Have you gathered your critical documents together? I applaud you if you have done this already. We may have some new readers who haven’t thought about doing this. You may have the binder and the dividers but you haven’t had the time to put it together. As unfortunate as it may be, most natural disasters and emergencies tend to show up unexpectedly, or at the least, with very little notice. I have a link at the bottom of this post for my FREE emergency binder contents.
That’s why it’s so critical for your family to be prepared for these situations far ahead of time, especially if tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes play a factor in your area. You may have already taken the time to gather enough food, water, and supplies so that you’re ready for any one of these scenarios, but you’re probably still forgetting something.
I know people who have “scanned pictures” and “important documents” on a flash drive, I get it, I really do. But please think outside the box for a minute or two. What if we lose our power grids and the related loss of power at your home or office, can you still access those files? You may think, I have a generator. Okay, but what happens when you can no longer get gas for the unit? Wait, I have a solar unit, okay, that would work to power up the computer. We just need more than one way to get those documents, my friends. Please have a hard copy.
List of Critical Documents You Need for Emergencies
What many preppers fail to think about are the important documents that they would need if they were ever forced to evacuate their homes. Should there only be enough time left for you to pick up your disaster kit and throw it in the car, you’d also want to make sure that all of your documents were somewhere included. Most of these documents are in fact replaceable but keep in mind that your time would be at the mercy of some of the issuing agencies. Here’s a list of critical documents you need for emergencies.
Your Family’s Identification Documents
Should your family ever be forced to leave your home you might need each of your family member’s identification documents so that you could reside somewhere else for the time being. If the disaster was bad enough, you would especially need these documents in order to flee the country:
- Social security cards – Even a copy of your SS cards would be better than nothing.
- The birth certificates – That way you can prove who you are and that you are a citizen.
- Adoption papers – So you are able to prove that the child is part of your family.
- Marriage or divorce papers – Proves the marital status of those in the household.
- Passports – Make copies of each of your family member’s passports.
- Driver’s license – Keep a copy of it set aside.
- Copy of all vaccinations, if applicable.
- A recent picture of your family and pets – In case one of them is missing, rescue crews would know who they are looking for. If you have three pictures, you can attach one to the “Rescue or Missing Boards” and keep others in your binder.
- UPDATE: Please take at least (3 pictures) of your home on the outside, and take pictures of every single room inside your house. Take pictures of your garage, or shed and include pictures of everything in your binder. Be sure and take pictures of your valuables if you feel it is necessary. Please picture this, if you return to your home after an unforeseen disaster, you will be glad you have these pictures.
Your world may have recently been turned upside down, but that may not be as of much concern to your student loan company as you think it should be. You would still be required to keep up with your monthly bills and other obligations. In order to make things go smoothly, you would appreciate having your financial documents that have all of your bank accounts, credit cards, and contact information. That way you can reach out to the right personnel and keep up with your payments following an emergency.
- Bank account numbers – So that you can still have access to your money in your bank account.
- Tax information – Copy of the previous year’s tax return.
- Insurance documents – Car, home, health, and life insurance copies.
- Income verification – There may be a situation where you need to verify your income.
- Bills information (mortgages, loans, utility bills)
Keep in mind that if the disaster that you are dealing with is serious enough, there’s a pretty good chance that your regular doctor won’t be the one who will be providing you with care. That’s why it’s so important that you have the following documents so that these professionals can give any of your family members the right care that they need.
- Insurance information – Medical insurance and copies of your policy numbers.
- Important medical information – Including past procedures and serious diagnoses.
- Immunization records – This will provide emergency professionals with the information needed regarding what your children are protected from and whether they need an additional booster.
- Medicines list -Current list of medicines and dosage that each family member is taking.
- Allergy information – This is for those who have serious allergies that medical personnel need to know about.
- Pet medicine list – Don’t forget about your pets, they may need attention too.
Having to start over would already be bad enough, but if you failed to have the following documents, you would also have to start over with end-of-life planning. Here are some of the legal documents that you should make a copy of:
- Power of attorney – A power of attorney authorizes someone to act on behalf of someone else who is not able to do so, including their legal and financial matters.
- Titles and deeds of your property – These need to be actual copies and not photocopies.
- Will or living will – If you don’t have a will, you should consider writing one and keeping a copy with your other important documents.
- Citizenship papers – Those who are not born in the United States will want to have a copy of their citizenship papers somewhere with their emergency kit.
- Trust documents – This is only for those that have a trust set up.
After a disaster has destroyed your home and all of your belongings along with it, you will want to have proof of them so that you can have them replaced or rebuilt afterward.
- An inventory of the valuables in your home – a list of valuable items and their description (brand, model, serial numbers, etc.). Even pictures would be helpful.
- Real estate documents – Mortgage notes, a chain of title documents, and certified copies of your home’s deed.
- Vehicle paperwork – VIN numbers, copy of your title. You may also want to include registration and insurance documents.
Proper Way to Store Your Documents
Now that you know which documents you will need, it’s time to think about how to store them properly. To keep your critical documents safe I would strongly encourage you to invest in a metal safe that is both waterproof and fireproof. It’s best that it’s small so that you are able to transport it fairly easily if you need to get it out of the house. Another option, if you could afford it, would be to keep everything tucked away at another location in a safe deposit box like they often offer at your bank branch.
Note: I closed my safety deposit box because I thought to myself, well if we have our power grids go down for weeks, months, or years, the banks will be closed indefinitely, or at least the vault. Please remember we have to think about every scenario if we lose power.
In case you missed this post on my FREE Binder content, How To Compile My FREE Emergency Binder
- Zippered Binder
- Colored Divider Tabs
- Zippered Binder Pockets
- Horizontal Photo Pages
- Binder Pockets
- Sheet Protectors
Making sure you have all of these critical documents with you after an emergency has happened may not bring back what you’ve lost, but doing so will help your family recover more quickly than most. Can you think of any other documents that would be important to have with you following an emergency? May God Bless this world, Linda.