We have some friends in Austin, Texas. They posted a video of their neighborhood, and it wasn’t pretty. Quiet streets had turned into raging rivers. We heard a guy interviewed on television that had been swept away in his car. He managed to escape and called a local station so that he could be rescued and so that his wife would know he was okay.

He was calling from a tree.

It made us start to think, though. What would happen to our world if a disaster were to happen? We feel pretty safe from flooding, but what about a fire? Central Virginia had a pretty interesting earthquake a few years ago. We’re also a prime spot for hurricanes. We’ve seen a tornado or two.

What if someone leaves the water running in the bathroom and we arrive in the morning to a flood?

The things in our warehouse are just things. Reams of paper, desks, coffee machines, pencils – all things that can be replaced. But we have 15 years worth of vital business records that can’t be replaced. Tax data. Sales records. Customer information. Employment reports. These are all things that need to be protected, and you likely have them also.

The first thing you must do to protect yourself is inventory what you have. What must you retain to rebuild your business in a case of disaster? These are the records that you need to take the greatest steps to protect.

Can you scan them and keep them electronically? Certainly, but that doesn’t mean they’re 100% safe.

So get a safe.Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 3.42.27 PM

Every safe, however, is not made the same. Much like vehicles have varying degrees of ‘ruggedness,’ so too do safes. You might not want to take your Prius four-wheeling, and you might not want electronic records in a cheap safe.

A safe is rated for durability. Would it survive a drop from four stories and maintain integrity? They are also rated for fire. ‘Fire Resistant’ and ‘Fire Retardant’ are two very different things. They also carry different levels of heat protection. Your safe may keep paper records from turning to ash, but electronic drives and files would still end up as muddy pools of technology.

FireKing, for example, offers a line of safes and file boxes that are coated with gypsum, and can protect from fire and heat for a minimum of one hour. They’re rugged and durable, so go ahead and toss them from the roof. They are also water resistant, so when the local fire brigade comes to save the day, you’ll not have survived the fire only to lose everything to a fire hose. They also make storage containers specifically for your electronics.

Be prepared.