You need to be able to identify yourself (and sometimes your physical assets like your home and vehicles) to relief agencies. But because of the sensitive nature of these and other documents, you may want to scan originals to a disc, thumb drive or external hard drive. Depending on your vulnerability to fire or flooding, place the device in a fire resistant document bag or a plastic zip storage bag. Place the bag in your Evacuation Kit and put the kit in a secure location close to the most frequently used door. In the case of an emergency, all you have to do is pick it up on your way out of the house.
CAUTION: If you choose to use one of the storage devices mentioned above, there is no guarantee you’ll have access to a computer to retrieve information the moment you need it. If you choose to place hard copies of these documents in your Notebook to carry with you, exercise extreme caution.
No matter how you decide to access it, secure the following information:
- Driver’s license or other state/government-issued personal identification
- Passport for all family members
- Social Security Card for all family members
- Proof of residence (your deed or lease)
- Complete insurance policy, policy numbers with insurance provider’s emergency and non-emergency contact information
- Credit and/or debit cards with emergency and non-emergency contact information
- Bank account numbers with emergency and non-emergency contact information
- Be sure to keep a list of any automatic withdrawals from your checking account so they can be stopped if your paycheck cannot be deposited on a timely basis
- If you are a small business owner, make a copy of your business license so you can be the first to return after a disaster
The following important documents are a real headache to replace if lost, destroyed, damaged or stolen. We encourage you to maintain copies of this second document group at home and, for safety’s sake, place the originals in a bank safety deposit box. The shear volume of paper alone would prevent you from adding these copies to your Evacuation Kit. For this reason we urge you to scan the originals and save them by one of the previously mentioned methods (disc, thumb drive or external hard drive). This will give you access to the information no matter how far away from home you are and irrespective of your bank’s hours and location.
- Birth and Marriage Certificates
- Stocks, bonds, car titles and other negotiable certificates
- Wills, Living Wills, deeds and recent tax returns
Using a digital camera, take pictures of your home, inside and out. Go from room to room capturing the contents of your home. Open closets, drawers and cupboards to capture as much as possible. Download the information to the hard drive of your computer and to the memory stick with all your other vital information. (Remember, the stick belongs in your Evacuation Kit.)
You now have a pictorial inventory of your personal belongings. Use this information to establish replacement value for filing a loss claim. (You do have replacement value insurance, don’t you?) If you never have a claim you haven’t spent hours itemizing everything you own.
Store family photos on discs, external hard drive, or an off-site backup location
As mentioned earlier, placing copies of confidential documents in your Evacuation Kit or your Personalized Preaction™ Notebook makes you vulnerable to identity theft or worse. You may want to consider using a trustworthy off-site backup location for your computer files.