According to FEMA polls, the number one wish-we’d-done-that item on a disaster survivor’s list is important document backups and personal item safeguarding. Most preppers know all about emergency kits, evacuation routes and meeting places, but very few think to safeguard important documents.
Why Safeguard Important Documents?
Not every disaster is a SHTF experience. Sometimes our day can turn south as quickly as getting in a car accident or a thunderstorm causing flash flooding. In the event of a storm or natural disaster our important documents can easily get displaced, lost or even destroyed. Imagine a tornado hits your home and you lose everything. This could include the small fireproof safe in your closet. Do you have a secondary backup?
A few years ago a friend of ours lost his passport overboard while on a deep sea fishing trip in a foreign country. Fortunately for him, he’d thought to make a copy and leave it with a friend. This friend was able to fax the copy to the embassy so our friend could come home with the rest of his family rather than remain stranded for weeks waiting for a new passport. I share this story to show you that one doesn’t have to experience a major disaster to benefit from having backed up important information.
Important Documents to Safeguard
While personal identification like government issued ID’s, social security cards, passports, and birth certificates seem like no-brainers, here are some others you may not have considered:
- Medical records like last prenatal checkup, immunization records, prescriptions, and emergency medical contact information
- Medical insurance
- Important contacts and address book
- Wills and other legal documents
- Home and vehicle titles and deeds
- Homeowners or renters and car insurance
How to Backup Your Important Documents
Safeguarding your documents doesn’t have to be hard, or expensive. Yes, you can buy a small fireproof safe or rent a safe deposit box. You may even pay for an online service. But, these things aren’t a must.
1. Make physical copies and ask a trusted family member who lives in another area to keep them for you. This way if your town is flooded or otherwise effected, you will have a safe copy.
2. Scan your documents, or take photos of them with your phone. Back them up in a cloud based system. I use Dropbox anyway to back up all of our precious photos and my clients’ information, so I can use that for our documents too. If needed, I can access these documents from any device that connects to the internet. There are other services like Master Lock Vault, Secure Safe, and My Vault which are made specifically for secure online document storage.
3. Keep your originals safe. This is where the safe deposit box or small fireproof safe comes in. Decide how you’d like to organize your important documents (I love Jendi’s notebook idea!) then put it somewhere that is both easily accessible, AND safe.
Notify The Right People
Finally, make sure that you and your partner are not the only ones who know where this information is kept. Your kids should know who has copies. Your extended and out of town family should know as well. This way if something happens to you, someone knows where to start looking. There’s nothing like needing that information and not being able to find it to make an already stressful situation worse.