Fireboxes are in important storage piece for anyone who values their high dollar belongings or has important legal documents. Fireboxes are designed to withstand heat and fire up to a certain temperature. Be sure to check the firebox for its specific rating as they do vary in quality. Any document that proves ownership, status or identity, has original signatures, and would be a huge pain to replace should be kept in a firebox.
Examples of documents that should be stored in a firebox include:
the deed to your home
title to your vehicles
social security card
legal decrees or documents
A couple of years ago, I helped a client set up the firebox she’d purchased and organize all of her important records. In the spring, she emailed me this update:
“I have had less than a good time this week and thought I would share the story as it could help you and your other clients. I thought my documents were safe in my fire safe but not true. My husband and I were going to get new passports for the kids. So I was going through our fire safe looking for important documents. First of all I discovered that I can’t find their Social Security cards. That made me feel crazy, because that’s exactly where I would keep them. I must’ve pulled them out for filling out paperwork for school and misplaced them. So that is something fun we’ll get to look for next week at our appointment. And I’d like you to help me figure out how to get myself to put things back where they belong instead of leaving them out and misplacing them.
But the most upsetting thing that I found was my old passports in our fire safe were covered in a powdery brown substance. I’m not sure if it’s mold or mildew. I’m guessing mildew based on the smell and the look of it. I was freaked out because all of our important documents are in there: our wills, marriage license, birth certificates, baptismal records, SS cards…everything. All of the documents have a funny smell, even the ones that I have in separate plastic bags. I even have a desiccant in the safe with the documents. Anyway, I thought I would share this article as I was totally in the dark on proper storage using a fire safe…I really thought I was doing all the right things. Hope this helps you and others avoid my woes.
Looking forward to our session on Thursday.”
We narrowed down her firebox mildew problem to three possibilities:
- When they were placed in the firebox, she was unaware they had moisture on them.
- The room in which she stores the firebox is extremely humid.
- There is some type of cracked seal in the firebox.
Here’s the plan we came up with to protect the contents of her firebox:
We cleaned off all of her documents and made sure they were thoroughly dry before placing them in Ziploc bags. She purchased desiccants with status colors so she could check once per month to see if they were still operational and collecting moisture. She’d purchased a new firebox, which we relocated to a less-humid room.
Six months later, the documents are still in good shape. If a mishap like this is a concern to you, consider checking your firebox contents at least once every six months to ensure that they’re still properly protected.