One of most overlooked parts of putting together a survival kit is collecting and including important documents. It is clear that you can survive only so long without food and water but getting back to normal after a natural disaster also involves having critical documents at your disposal. This way you can avoid the long and frustrating process of replacing them in the event they are destroyed.
What Documents Should I Include in My Emergency Kit?
Planning and preparing for an emergency should entail gathering essential documents. Which ones you want to include in your kit is largely up to you. However, there are some records that should be required for everyone including:
- Insurance policies – life, house, car, and property plus policy numbers and the contact information of your agent or broker
- Property deeds
- Vehicle titles
- Copies of social security cards and driver’s licenses
- Birth and marriage certificates
- Passports or copies of passports
- Bank account numbers and company phone numbers
- Credit card numbers and company phone numbers
- Stocks and bonds
- Health insurance cards and prescriptions
- Immunization records
- Tax returns (both federal and state) for the past three years
- Wills and estate plans
Moreover, you should consider gathering a list of the names and contact information of important individuals so you can get a hold of them. They may be family members, friends, doctors, lawyers, accountants, and so forth. It might come in handy to include family photos as well as the description of pets, vet information, and their medical histories. It is recommended that your emergency kit also include cash, at least $100 or whatever would aid you and your family for a few days.
It never hurts to also take an inventory of your home collecting the description, serial numbers, dates of purchase, model numbers, and value of items. This will go a long way towards helping you reclaim payment for losses from insurance companies.
You might want to sit down with your family and make a list of items that you will take with you in case you need to evacuate your home without much notice. These could include family heirlooms or special things that you consider irreplaceable.
How Should I Store my Documents?
Original documents should be kept in a safety deposit box and the keys placed in your emergency kit. You can also invest in a portable fireproof box although these are not the most reliable. Another option is to scan your documents so that they are in electronic format. The problem with this selection is figuring out how to secure the documents yet access them when needed. This might involve setting up password protected files on a laptop you can easily grab.
Whatever you do with the originals, make copies of them and insert the printouts into a sealed, waterproof pouch for safe keeping in your emergency kit. It is strongly suggested to update your emergency kit, important documents, and home inventory every six months at least.