If you live where natural disasters are common, would you be prepared to leave your home if you needed to evacuate? Not only should you have essentials (such as bottled water, snacks, flashlights and batteries), but you should also have copies of important documents when evacuating. You’ll find tips below on basic items to keep ready and all the documents you should have handy if a disaster strikes. We suggest having an evacuation bag or box ready to go that you can grab quickly if you need to evacuate.
In addition to packing your supplies, you’ll want to have an evacuation plan in place. The Department of Homeland Security’s Ready √ resource provides guidelines for writing an evacuation plan.
Emergency Evacuation Kit
Having an emergency evacuation kit ready to go can save precious time when it matters most. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests you include the following:
- Bottled water
- Flashlight(s) and extra batteries
- Phone and phone charger
- First aid kit
- Important documents
If you have additional room, irreplaceable family heirlooms and photos might be on your packing list as well, but when time is of the essence, your safety is most important. Cash can keep you moving when you might not be able to pay for things with your debit/credit card due to power outages. And, it means you won’t be in a long line trying to get cash before you evacuate if you plan ahead and have some on hand. You should also have any important keys with you, including those to safety deposit boxes, safes and vehicles.
When it comes to important documents, we suggest having a paper copy in your kit as well as having an electronic copy saved in a secure cloud service. Having both will ensure you have the documents you’ll need, no matter what happens or where you are. FEMA provides an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit guide to help you determine what documents and contact information you may need handy in the time of a disaster.
Insurance and Home Documents
You’ll want copies of your home insurance policy and contact information for your insurance company and agent. Do an inventory with photos at the beginning of the season to help, should you need to file a claim.
Personal Identification Documents
You’ll want to include copies of every family member’s ID, passport, Social Security card and birth certificate. You should also include your marriage license, life insurance policies and health insurance policies in this section of documents. Include a will or other legal documents if you have them.
Don’t forget to have copies of the titles to your vehicles and deed/mortgage (renters should have a copy of their lease) documents in your file. You’ll also want a list of financial institutions where you currently have accounts. You may want to include a list of account numbers in a secured electronic file as well.
Having all these documents saved in a secured cloud storage will allow you to get to them from anywhere if something should happen to your paper copies. We still recommend having both, because you may not have access to power and internet immediately. Downloading your financial institution’s app on your phone will allow for easy access while evacuated. If you haven’t yet, here are the instructions to download the Navy Federal Credit Union app on your phone. When you have your emergency evacuation kit and important documents ready, you can continue to prepare by discussing your plans with the family and making an emergency contact list.