Springtime can mean beautiful flowers, blooming trees and warm temperatures. It can also mean severe weather as unstable air creates thunderstorms and tornadoes. There are other disastrous reasons you might need to leave your home quickly, too. As you prepare an emergency kit, consider how you will protect your photos and important documents.
Imagine you only have five minutes to get out of the house in an emergency. Assuming your loved ones and pets are safe, what do you grab to take with you? You should have important papers, cash, and personal treasures in locations that are easy to get to in a hurry.
One way to make this easier is to digitize your most important photos and documents and have a copy stored offsite. Everything from your birth certificate and deed to your house to your grandparents’ wedding photo and pictures from your special trip can be preserved in the cloud or on a hard drive or USB drive in a location away from your home. When you know you’ll be able to access these items, you can concentrate on getting yourself to safety.
It is also a good idea to let someone else know how to get to these documents. Whether you ask them to hold onto your USB drive or give them the password to where the documents are online, a backup person is part of your disaster plan. There are many emergency reasons besides volatile weather that make having a trusted friend or relative know where to find your information so important.
What information do you need to have protected offsite? Consider the following as a starting checklist:
- List of bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts
- Proof of insurance policies (health, home, auto)
- Passports, drivers licenses, social security cards (ID in any legal form)
- Birth and marriage certificates, military discharge papers
- List of medications and contact numbers for pharmacies you use
- Proof of major purchases (home, car, etc.)
- Power of attorney/living will documents and attorney contact info
- Most important photos (historical and current)
- Household inventory list – with photos
A photo organizer may be able to help you scan and protect your important documents as well as your photos. It’s worth the time and investment now to ease the worry in case a disaster occurs later.