Natural disasters--whether tornado, flood, earthquake or fire--can be devastating both personally and professionally. Although you can't control disasters, you can take steps to prepare for the unexpected.
- Make a video record of your belongings. Buy, rent or borrow a video camera, and videotape everything in your home office. (While you're at it, film the rest of your home as well.) While taping, describe in detail everything you see. As they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words." In this case, your video record could mean several thousand dollars extra in insurance claims. Store the video in a safe place where it will be accessible if you need it: in your safe deposit box, at your spouse's off-site office or out of town with friends or relatives.
- Another option is to keep a written record of your belongings with accompanying photographs. Then store the record in your safe deposit box.
- Keep receipts and warranty information from large purchases in a hanging file folder labeled "Purchases." Within the file, label interior folders "Electronic," "Appliances" and any other general category of purchases. Before filing a receipt, staple it to the corresponding warranty booklet.
- Backup your data regularly and keep at least two copies (three is ideal). Store one copy in your office and two off-site. It's easy to purchase another computer, but data is difficult and time-consuming to replace.
- Store important business and personal documents in your safe deposit box or in a fireproof file cabinet. Information ranging from insurance policies to investment information can be time-consuming to replace. You may not need to refer to this kind of information often, but when you need it, you know it will be safe.
- Start a file labeled "Emergency Information," and keep it in the top drawer of your file cabinet. Inside, keep copies of your insurance papers, credit card numbers and other vital information that you would need easy access to in the event of an emergency.
- Make sure your home office equipment is insured. Don't assume your homeowner's insurance covers everything in your home. You may need to purchase additional coverage. The time to find out about coverage is before you need it.
Unfortunately, there is very little you can do to avoid natural disasters. By being prepared, however, you can make the impact more bearable.
Home office expert Lisa Kanarek is the founder of HomeOfficeLife.com and the author of Organizing Your Home Office For Success (Blakely Press) and 101 Home Office Success Secrets (Career Press).
Brother home office expert Lisa Kanarek advises corporations and individuals on all aspects of working from home and writes the blog Working Naked. She is the author of several books, including Working Naked: A guide to the bare essentials of home office life.