How to protect your files from a hurricane

Genealogy files: how to protect them during a hurricane.

As a Florida native, we face natural disasters on a yearly basis. We think about our home, our pets, and as the family historian, our genealogy files. How do we protect our files, photos and family heirlooms?

In typical hurricane preparations, we take photos of everything in our home that is of worth and would need to be replaced. This goes for any family heirlooms. They are most likely not replaceable but photos can help if they are lost.

Clear plastic lawn bags and plastic totes are a genealogists’ friend during a natural disaster, such as a hurricane!

Family photos should be scanned already and stored in a digital file, however, we always want to care for our originals. Put them in plastic (I like clear trash bags) and then place in a plastic tub. That tub can be taped. Should your home flood, they will be protected. For the larger, framed photos that cannot be put in a tub, place in plastic and secure. Place them up high on a table or bed.


I do not keep my family genealogy files in plastic tubs but in cardboard file boxes. Those boxes fit perfectly inside large, clear plastic trash bags. Each box goes in to one bag and the bag is closed with a tied knot. I place them all back in to my file closet, which has shelves up. It’s the safest space in my home for those files.

Books. We all have them and some are irreplaceable! The ones that are irreplaceable get wrapped in plastic and then placed in plastic tubs, similar to photos. The remaining books can be placed in plastic bags and placed up higher. If you have a lot of books like I do, a plastic drop cloth can cover the whole bookcase(s) and tape those down to create a secured, dry space for your books.

Finally, BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER! Make sure your computer is backed up to the cloud. I use Dropbox and all of my files are stored in the cloud. Should my computer crash or, in this case, flood, my digitals files are secured and available anywhere.

Beyond your files, the most important aspect is YOU and your family! Stay safe!

Ashley Gonzalez