Since I was not home at the time, I learned of the fire first by e-mail and Internet. I quickly called the neighbors who said the wind was blowing it away from where we live and unless it changed directions we were probably safe. Looking at my laptop computer I knew that I had saved genealogy files to it before I left home. However, if the wind changed directions, nothing would be safe at home.
Once back home, friends told us about loosing their homes and belongings. Several of them simply got out with no possessions. Others had only minutes to grab what they could. Most told stories of grabbing photographs and family treasures. Hopefully none of you will experience disaster, such as flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake or fire. So how safe are your genealogical belongings and treasures?
It is a good idea to make back ups, at the minimum once a month, of your genealogical files. If photographs are on your computer, back those up also. The CDs that you use for back up can be stored in a safe place such as a bank deposit box. They can also be sent to relatives who hopefully will be out of harm's way should disaster strike your home. In order that the CDs do not deteriorate with time, make new ones occasionally.
A friend of mine purchased a new computer and gave his old one (which wasn't very old) to his daughter. His genealogy files were on the computer and every time he updated information, he sent her a CD with the new information to update the hand-me-down computer. Thus, he was reassured of having the data if disaster struck or if he experienced computer failure.
Some genealogists devote one hard drive to nothing but genealogical files. This can easily be disconnected and grabbed in case of an emergency. Another option is the USB Flash Devise. These small, portable devices come in various memory sizes and prices and can go with you at all times.
Grabbing photographs is not always a option when faced with life-threatening situations. You can always keep the originals, but scan them and place them on CDs or DVDs which can be stored in a safe place or shared. Documents can also be scanned and saved. Other family treasures, such as china, crystal, silver and jewelry are less apt to be stored in a safe place. Most of us enjoy having these items displayed in our homes or worn.
Have a back up plan. Keep in mind what can happen to your home and belongings. Prepare a map or location guide showing where precious items are located. If there is ample time, you will be able to locate items you want under duress. Periodically test your genealogy files in any format for content, workability and make sure they are up to date.
There are places on Internet to submit your genealogical data. While the entire world can view your files, they still remain safe from disasters or computer crashes you may experience. Some of these are:
OneWorldTree - http://www.ancestry.com
RootsWorldConnect - http://worldconnect.genealogy.rootsweb.com/
FamilySearch - Pedigree Resource File - http://www.familysearch.org
PedigreeSoft.com - http://www.PedigreeSoft.com
Photographs can also be shared by CDs or DVDs as well as stored on Internet sites, such as these:
Snapfish - http://www.snapfish.com
Kodak Easy Share Gallery - http://www.kodakgallery.com
May genealogical good fortunate bless your computer.
May all the winds blow peacefully in the right direction.
May the oceans and rivers never rise.
May the earth stay stable and never tremble.
And may you never forget to back-up and preserve your treasures.