In our busy lives, with all the important things we treasure or might need in case of a natural disaster, we should have a checklist we consistently review. In a previous post I wrote about Medical and Natural Disaster Preparation. The importance of completing your medical To Do list and kit was discussed. While prescriptions and medications are high on the list, there is a larger lineup of items you need to keep in check:
- Vital records and documents, such as birth or death certificates, drivers’ licenses, and passports
- Housing or rental information
- Vehicle registrations and associated paperwork
- Financial and insurance information, including income and tax records
- Records for your pets, including recent photographs
Some things are irreplaceable. The value of our most important documents and keepsakes goes far beyond money. I encourage you to review the more complete list of things to do, below, and to click the link to the FEMA web page included. In addition, please consider renting a safe deposit box or purchasing a fire- and waterproof ‘safe box’ in which to store valuable documents and objects.
By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau
What happens if you have to prove ownership of your house or car or the relationship status of your household’s members? Be prepared with the right paperwork.
FEMA offers a checklist of the documents to protect and have on hand in a crisis. They are:
- Vital records (birth, marriage, divorce certificate, adoption, child custody papers)
- Passport, driver’s license
- Social Security card, green card, military service identification,
- Housing: lease or rental agreement, mortgage, home equity line of credit, deed
- Vehicle loan documents, VIN, registration, title
- Utility bills, credit cards, student loans, alimony, child support, elder care, automatic payments such as gym memberships
- Financial accounts, including checking, savings, debit cards, retirement, investment
- Insurance policies, including homeowners, renters, auto, life, flood, appraisals, photos, and lists of valuable items
- Income source like pay stubs, government benefits, alimony, and child support
- Tax statements, including federal/state income tax returns, property tax, vehicle tax
- Estate planning –will, trust, and power of attorney
- Pet records, including copies of vet records, rabies certificate, vaccinations, prescriptions, and a recent photograph of your pet.
Tip: Consider storing electronic copies of important documents in a password-protected format on a removable flash or external hard drive in your fireproof and waterproof box or safe. Another option is using a secure cloud-based service.