Disaster can strike at any moment, on short notice, or without any notice at all. So having a disaster preparedness kit will ensure your family is well protected when it hits. While some elements of a disaster prep kit might be common sense—like canned food, medical supplies or batteries— others aren’t, and are just as important.
We’re talking about your family’s medical information, copies of identification, birth certificates, passports, last wills, and much, much more. We also want to help you answer the question about where to store all of these documents.
If your family suddenly has to leave your home, and you only have time to take your disaster kit and run, you should make sure it has the proper documents to keep you on track.
Do you have the right documents in case disaster strikes?
- Birth certificates – It’s good that you have copies, but you still need to keep the original one safe in a preparedness kit. It’s absolutely essential if you need to prove your citizenship.
- Marriage and Divorce papers – You don’t want to be single or married by accident! These papers are essential as well. These will prove your marital status and could be important in the future.
- Adoption papers – This is important if either you or your child are adopted. Just as important as a birth certificate.
- Passports, Driver’s Licenses, and Social Security cards – For every one of these documents that any member in your immediate family has, make a copy! These will be a starting point for replacing these critical forms of identification if they are lost in a tragedy. If your area is devastated in a natural disaster, getting a new one takes time and may not be straightforward. Keep duplicates of the cards for all members of your family.
- Pet microchip numbers – If your pets are microchipped, have a copy of the microchip tag number.
- Photos of family and pets – Although you might think this isn’t necessary with today’s technology of having photos in your phone, during emergencies you’ll find it’s hard or almost impossible to keep your devices charged and functioning. So make sure you have printed photos of your family and pets around in case you need to look for any of them.
- Information about bills and obligations – You should make a copy of mortgages, utility bills, and loans that you need to pay every month. This is to ensure that you can still access your account or the contact information to keep up with your payments.
- Tax information – Should you need to prove your income, make a copy of last year’s tax return. You can also make a copy of your personal and business property tax statements. If you want to get a new loan or apply for assistance, you will need these documents.
- Income verification – Another way to provide proof of income, and it’s a more updated one compared to your tax information. Your pay stubs can help you get loans as well.
- Insurance information – Probably the most important documents to keep around, or at least the basic information about them. Every insurance policy you have, whether it is auto, life, homeowners, or health insurance, it should be always at your disposal during an emergency.
- Financial account numbers – To have access to your account numbers, you should have copies of records from all bank or credit union accounts. You need to make certain that you have copies of a credit or debit card statement with the same information.
- Citizenship or Naturalization documents – If you were born outside of the United States, make sure you get proof of your naturalization or citizenship papers.
- Last Will – If you’ve crafted one, you need put a copy of it into your kit. If you have not created one, consider doing so quickly. This method is the bare minimum you need to have for a solid end-of-life plan.
- Power of Attorney – With the help of a power of attorney document, it will present someone with the capacity to act on your behalf for legal or financial concerns if you are not able to do so.
- Titles and Deeds to a property you own – From the car to your home, have copies of your claims and place them in your kit. Make sure these are authentic copies (not photocopies) from the appropriate government entity so that you can have authorized proof of ownership.
- Allergy information – If anyone has severe allergies in your family, you must have a copy of this information in your kit.
- Medications list – If a member in your family takes medications on a regular basis, list them, their doses, the name of the doctor who prescribed them, and put this in your kit. Don’t forget to register medications for pets as well.
- Immunization records – Should you evacuate, keeping the immunization records of your children and pets in this kit will give them knowledge on what they are protected against.
- Crucial medical records – You should include any information about severe diagnoses or procedures you have had done in the past.
How to keep important documents safe:
Having more than one place for your important documents is an excellent backup plan when it comes to disasters. Keep paper copies as well as computer hard drive disks in different areas to guarantee you have the best chance of seizing the information in a hurry. You should also consider storing some of these documents in an off-site location, like a security deposit box.
You should invest in a metal safe that is both waterproof and fireproof to store these documents. This is the best way to store paper documents. Or you can put all of the papers into a binder that you can clutch in a rush, and keep it in a secure place. You can then store them near your kit. With these documents near your other disaster prep supplies, you’ll never forget about them when a disaster strikes.
When you prepare for a disaster, it is a wise choice to include these critical documents. You have no way of knowing when a potential disaster will hit, and having the supplies ready will keep your family safe, financially secure, and stable during the difficult days ahead. You can also hire a professional house cleaning service to help you always keep your home organized, neat and clean.