Part of being prepared for emergency situations is having everything ready to put your life back together, should something happen. You have insurance, food, water, and financial savings. However, to rebuild your life once the emergency is over, you need to have other measures in place.
A collection of important documents is one of the most important parts of your emergency preparedness plan. These documents need to be compiled together in a binder or portable file system and kept in a safe place, preferably locked in a safe that is inaccessible to the outside world. You and 1-2 trusted individuals should be the only people who can access them. (If you don't have somebody you trust, put the information in your will or trust, held by your attorney.) These documents should also be in at least 2 places- your personal safe and inside a bank vault or other trusted institution. Wherever you store these, make sure you can access them in an emergency.
Emergency Contact Info
In case of emergency you and your family need to know the following phone numbers with account information:
-Extended family phone and addresses - People out of the area of your emergency can be especially helpful.
-School/child care information
-Insurance affiliated doctors, dentists, and hospitals. In some emergencies you don't have options for in-network health care. If you do, it will help save you time and money in the future.
-Work, client, etc. numbers
-Utility companies (electricity, water, gas, phone)- Have account numbers available for easy access
Vital documents are important to have on hand for identity issues. However, this information is very sensitive. Remember to store these in a VERY secure place. Copies of the following documents will be helpful:
- Drivers licenses
- Social Security number (You may want to encrypt these somehow)
- Birth Certificates
- Passports- Some airports don't recognize drivers licences as official IDs.
- Power of Attorney for you and for members of your family (Information HERE)
- Title/Deed/Mortgage information
- Copies of wills, trusts, etc. You can do basic online versions, or have an attorney fill one out for you. The benefit of having an attorney is he/she keeps the records as well.
- Car titles/insurance information
- Other legal documents (naturalization, adoption, etc.)
- Rental/lease agreements
- Spouse death certificate (needed to verify name changes)
- Wedding licenses (needed to verify name changes)
- Home insurance
- Life insurance
- Renter's insurance
- Car insurance
- Health Insurance
- Inventory of possessions in home with pictures (Give one copy to your insurance agent)
You and your family should have a written out emergency plan with phone numbers, addresses, safe places, etc. Also, consider:
- Planned escape routes in and out of your city/town.
- Have a hard copy of your phone tree of family/friends
- Cash - Have cash in small bills in your binder/folder (you can't count on anybody being able to break a $100 in an event of no power)
- Maps- Don't depend on phone maps to take you where you need to go. Have a local, state, and country map in your binder so you know the best routes to safety.
Your goal after any emergency is to get your life back on track as soon as you can. Having the proper papers and documents readily available to you will help you with your preparedness goals.
Are there any other documents you feel are important to keep with you?