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Documents Needed in an Emergency

Following is a very good article we found in the Ready Store.

SONY DSCHaving documentation during an emergency can be very helpful and sometimes essential! There are certain identification, insurance and personal documents that you’ll wish you had during an emergency. Here are a few things to consider while collecting your important papers.

How to store
It’s pretty easy to digitize your records to fit them all onto a hard drive or flash drive. If you choose not to go this route, you can always keep copies of these documents in a water-proof folder. You might consider creating a master list (or Excel spreadsheet) to track all of your documents.
There is a great tutorial by Lifehacker on how to do this. However you store your documents, you’ll want to make sure that they are housed in a weather-resistant container of some sort.

Where to store
During an emergency, you’ll want to know where this information is. We recommend that you put this information in a 72-hour kit. By placing this information on one of the exterior pockets, it will be easy to access if you need to get to it quickly. You can also make copies to be placed in your emergency supplies at home.


Identification papers
Copies of documents like your passport, driver’s license, social security card, birth certificates, and others are important to include in your emergency kit.

Insurance papers
If a natural disaster struck, how would you get in contact with your insurance company? It’s a good idea to have contact information for your insurance company and bank. You should include account numbers.

Be sure to include photos, descriptions and other documentation about the items in your home. Some families have even taken video tours of their home to show proof of them owning certain items in their home. You could also include copies of house or property ownership if that becomes disputed.

Personal documents
While preparation might not protect certain family heirlooms, you can also take precautions against loosing certain family valuables like marriage certificates, treasured photos, family history records or old family keepsakes.
Some families have completely digitized their records to fit on a single flash drive or hard drive.

Medical documents
Making copies of vital medical records is a great thing to include in emergency plans. These could include allergies, prescriptions that you are on, immunizations, medical conditions, etc.

Contact information
You should have the names and phone numbers of a few vital contacts – a family relative that lives out of state, your insurance contact, etc. You can also include information on who people should contact if you or your pack is found.

Following is a list of some of the documents that you should consider:


  • Household and place of business inventory (recorded using photographs, videotape, or stored on a database manager computer program)
  • Duplicates of insurance policies (life, health, auto, home, hazard, etc.)
  • Mortgage documents
  • Real estate deeds
  • Title papers
  • Motor vehicle titles and bill of sale, serial or VIN numbers
  • Wills and trusts
  • Safe deposit box: location, number, inventory of contents, location of key, authorized persons to access box
  • Investment portfolio
  • Stocks, bonds and other securities
  • Bank, checking, savings account numbers or certificates Credit card accounts (company and account numbers


  • Family health and medical records
  • Employee benefits information
  • Letter of instruction in case of death
  • Funeral and burial plans
  • Name, address, phone number of attorney, financial advisor and insurance agents
  • Photocopy of documents carried in wallet or purse


  • Birth, marriage, and death certificates
  • Adoption and custody decrees
  • Citizenship papers
  • Military papers
  • Passports, visas
  • Social security card (or card numbers)
  • Employment records


  • Family photos, videotapes, etc.
  • Important books
  • Personal family history
  • Family genealogy records

There are numerous lists and many other ideas to be found on the internet. After going through this list you can probably think of a few other records that are important to you and that you should keep in a safe place. There are also lots of different ideas out there on how to keep your records in a safe place and accessible at a moments notice.


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