In the event of a serious emergency when evacuating your home may be necessary, you should have copies of important documents prepared to quickly take with you when you depart your home. This collection may be indispensable to you if you are unable to return to your home for an extended period of time, or if your home is destroyed (i.e. fire). Due to the confidential and sensitive nature of some of these documents, you should not leave them in your vehicle, but you may desire to keep a set in a bank safe deposit box, or with a trusted friend or extended family member. Without these documents, you may find yourself unable to conduct important transactions in the hours and days following a disaster.

Your task: Prepare and secure a back-up set of essential documents.

It is recommended that you make copies of the following documents and have them secured in a manner that allows you to quickly take them with you when evacuating your home:

Essential Documents:

  • Personal government-issued identification.
  • Cash and coins (in the event of a widespread power outage, ATMs and credit card machines may not work).
  • Credit/debit cards.
  • Cell phone.
  • Birth certificate.
  • Marriage certificate.
  • Social Security cards.
  • Passports, Visas.
  • Wills, living wills, powers of attorney.
  • Deeds.
  • Inventory of household items (include pictures of your home, including all rooms, new editions and valuable items).
  • Insurance papers (homeowners, medical, life, auto, etc.).
  • Immunization records.
  • Bank and credit card account numbers.
  • Stocks and bonds.
  • Emergency contact list and phone numbers.
  • Map of the area.
  • Legal custody, visitation, guardianship or adoption papers.

You may also wish to scan and store copies of your documents on portable storage media, such as jump drives or CDs. There are also several websites that allow you to securely store your essential personal documents “in the cloud.” However, you may be unable to produce electronic copies following a disaster, so do not let electronic copies substitute for paper copies.