Simplify Your Family's Emergency Preparedness

The best method for storing
important documents

Organizing your fireproof waterproof file safe

open fireproof waterproof safe full of file folders showing how Melanie is storing important documents.

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In today’s digital age, it’s easy to forget about paper documents. But, there are some things that you just can’t go digital with! You need the original document or a physical copy of some of your most important information.


A fireproof waterproof file safe is the best method for storing important documents to keep them safe at home. Keep reading because I’m sharing all about why this is a really good idea, what to keep in your fireproof safe, and how to organize it all.

7 reasons why you should be storing important documents in a fireproof waterproof safe

  1. It naturally follows the step of being prepared for a house fire, which was Step 3.
  2. It’s relatively inexpensive.
  3. It’s relatively easy (can be done in a day)
  4. Regardless of where you live, NO ONE is safe from the possibility of a house fire or a flood.
  5. This is not only going to help you in the event of a fire or a flood.  This will help you get ORGANIZED in general, and have ONE place where all of your important documents are kept, to help simplify everyday life.  I love it when things have a dual outcome!
  6. Not only will this help you protect important documents, but it will draw your attention to anything that might be MISSING.  This is a great time to make sure you aren’t missing any birth certificates, shot records, social security cards, etc.  These are things that take time to get replacements of, so you are better off starting the process NOW to get replacements if anything is missing. **Tip:  If you are divorced, it’s worth the $20 to get an extra birth certificate so you have one at both mom’s and dad’s house for each child (in my opinion)**
  7. It’s extremely important.  So…let’s get to it!



Before we begin, I want to give this disclaimer:


Fireproof waterproof boxes are NOT 100%. They DO fail. Some of them do, some of them don’t. This is NOT a guarantee. Many of them are only rated for a certain amount of time in a fire. Ours is rated for 30 minutes. So basically, if it is consumed in flames for longer than 30 minutes (up to 1550 degrees), our stuff will be toast anyway. Even the flood protection is only good for 24 hours.


And even then, I have heard of them failing. So where this is not a 100% slam dunk, my personal feeling is, it’s better than nothing. If I am going to do the work to gather all of my stuff, I want to do everything I can to keep it protected. However, I would STILL recommend digitizing all of the things in your box, and keeping copies of them off-site (for example: a relative’s home). But again, I would rather increase the odds of saving the original documents if possible.

WHY do you need a fireproof waterproof document safe?

To protect your important documents from:

What documents are you protecting?

To get your free printable checklist for this post, all you have to do is subscribe to this blog (it’s free!), and the printable PDF link will be on the confirmation page. Subscribing to this blog gives you access to free printables that are only available to subscribers. You will also receive occasional emails (just from me – no one else) that will no doubt help you on your journey to preparedness, so it’s a win-win! ♥ Scroll down to the bottom of this page to subscribe and get your free printable.

If you are already a subscriber, these printables are available to you on the subscriber-only printables link that is included in every email.

A note on taxes: How many years should you hold on to??  This is directly from the IRS website, January 2024:  “Keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund after you file your return. Keep records for 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction.”

How should you organize your fireproof waterproof file safe?

This is also entirely up to you. I have included our personal list below, as well as an explanation of how I have ours organized. But this is your safe, so do it in a way that makes sense for you and your family.


I have 2 sets of hanging folders. The front set of 5 hanging folders is red and the back set of 5 hanging folders is blue. 


Some of those hanging folders are the only file folders for that category. For instance, our Medical folder doesn’t have a ton of stuff in there, so I just lumped it all together and didn’t separate any of it into subfolders.


Other colored hanging folders have quite a bit of stuff in them, so I put normal file folders inside them, to help organize the documents further.  An example of when I did this is our Insurance hanging folder. I subdivided this into 3 folders:

  • Life Insurance
  • Automobile Insurance
  • Homeowner’s Insurance



What I'm keeping in my fireproof safe and in what order:


In the front (before folders)

Birth/SS/Passports/Shot records

  • Birth Certificates // Social Security Cards // Passports // Shot Records
  • Wills //  Advanced Health Care Directives
  • Marriage License // Certificate
  • Copies (driver’s license, etc)


  • Life Insurance
  • Automobile Insurance
  • Homeowner’s Insurance
  • **Home Inventory


  • Credit Reports
  • Current Loans
  • Loan Payoffs
  • Retirement


  • Individual Ordinance Summaries
  • Blessing/Baptism/Priesthood Certificates
  • Patriarchal Blessings


  • Eye Glasses/Contacts Prescriptions
  • Hallie – Ear


  • Transcripts
  • Diplomas
  • Degrees

Divorce – Tyler

Divorce – Melanie

Taxes – 

  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022

*Important Info I decided that rather than putting one of each of our bills in this box, I would rather have ONE document with everything like that listed on it.  We have a password-protected document on our computer, with all of our important information in one spot.  Account numbers, company customer service phone numbers, web addresses, usernames, passwords, etc. 


