Typically in emergency or disaster situations, people are quick to gather their family members and pets to escape to safety. It is also common to have food and water kits available and easily accessed in these times. This is all well and good, but it’s also very important to remember to grab certain documents too. Below you’ll find information about what documents and information you should keep together so you can bring it along in the case of an emergency or evacuation.
Types of Documents
Legal: Legal documents would include any wills and trusts. Also, any of your health or financial power of attorney and any mortgage/loan papers.
Financial: Financial documents include a list of bank account numbers, insurance policies, safety deposit box information, and the previous year’s tax return.
Personal: Personal documents are social security cards, birth certificates, marriage certificate and/or divorce declaration, and a copy of your passports.
Insurance: Insurance documents include your automobile, life, health, and home/renters insurance information.
What to do? – Now that you have gathered all of these documents, ideally you’ll want to make electronic/digital copies. You can keep them stored in the cloud so they can be accessed from anywhere. Another idea would be to keep them all backed up on an external hard drive that you keep in an easy to grab place or even at another location. It’s also good to keep hard copies in a large envelope or file box that can easily be grabbed and taken with you when/if needed (some documents like your passport, social security card, or estate plan need original copies). Be sure to keep them organized and in order so that you can quickly find the document you need. It is important to keep the envelope/file box in a safe place, remember where you keep it, and notify your family members (and even a close friend) where it is in case you are not at home.
Finally, create an information document in case of emergency as well that you can give to two people you trust that includes where to find all of your gathered information in case you cannot get to it yourself. This document should include where to find your documents, your medication list, where to find passwords to your accounts, and where your pet supplies are.