Tahoe Chief’s Corner: It’s important to prepare a household inventory | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Chief’s Corner: It’s important to prepare a household inventory

Ryan Sommers
Chief’s Corner

Over the past few weeks, we've reviewed several Emergency Preparedness Steps. The final piece is preparing a household inventory.

A household inventory is an itemized list of your personal belongings. It provides a method of knowing exactly what personal property you own. An accurate household inventory is a necessity whether you are a homeowner or a renter.

It gives a record of your personal belongings for insurance purposes and is useful in planning replacements of furnishings and equipment. In case of a loss due to burglary, vandalism, or wildfire, your insurance company requires a listing of all items lost or destroyed. Once completed, the inventory will be useful for a long time; update your inventory accordingly.

Where should the inventory be stored?

After saving the files on a flash drive to your hard drive, laptop or PC, complete the "My Household Inventory" form; keep flash drive with you, such as on your keychain, in your purse, or in the glove box of your car. Also keep an extra flash drive along with a printed copy at a location away from the insured dwelling, as in a safe-deposit box. Keep all copies up to date and compare them on a semi-annual basis.

How do I complete the inventory?

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Photograph all walls in your home that have home furnishings. Photograph open closets, cabinets, cupboards, and drawers. For insurance purposes, take close-ups of unique or expensive items to document their existence and condition. Save these photographs in the "Interior Photos" file and save to a flash drive.

Photograph your home, property, and any other structures. Save them in the "Exterior Photos" file and save to flash drive. Consider recording a narrated tour of your home and property, describing the contents as you go room by room and around the exterior.

Gather your product manuals and use them to list furnishing or equipment details on your household inventory. Printed photographs should be kept with the printed household inventory in a location away from the premises. Include any personal items owned by family members but not always stored at home.

Print a copy of the inventory for storage away from the home in a secure location. Annually update the inventory by making needed changes and deleting discarded items.

What should be included?

When listing items include the original cost, the date purchased, any alterations or repairs done on the item, and the corresponding cost, especially if that repair or alteration made the item appreciate in value.

The cost should only include the charge for the item, not finance or shipping charges. Inventories can include the current cash value of the item. This is useful in determining your net worth or the amount of insurance coverage needed on personal property.

"Chief's Corner" is a regular feature from North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Ryan Sommers and other regional fire chiefs, offering information, tips and education material on fire safety, emergency preparedness and other pertinent topics.

The current value of the item is an estimate of what the item is currently worth to others (not you). An estimate of worth could be computed by dividing the original cost of the item by its expected useful life and deducting that amount for each year of use.

When describing your furnishings and equipment, be as specific as possible. For appliances, record the manufacturer, model, serial number and size.

Any items that are worth more than they appear, such as antiques or original works of art, should be given special consideration. Get an expert's appraisal to determine their worth. These items could be covered by a "floater" to a property insurance policy.

"Chief's Corner" is a regular feature from North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Ryan Sommers and other regional fire chiefs, offering information, tips and education material on fire safety, emergency preparedness and other pertinent topics.