This article is one of a series of posts that emerged due to the 2017 wildfires that ravaged California wine country near our home.
Whatever level of preparedness you apply before a disaster, there is a chance that much of the contents of your home could be lost. Somethings are irreplaceable (see the post on preserving family photos), but many are not. If you have homeowners insurance (and you should) then replacing those replaceables becomes an exercise in documentation.
Writing down the entire list of everything in your house is obviously a dull task. A nice shortcut is to photograph or video everything in your house. This works better than a written manifest anyway since it can be provided as documentation in case the insurance company has doubts whether you possessed certain items at all.
Video has some advantages over individual photos because it provides a continuous flow of images that provides context. A photo of a large LED TV on an anonymous wall, somewhere, may not provide enough context to prove that was your TV on your wall.
There’s no need for a complicated camcorder. Any modern smartphone will do.
Once you’ve gathered up your photos and video there’s an important step to take. Store that data somewhere other than in your house! This should go without saying given a previous post on the topic of storing computer data outside of the house but I thought it worth mentioning again.
Some articles on the subject have recommended storing the data on a thumb drive that’s included in your go bag. Not a bad idea, but also not ideal if you are forced to flee before you can grab your go bag. Always have a copy stored somewhere far from home that you can access from anywhere. If your computer is backed up to the cloud then storing a copy of the video on it will ensure it’s uploaded somewhere far afield, and presumably safe.