What would you rescue from your burning house?

House fire

You wake during the night to the smell of smoke, and jump out of bed to find the living room of the house is ablaze. Your first priority is to get your family to safety of course and phone the emergency services. That taken care of, say you’ve got one chance to take something as you leave your home for possibly the last time. What would it be? Something valuable, something sentimental?

When I considered this scenario, I concluded that if I had a chance, I would take my photos with me if I could. Pretty much everything else could be replaced but, when I thought about it, my photos are priceless memories which I’ll enjoy for years to come… memories of my childhood, holidays, friends, our wedding, my own family growing up. Much of my older photos are still in albums, while some are still in their wallets piled in boxes in the loft. I’ve also got quite a few wooden slide boxes full of 35mm transparencies (yip, no chance in a fire!). More recently, my digital photos are on my PC and backed up to an external hard drive.

It’s very, very  easy to get complacent about this and hope it will never happen to you. So I guess I should make an effort to get all my photo albums and 35mm transparencies digitised and get everything onto my external backup drive. Another possibility would be a fireproof safe but could I trust it to save all my photos and transparencies? I doubt it. Anyway it would have to be pretty large and therefore the cost would be prohibitive. Going the digital route, ideally, I should have two backup drives and do weekly rolling backups, keeping one drive away from the house, say at my parents’ house and swapping these out weekly to update them. That way I’d be covered against fire, flooding, theft, etc. and wouldn’t have to hunt for a laptop or external drive in a burning house. Wouldn’t cost too much either, in fact I reckon buying two external 500GB backup drives would cost around £100 ($160). I don’t have videos so 500GB drives should be fine and I can always upgrade them when I need more storage. Alternatively, I could backup my photos to the cloud but this would take quite some time to upload and with an annual cost of around $50-100 per year, I think I’m better off with offsite storage. I wouldn’t rely on keeping everything just in the cloud anyway – I would have to have a physical backups. But surely two drives doing a rolling backup would be enough wouldn’t it. Any thoughts?

So what would you take with you from your burning home?

Image credit: 111Emergency

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