Friday, September 15, 2017

Tips for Creating a Household Inventory

Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

We’ve had drought, wildfires, a spring blizzard, flooding, tornadoes, hazardous wind, and extreme heat advisories in Kansas this year and it is only September. Disasters do not plan ahead, but that doesn’t mean you can’t.

Being prepared for the disasters that may affect your home, business and community is important. Taking inventory of what you have and recording it is a good place to start. After all, you do not know where to get back to if you don’t know where you started, right?

In the middle of a crisis when there’s so much on your mind, it’s hard to remember every detail. An accurate inventory is a necessity, whether you’re a homeowner, business manager, or a renter. Emergencies and disasters may result in insurance claims. Your insurance company will likely require a listing of items lost or destroyed in order to document the claim. A household inventory is an itemized list of the contents of your home, including basement, attic, and garage.

While it is true there is an initial investment of time and effort in preparing the inventory from scratch, once completed it will be useful into the future with regular updating. Elizabeth Kiss, K-State Research and Extension Family Resource Management Specialist, provides the following tips to help you prepare and update your inventory.

  • Household inventories can take many forms. Use the format that best suits your needs. Don’t get hung up on being perfect, if you are starting from scratch focus on the big ticket and hard to replace items.
  • When describing furnishings and equipment, be as specific and accurate as possible. Include the original cost, date purchased, any alternations or repairs done on the item, and corresponding cost.
  • Photograph or videotape every wall in each room of your home and storage areas. Include open closets, cabinets, cupboards, and drawers. Take close-ups of unique or expensive items to document their condition, and strive to date photographs. When videotaping, verbally describe the contents as you move around the room.
  • Remember to include personal items stored away from home such as in a vehicle. If you have sheds or storage areas on your property or if you rent a storage unit somewhere else, be sure to include a list of the contents of those. You will also want to consider if any valuables are stored where you work, worship, or even in a school locker.
  • Save copies in more than one format and in more than one place. Keep a working document (paper or electronic) of your inventory on site plus store copies in a few places away from the insured dwelling, such as in a safety deposit box, with a trusted person, on a flash drive, or on a virtual storage cloud.
  • Add newly acquired items to your inventory and include a new photo or video. Update the inventory when items are discarded. Set aside a little time each year to make these updates. One idea is make it an annual habit to participate in Prepare Kansas each September.

What is Prepare Kansas?

Prepare Kansas is a free online challenge for all Kansans and others available through the K-State Research and Extension Facebook Page. Prepare Kansas runs through September to coincide with National Preparedness Month, coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Prepare Kansas shares information, links and resources, which can make recovery smoother and faster. Participants are encouraged to engage in challenges throughout the month, providing accountability as you personally take steps to prepare for potential disasters. Contact your local Post Rock District Office if you need assistance accessing resources or to learn more about #PrepareKansas.

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