In light of the wildfires and unusually strong storms sweeping the country, many areas are being evacuated on short notice. You can run around grabbing things at the last minute, or you can get your important documents ready now in case of an evacuation.
As you look over this list, remember that the most important thing to take care of in an emergency evacuation is yourself and your family. All of these documents will make life easier for you after you’ve evacuated, but if it’s you or the paperwork, don’t go back for the papers!
As you prepare to evacuate, you’ll want to gather up all the personal identification documents for your family. Passports and driver’s licenses should be first on the list, while children’s school ID cards should also be included. These pieces of photo ID will be the first thing asked for if you try to go to a shelter or claim aid later.
You will also want to include a (reasonably) current photo of every family member. The photo doesn’t have to be a full profile shot, but it needs to have a clear facial image. If anyone is separated from the group, you’ll have a good image to share to help in location efforts.
For health documentation, you don’t need a copy of every insurance bill you’ve ever paid. Instead, pull together copies of your family’s prescriptions for medications and glasses or contacts. Include your health insurance card, pharmacy access card, and any other health membership cards you may need for yourself, your family, your pets, and anyone you are the designated caregiver for at the time of the evacuation.
Along with the information about your medications and medical conditions, include a list of your doctors, preferred hospitals, and any health directives (such as organ donor or do-not-resuscitate orders) you may have.
Your financial records are for your family as well as for you, so be clear on what’s in there. Include account numbers for bank and investment accounts, stock certificates, credit card information, and any debt documentation you might need to collect from others.
The deed to your house, title for your car, and copies of your insurance information should also go in your evacuation kit. These will help you reclaim what’s yours later and get in touch quickly with the relevant insurance agents in the event of a loss. Finally, though not strictly a document, having your safe deposit box keys in your evacuation kit will save you time and money as you retrieve valuables later.
Your personal records include social security cards, original birth certificates for all family members, marriage certificate, divorce certificate, and any relevant adoption paperwork. Optional on top of these essentials would be a copy of any family wills and a few treasured family photographs. Emergency back ups of your computer hard drives in CD, external drive, or thumb drive form are not strictly documents, but they are much easier to evacuate than your computer!
A hard copy emergency contact list can be invaluable in an evacuation. Include information for all of your family members first. Next, include the contact information for your insurance agent, doctors, and bank/credit card accounts. The office, friends, and neighbors should also be on the list.
When you have everything all together, take one extra precaution and scan everything in your evacuation packet. Save it to a secure cloud-based server. In the event you can’t leave with your kit, you’ll at least have one copy you can access from anywhere as a backup to help you rebuild.