EMERGENCY DOCUMENT STORAGE
Preparing a few hours now can save you months of stress and frustration following a disaster!
At the time of this article, all of Oregon is under stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19. The information contained in this article is offered as a suggestion on how to spend time productively during social isolation. By taking advantage of the downtime now, we can be better prepared during the next disaster.
Emergency Document Storage: Are you bored and looking for something to do during self-quarantine? This is a great time to review your emergency preparedness and take steps to be prepared during future emergencies. Preparing your personal identification and documents for an emergency situation is a simple, yet very important, task that can usually be taken care of pretty quickly. This makes personal ID and document storage the perfect emergency prep you can do now while under social isolation and quarantine.
When disaster strikes, your primary concern must be with survival. Afterward, your ability to recover from the disaster in a reasonable amount of time may depend on the preparations you make right now. Having your personal identification and personal records easily accessible will help your family recover more quickly.
3 Steps to Prepare Your Finances for Natural Disasters
DOCUMENT STORAGE: PHYSICAL OR DIGITAL
It is pretty simple to store copies of identification and important documents you are likely to need in the event of an emergency. You may store copies physically or digitally. Physical storage includes making paper copies of identification and documents and storing them in a safe location such as inside a waterproof and fireproof safe. Digital storage would include storage on a digital medium such as CDs, DVDs, hard drives, flash drives, etc. For the purpose of our discussion, we will focus on flash drive storage.
I strongly advise against placing your personal documents online anywhere including your personal computer, in the cloud or otherwise stored online. They are simply not safe. Having personal identification and document backups is a great idea, but you must exercise caution so it does not fall into the wrong hands. If you are storing your information digitally, I recommend encryption and password protection, along with secure storage of the device.
Bear in mind that there are pros and cons to each method of storage so you will want to proceed with the safety of the stored documents in mind, as well as considering how to keep your personal information out of the hands of criminals. Each situation is different. I have chosen to store a paper copy of my personal documents in a safe. Actually, I have a smaller waterproof/fireproof safe within a larger fire-resistant safe. I also maintain a second copy on a password-protected flash drive which is stored in a safe location. Trusted members of my family know where these backups are in case something happens to me. Your situation may vary so make adjustments as needed.
FEMA EMERGENCY FINANCIAL FIRST AID KIT
FEMA has prepared an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit to help you determine what steps to take and checklists (fillable and printable) to determine what documents and personal information may be important for your family. This will be a handy reference as you go about determining what records you will need on hand. Remember, these lists are built from real-world experience in disasters of different types. You will probably find items on the list you never would have thought of.
EMERGENCY DOCUMENTS: WHAT TO INCLUDE
What will you include in your personal records? At a minimum, you will want to include your identification including driver’s license, passport, insurance cards, etc. Additionally, you will want to include banking, financial, insurance documents and medical records for easy retrieval. Make sure you include contact information for each entity, as well as your personal emergency contacts. Finally, don’t forget to include important records for your pets. Refer to the FEMA Emergency Financial First Aid Kit for in-depth checklists of information you may wish to store.
Some people go beyond the minimum and may store precious family photos, family history records, etc. Some people create a video inventory of all possessions for insurance purposes. You can do a video walkthrough of your home and entire property. Be sure to capture brand names and serial numbers of each item of value. Describe your possessions while you are recording. Include items of value such as; artwork, jewelry, precious metals, private collections, firearms, etc. It will be helpful to update this video annually or whenever you purchase new items of value.
Store your professional certifications so you can prove your knowledge base in the event of a disaster. Are you EMT certified, a HAM radio operator, law enforcement, medical staff, CERT? Any knowledge-based certifications may need to be verified for you to deploy to help others during a disaster. Having this information readily available will help you help others.