating a home inventory that would be used along with the insurance adjuster to provide a list of items that would need to be replaced.
When I actually put all the pieces together, three things became very apparent…
1. The important documents, photos, and memorabilia should be easily accessible and stored in one place.
2. A home inventory should be performed and updated as new items are added.
3. All of these items would need to fit in a car or truck and be able to be grabbed in five minutes.
After considering all the ramifications I sat down at my computer and came up with some inventory and insurance cards that would be helpful in an emergency situation. I put these cards together into a template for Microsoft word that you can download and print out on your computer.
The MS Word Business Card template contains…
1 & 2. Basic Inventory Cards
Use this card to record the important information about items you have around the house. Create cards for appliances, electronics, and furniture, along with cards for smaller items. Systematically go through your house or apartment one room at a time. Create a card for each item in the room, including the contents of desks, drawers, closets, etc. Describe each item as completely as possible, including color, size and quantity. When you’re finished with all the rooms in your house, don’t forget the garage, patio, outside buildings, etc.
Collect the cards and put them in a stack. You can use a mini clip or business card holder to keep them organized. To back these up, photocopy the cards 10 at a time onto regular paper and file these copies with your important papers.
We also have included a single line description card for small items where a full gamut of information is not available. You can quickly list the contents of drawers, closets, and work areas on the eight lines provided. These cards along with a digital photo of the items should give you a good starting point for a claim.
3. Basic Information Card
When you have to evacuate your house, you may need to leave basic information behind for a firefighter or other emergency worker. Here is a simple card that you can fill out ahead of time that you can quickly hand to a neighbor, family member or the fireman standing at your front door. This will give them multiple ways to contact you after the emergency is over.
4. Emergency Contact Information
Like the card above but with contact information for friends or relatives. These can be used for emergencies but they are also helpful to keep in pocket or purse when you have to provide emergency contact information at the doctor’s offices or at your children’s school.
5-7. Insurance Information Cards
We have provided three types of insurance information cards. There is one for Homeowners/Renters insurance, one for Car Insurance, and another for Life Insurance. These can be very important in an emergency since they have your policy number, your agents phone number and the company contact number and address. Having all three of these filled out and available will give you peace of mind. You can make multiple sets and keep these in your car and at work for quick reference.
8. Account Information
This quick reference card has a place for your bank and financial account phone numbers and reference information. These cards can be invaluable after an emergency to get to be able to call up your bank or financial institution and report a loss. So many people have their account info memorized on their computer, that if their cpu was lost or damaged would have a hard time remembering each individual account. These cards can help.
9. Computer Install Codes
If your computer crashes or is damaged in a fire and has to be replaced, do you have the software codes to re-install your operating system? How about your installed programs? This quick reference card has a place for the software name and the codes. You can make a copy of this card and keep it under your monitor for that day that your computer crashes and you can’t remember where you put the CD sleeve with the install code.
10. Utility Company Phone Numbers.
This handy card has a place for your utility company phone numbers. This quick reference document is useful to alert your utilities of a loss and also handy when you move. You can quickly cancel or forward service to your next residence. There is also an optional place for your account numbers for reference.
11. Full Sheet Basic Inventory Cards
We have also included a full sheet MS Word template of the basic inventory cards along with a front &rear double sided inventory card template that you can print on both sides that has twice the space. Both of these are included in the Zip file.
Instructions for use:
- Download the Inventory Card Template for MS Word
- Open the template(s) and modify as necessary
- Print out on Avery Business Card Stock (10 Card)
- Break cards apart
- Fill out individual cards
- For portability, stack cards in order and clip together with mini clip
- Transport easily in pocket or purse
- Keep in a quick access location like a desk drawer or file cabinet
- Optional: Add info cards to your Walleteer organizer