Disaster Prep 101: Save Your Personal Documents Now

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Disaster Prep 101: Save Your Personal Documents Now

Imagine a hurricane flooding your home, or a fire burning your walls, and you, scrambling to collect your passport, your Social Security card and your family albums before evacuating your home.

When disaster strikes, you have merely moments to evacuate.

And finding yourself with “no time” to collect these important items is a position you never want to find yourself in.

In this post, we show you which documents you need to protect and the best methods for keeping them secure.

Documents You Want To Keep Safe

Personal

  • Birth Certificates

  • Marriage Certificate

  • Passports

  • Social Security Cards

  • Driver’s Licenses

  • Diplomas

  • Military Documents

  • Divorce Certificate

  • Adoption Papers

  • Child Custody Papers

  • Pet Ownership Papers / ID Tags

  • Will

Home & Property

  • Home Deed

  • Mortgage Statement

  • Rental Agreement

  • Car Title

  • Car Registration

  • Insurance Policies

  • Appraisal Documents for Valuable Items

  • Estate Planning Paperwork

Medical

  • Health/Dental Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid Cards

  • Prescription Records

  • Contact Information of Your Doctors

Financial

  • Tax Records

  • Credit Card, Checking & Savings Account Numbers

  • Stock & Bond Certificates

  • Investment Records

  • IRA or 401(k) Account Numbers

  • Important Receipts

How To Keep These Documents Secure

Make Copies

Make sure you have both physical and digital copies of your vital documents. Make a photocopy of each document and store by one of the methods below. Digital copies can easily be stored on flash drives for safe, compact keeping.

Use A Safe Deposit Box

A safe deposit box is ideal for storing original documents that you don’t need access to in a hurry; as you can only access your safe deposit box when the bank or credit union where it’s located is open.

Good things to put in a safe deposit box include birth certificates, property deeds, car titles, family keepsakes, photographs and digital copies (flash drives).

Use A Home Safe

Store your original documents that you aren’t placing in a safe deposit box – for instance, passports, power of attorneys, your will – in a safe at home that is fireproof, waterproof and has a secure locking mechanism.

Use A Paper Shredder

You can’t prepare for disaster without preparing to keep yourself safe from identity thieves. Therefore, make sure you shred any documents you don’t need. For example, old bank statements, credit card offers, tax documents you no longer need to keep or any paperwork that contains personal information.

Final Tips

  • Know what you have in your home. Take photos or video (video is good because you can narrate) of your belongings as proof of ownership. This will help if your possessions are lost or damaged and you need to make an insurance claim.

  • Know what your homeowner’s insurance covers. Additional insurance might be needed for flood or earthquakes.

  • Consider keeping copies of documents with a trusted relative or friend. Just another means of having a safe location for your important documents.

You know how the saying goes: Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

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