Gosh.  I see another post coming…let’s make it Emergency Preparedness Step 5 !  Anyway, that’s what is at the very front of the box. I print out an updated copy of that document every six months and replace the existing one in the firebox.


**Home Inventory – we will cover this SOON in a future post!

Where should you keep your fireproof waterproof safe?

There are a few things to consider when deciding where to put this box.


  1. DISGUISE – Since this box contains pretty much every single personal identity document that you possess, this would be a gold mine for a robbery. You don’t want to put this box in an obvious location. Disguising it would be a good idea.
  2. ON MAIN LEVEL OF HOME – You may also want to consider the fact that if you were required to evacuate your home, the information in this safe would be incredibly important to take with you. So having it in a place that would be easy to grab it and go would also be a smart decision.
  3. WEIGHT – When empty, the box is relatively heavy, due to the materials used to make it fireproof and waterproof. Add to that the dense folders and papers, and you’ve got yourself a heft item. So don’t plan on storing this on the top shelf of a cupboard. The lower the better.
  4. EASY ACCESS – I don’t get into this safe on a daily basis, but I do open it quite frequently. When you consider all of the things that are in there, it’s not like you can put it together and then forget about it and not touch it for years. I am in this box every time:

What size safe should you get?

PLEASE make sure whatever box you decide on has these 3 features!



It seems silly to go to the work of gathering all of these things, and to spend the money on a box, if you aren’t protecting these things from everything you possibly can.  So I would highly encourage you to get a box that does all 3 of those things.




Small: They do have boxes that are quite small, that aren’t as tall as a file folder.

    • Pros:
      • Cheaper
      • Smaller to store
      • Less conspicuous
      • Easier to carry in the event of needing to evacuate
    • Cons:
      • Obviously these can’t hold as many papers/documents/things
      • Harder to organize because they don’t accommodate file folders

Large: I’m talking about the ones like mine, that can hold file folders

    • Pros:
      • Holds a lot more
      • Holds several file folders, making organization easy peasy
    • Cons:
      • More expensive
      • Harder to store
      • Harder to conceal
      • Harder to carry out in an evacuation



If you are going with a larger one, I would recommend wheels.  I got one without wheels and really regret it.  This sucker’s HEAVY!  It would be really awesome to have it on wheels when I need to pull it out to get something out/put something in.  And imagine grabbing it and getting it to the car for a quick evacuation.  One word.  WHEELS!

Where should you purchase your fireproof waterproof safe?

I got mine at Walmart on a rollback for $60ish. Other places that would have them: Target, Staples, etc. Mine is the older version of this one on Amazon. If I had to do it over again, I would get THIS one on Amazon. It looks like better quality and it has wheels. It has great reviews and looks like a solid buy. But, that’s just me. Just to be clear: I have NOT tried this box. But I am very tempted to upgrade to it.


Summary Checklist for storing important documents in a fireproof waterproof safe

This is easy.  Do not let the long list of documents overwhelm you.  It goes a lot quicker than you think.  I promise.


Decide on the size box you want and order it today.  That is your first step.  It’s easy.  If you are getting the larger box and you don’t have file folders, you can order those on Amazon as well.  Those are the only “supplies” you will need. 


If you would rather go to a store to purchase these things, go put them on your Target or Walmart or Staples or whatever list.  (If you don’t have a constant list going for one or all of these stores, check out my Store Lists post to get you organized!)


You can split this up and gather a few documents a day, so that by the time you have your box and file folders, everything is ready to organize.  Or, wait til you have the supplies, block out a morning or an afternoon one day this week, and GET IT ALL DONE IN ONE SHOT!


Okay, so now for reals.  Here is the checklist:


  • Buy a fireproof waterproof box
  • Buy file folders (hanging and/or normal, depending on how you want to organize it)
  • Print out the printable PDF checklist
  • Gather all documents you want in your box
  • Organize!
  • Find a good spot for it
  • Move on to Emergency Preparedness Step 5 – Organize Important Information in ONE PLACE (you’ll love this one – it’s FREE!!!! And will only take you a couple hours max!)

For a helpful post on digitizing photos, home movies, journals, and other important memories, read this post HERE!

For other Emergency Preparedness posts, go to the EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS tab, or click HERE.

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