This is probably the most difficult of the kits modules to complete. It takes time and effort to track everything down. Hopefully, most of us keep our most important documents, such as social security cards, passports, vehicle titles, birth certificates, etc. in a safe place. But beyond this, many people might have a difficult time finding the rest of their documents. But following a major event or disaster, all of these documents are could be necessary to reconstruct your life.
Without prior preparation, instant access to all of your important documents could prove very difficult following an event that results in you being displaced out of your home. Putting your life back together after such an event could take weeks or even months. During my research for this portion of this module, I read several articles from people that went through Hurricane Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, and most recently Florence in North Carolina, and used what they have said regarding documents.
The Documents kit or “Docs Kit” is comprised of two parts. The first part, and most likely the most difficult, is compiling and copying all these documents. Look over all the items I’ve listed below and decide which items you want to include in your own Docs Kit. I recommend including as many as you can, but maybe just start with the basics and build as you go. Once this is all compiled and copied, you want to store this in a safe but accessible place. I recommend putting all these copies in a waterproof container and storing them in a safe, if you have one. This is also where your emergency cash will be. In the event of an emergency, this is one item you want to grab on your way out. The second part is optional, but I highly recommend it. Once copied, scan everything and create 2 digital copies; one on an encrypted thumb drive that will reside in your 72-hour kit (incase you can’t make it to your safe to grab the physical copies), and a second copy either uploaded to the cloud, or if you are uneasy about that, create a second thumb drive and give it to a trusted friend or family member to store it for you (a location outside of your own home). The idea here is that if your house is destroyed, you will still be able to access this crucial information.
Recommended items to include in your Docs Kit:
Cash (Don’t always count on Credit Cards and checks)
$200 cash minimum in small bills
Lots of 1’s, 5’s and 10’s (change is often not given back)
Minimum of $10 in coins (a $10 roll of quarters works well)
Include contact info for a few people (this was already done for the home manual-just make of copy of that contact page)
Include a couple people that live out of town. In an emergency when the local phone lines are jammed, it is common that your call can get out, but not back in (to a local contact). So by including someone that is out of town, you only have to worry about getting a call to leave the area, and not contend with trying to get back into the same jammed up area.
Identification documents (copies)
Other work/government/ ID’s as necessary
Current individual photos of family members (for ID purposes- Has anyone seen this person?)
Insurance information (copies)
Contact info and a copy of policies (or at least policy numbers) for:
Bank contact info
Checking/Savings account numbers
Copy of CC’s (front and back)
Phone numbers to cancel CC’s
A few extra checks (in case it is not a local disaster)
Vehicle info (Cars, boats, motorcycles, RV’s, etc.)
Photos of vehicles with License plates visible
Record Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN’s)
Copy of vehicle registrations and titles
Mortgage Documents (copies)
Medical Documents (copies)
Brief medical history
Include blood type
Web accounts and passwords (Depending on how you feel about this. If used, be very careful about how you secure this. Recommend a good safe.)
Inventory personal belongings in your home
A great way to do this is take a video tour of every room throughout your entire house to show proof of items. This actually doesn’t take very long. Then just save the video file on a thumb drive and/or to the cloud (best option).
Pictures of pets (for later identification or search purposes)
Misc documents (copies)
Diplomas and transcripts
Power of attorney
Stocks, bonds and other securities
Wills and living trusts
Retirement/Social Security statements
Utilities contact info and account numbers
Firearm serial numbers
Tip: Photocopy the contents of everything in your wallet or purse. So if you lose it, you will know exactly what was in there and can start to cancel/replace these items.