Friday, September 28, 2007

Go Bag: Documents Kit

Your Go Bag needs lots of little subkits. One of the least obvious but possibly most important is the Documents Kit.
Lots of list will say to take copies of your "important" documents but never call out what they are.

These are all Important documents and having copies on hand will make rebuilding your life after a major disaster much, much easier. You may need these documents to file insurance claims, pay bills, help injured family members get proper care, or even manage the affairs of a death.

What Documents You Need
• Birth certificate: The big one. If you have to replace a Drivers License or Social Security card you need not a noterized copy of an offical original copy, which they only limit you to 7 of now. This needs special care. You may not want a copy in you Go Bag but rather in a remote location. A locked box in an energency bag at a family members house or in a safety deposit box, but remember the Hurricane Katrina destroyed whole cities so it should be quite a ways away from your home.

• Drivers License: You should have this on your person all the time so should not be a problem to have handy.

• Deeds, Mortgages, or Rental Agreements: To show where you live and what you own.

• Insurance policies (life, health, disability, long-term care, auto, homeowners, renters)

• Medical records, including prescription information: Very important if you need medicines to survive.

• Marriage certificate

• Licenses, recommends and certificates related to things you can do. For example, commercial driver, medical, legal or amateur radio licenses.

• Will

• Power of attorney

• Living will or other medical powers

• Trust documents

• Social Security card/records

• Military records

• Checking and savings account statements

• Retirement account records

• Other investment statements

• Pay stubs

• Tax returns

• Car titles and registrations

• Warranties and receipts for major purchases

• Credit card records

• Other loan records

• Safe deposit box information (location and key)

• Copies of your utility bills: mainly you are looking for the company contact information (address, phone number & website) and your account number so you can make arraignments while things recover.

• Copies of pictures or documents of semtimental or family value, such as journals and diaries.

• A video or pictures of all your stuff for insurance purposes. Just lay a drawer full of stuff on your bed and take a picture of it.

How to Store Your Important Documents

This is the interesting part. On the one hand you want it to be pretty easy to get to during an emergency, but you don't want it to be too easy for a burglar to take if they break in. If you are storing them at home or a family members house make sure that it is also in a media safe fire box so it can survive a fire.

In many cases the most important part of the documents you really want are the contact information to the companies you're doing business with. You want to be able to call the electric company to tell them your homes been destroyed and you need to turn off the power and make that last payment on the account. You'll need the account number and the number you should call.

You can scan these things onto you computer too. If you don't have scanner a digital camera will work fine if instead of using the flash put it on the desk with some lamps on both sides. The flash will overexpose the center of the document making it unreadable.

You can copy all of that onto a piece of paper or a word processing document and keep it in your wallet as well. or on a keychain flash drive or on your iPod, password protecting the electronic documents would be a good idea. You could even make them contacts on you mobile phone, but you might want to make them less obvious so if you lost your phone it is hard to steal that information.

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