How To Prepare to Move Your Gear in an Emergency Relocation

Stuff happens. We all know that. Occasionally bad things happen that require you to leave your home and move elsewhere temporarily while the damage to your home is being remediated. Recently I had such an incident occur that now requires me to move out of our new abode in Chicago to a temporary location for at least two months while work is done in our condo. Fortunately our unit did not suffer as much damage as others in our building did.

IMG_0858What happened? The short story is that during the first Polar Vortex that hit the Midwest in early January a water pipe froze and broke on the floor above us, sending a cascade of water running from the 5th floor of our building to the 1st. Fortunately for us, most of the worst damage was in units across the hall, but we did have water seep in through the floor and into the walls. That will necessitate a new floor and new walls. Which in turns means everything we don’t need to live with daily goes into storage for the duration. Again, none of our possessions were harmed, just damage to the floors and walls. So we count our blessings on that front.

But that still means packing everything up and moving it to a new location or to storage. Since we depend on the Internet for work and play it also means shutting off broadband and transferring that service to the new location. Our insurance company will have a contractor doing most of the packing and moving, but there is technology that I wouldn’t dare trust to a third party to pack up and move, much less store. So I am doing that work myself.

Obviously if a disaster befalls you that damages your gear you are in a different situation than we’re experiencing here. Here are some tips on how to prepare to move your gear that might help you if your find yourself temporarily having to relocate an emergency situation.

Be prepared

If you are a home owner you most likely have insurance to cover damages and relocation costs. Make sure your policy has enough coverage to provide you with what you need. Insurance polices can be tricky things and you need to focus on not just the costs of repairing any damage but also the cost of moving your belongings and the cost of temporary housing. Typically, these are separate line items in your policy.

If you’re a renter you should have renter’s insurance for the same reason that home owners do. In either case it is a prudent move to provide your insurance company with a list of your gear and gadgets. Taking that kind of inventory can be an enlightening example of how much you have invested in tech gear, in addition to your other belongings.

Backup

You do back up your data regularly don’t you? If not, this is the perfect time to start. (Although you should have been doing this anyway.) These days many of us are somewhat spoiled because of the Cloud. Operating systems allow us to back up our mobile and other devices via Cloud services so that we can bring back our data if we are switching devices or need to restore data because of a problem. If you’re heading into a situation where you aren’t sure when you might be bringing a device back online, having a non-Cloud backup could save your bacon. Backing up your data to a separate external hard drive and then carefully packing that drive can be a lifesaver and is highly recommended in any case. You never know when those Cloud services might fail.

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Boxes

IMG_0862You run the risk of being called a packrat, but saving the boxes that your gadgets came in provides you with the best way to repack them in the case of a move. The original packaging helped get your device to you when you first purchased it. There’s no reason it won’t suffice again. But if you didn’t save your boxes and packaging, you’ll need to come up with solutions to protect your gadgets on your own. I typically wrap a large gadget or piece of gear in bubble wrap, which can be purchased at most hardware stores, then place the bubble wrapped gadgets in a box. Don’t scrimp on the bubble wrap if you take this option. Smaller devices, like laptops, go in padded backpacks along with a cables and other accessories. By the way, saving original boxes is also a good idea if you want to sell your devices when it is time to get new ones. Original packing can increase the resale value in some instances.

Batteries and Power

Many of our devices and peripherals use batteries. Everything from keyboards to mice to laptops. If you’re not sure when you’re going to be using a device during your relocation, take the time to remove batteries and store them separately. Peripherals that use standard AA or AAA batteries are easy to overlook, and you don’t want to get ready to use your Bluetooth keyboard and find out that the batteries that power it have corroded inside the battery compartment. Of course some of our gadgets come with batteries sealed away from the user. Whether you can remove the battery or not, make sure you shut down the device appropriately before packing it up. Oh, and don’t forget to take the batteries out of your TV and home theatre remotes if you aren’t going to be using them for awhile either.

Cable labeling

One of the biggest time consuming aspects of packing things is gathering up cables. Most of us keeping adding to our gadget and gear collections, the majority of the time adding new cables to the spaghetti monsters behind our desks or work stations. During our recent move back to Chicago late last summer I was surprised at the number of cables I no longer needed that had just been collecting dust. I take the time to make labels for cables as I’m packing them up so that hooking things back up will be somewhat easier. I also try to snap pictures of the back of devices like audio receivers to remember what I’ve plugged what into.

Dealing with broadband provider

Depending on your temporary relocation time frame and situation, you will need to figure out how to acquire broadband at the temporary digs. Sure you could use a smartphone or a Tablet as a mobile hotspot. But if you do a lot of work and/or play on the web you’ll eat into your data cap pretty quickly. Most broadband providers offer an option to move your service from one address to another. Most will also be understanding if you need to temporarily shut off your service because of an emergency situation. But depending on were you live and where you’re relocating to, you might find this more challenging than just a simple phone call to arrange a switch. Buildings, such as the one we’re leaving temporarily often have chosen a provider that locks you into that service. Ours is Comcast. We rejected one early option for a new location because that building used another provider exclusively.

Keep in mind that if you’re needing to temporarily relocate because of an emergency situation that your insurance company won’t reimburse you for adding a broadband connection unless for some reason you have to leave the current one intact. They assume you paid for one before you’ll be paying the same rate. If your rate or provider has to change because of the move, depending on your insurance policy you might be able to be reimbursed for additional costs incurred but this is a touchy area with insurance providers.

Note though that if you use the Internet for work purposes in your home, depending on how your insurance policy is written, you can request temporary relocation to a place that has suitable Internet. You may not get the same bandwidth you had at home, but you’ll be able to get connected.

Credit Card Notifications for Deliveries

If you do a lot of shopping online you should contact your credit card companies and let them know of the temporary address. This way a purchase won’t be held up if your provide the retailer with different shipping information.

Weather proofing

If some of your gear is going into storage keep a couple of things in mind. While some storage facilities are climate controlled that doesn’t mean they stay as comfortable as your living quarters. Ask about the temperature control where your stuff will be stored. Also be aware that at times your gear can be sitting in a non-climate controlled truck for a few days between its pickup and storage or on the return trip. If you are in a season of extreme weather this can have a negative impact on your gear. We’ll be storing tech gear we won’t be using at a relatives once the move happens this coming week.

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Those are just a few tips I’ve discovered as I prepare to move temporarily in a hasty situation. If you have others share them with us in comments.

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