Paperwork, pesky but important – NPM Tip of the Day

We often talk about the importance of having a “Disaster Preparedness Kit” — filled with food, water, batteries and other items needed immediately after a disaster — but today we wanted to focus on the less-thought of items in your kit: paperwork.

Now, we know you’re probably thinking, “Why in the world should I worry about paperwork in the midst of a hurricane/fire/flood? Don’t I have more important things to worry about?”

Yes….and no.

While certainly the basic supplies like food and water are of primary concern during a disaster (and we definitely want you to have them), we also want to empower people after a disaster too. And making sure your information is organized can be one of the first steps on the road to recovery. And as part of our mission to “prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies” the Red Cross works to make sure everyone comes back stronger following the unexpected.

It goes without saying that disasters can be a stressful event, but having your documents and contact information organized and ready to go can bring such a peace of mind, whether you need to evacuate or evaluate any damage you might have.

  • Cash is king. This is particularly the case during a disaster. Have some extra cash ready since ATMs and banks may not be accessible and credit card systems at gas stations and stores may be down. To determine how much money to set aside, estimate how much your family would need for three days if you could not return home, the power remained out or if you were unable to get cash from an ATM or bank.
  • Paperwork is key to recovery. In addition to having a list of medications and medical information, keep copies of these personal documents in your “Financial Go-Kit”. Some examples of items to include: Proof of address, Deed/lease to home, Insurance policies, IDs and passports, Birth certificates, Social Security card, Marriage license, Legal papers.

    Keep these copies updated, organized (keeping them in a 3-ring binder works well) and in a secure location that you can easily access in case you need to evacuate. Many people store the originals in their safety deposit box. Make sure you also have contact information for your bank and insurance company, as well as for your utility and credit card companies.
  • Take advantage of technology. Upload important documents such as personal and financial records to a secure backup or cloud drive that you can access remotely in case you have to evacuate.
  • Other ways to prepare include creating a video log of your belongings (jewelry, appliances and other valuables), and creating an emergency information document to record your emergency plans. More information and additional “Get Tech Ready” tips are available at www.redcross.org/techready.
We know no one likes thinking about the possibility of a disaster, but we know the importance of preparedness. And what better time to prepare than now, during National Preparedness Month?
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