Emergency Preparedness: The Key Documents You Need
When an emergency of natural disaster strikes, it is important to be prepared. This involves having access to important personal financial, insurance, medical and essential household records that can help you start your recovery process.
Step 1: Compile Your Documents
Assemble your important financial documents and contacts. These will primarily fall into four categories:
Financial and Legal Documentation
Step 2: Review Your Documents
Review your insurance policies and financial paperwork to make sure they are accurate and current.
If you are homeowner, ensure that your homeowners insurance coverage is enough to support you in an emergency.
If you are a renter, verify that your renter's insurance is up-to-date.
Step 3: Safeguard Your Documents
Store paper and electronic copies of all files in safe locations.
For paper copies of important documents, store them in a fireproof and water proof box, safe or in a bank safe deposit box. Consider making digital copies so that your essential documents are easily accessible.
For electronic copies of important documents, store them in a password-protected format on a removable flash or external hard drive, stored in your fireproof and water proof box or safe, or with a secure cloud-based service.
Step 4: Update Your Documents
Updates are especially important when you have significant changes in your life, such as marriage, death or birth of a child.
What else can you do to prepare?
Start saving. Create an emergency savings account and keep a small amount of cash on hand in a safe place to help you after a crisis.
If you depend on regular benefits, such as Social Security, consider switching to electronic benefits to protect yourself in case mail service is disrupted.
Stay up-to-date with the emergency plans in your community.
Make a communication plan for your household and be sure to share updated versions with all the members of your family.