Disaster Preparations – Important Documents

Documents Lock Box[1]

How long would it take you to find copies of financial records, insurance documents, birth certificates and more if you had to evacuate at a moment’s notice?

Before a disaster strikes is a good time to find and organize important documents you might need. What might you need? Any document that will be difficult to replace. Having these documents on hand through a disaster will help you get back on track if your possessions are damaged or you’re forced to relocate after a disaster.

By spending a little time now preparing for the worst, you’ll be confident in the safety of your financial documents. This will allow you to spend the crucial moments in a disaster thinking about more important things.

Protecting Documents

Documents Lock Box
Purchase a lockable, durable, and portable documents box to take with you in the event of an emergency. Put important document into the box sealed in waterproof plastic bags. Store the box in your home where you can get to it easily.

Safe Deposit Box
Safe deposit boxes are invaluable for protecting originals of important papers. Rent a safe deposit box in a bank far enough away from your home so it is not likely to be affected by the same disaster that strikes your home.

Important Documents Checklist

Important Documents[2]

The purpose of the Important Documents Checklist is to organize information so that you, or others who might have to manage your affairs, know where to find all records, and whom to contact, such as your lawyer, financial advisor, primary doctor, or dentist.

We recommend originals should be kept in a safe place, and a copy elsewhere, in case the originals are damaged or destroyed.

You should consider the following important documents to include:

Replacing Your Vital Documents

Fortunately, you can replace most important personal records. USA.gov has a list of links that your can use as a starting point: (Links open to USA.gov) [3]

  • Address Change – When you move, be sure to change your address with the Post Office, IRS, and other government agencies, so that you’ll continue to receive mail and any government benefits at your new location.
  • Birth, Marriage, and Death Certificates  – Get records based on the location of the birth, death, marriage, or divorce.
  • Damaged Money  – The Treasury Department will exchange mutilated or damaged U.S. currency.
  • Drivers’ Licenses and Vehicle Registration  – Find your state’s motor vehicle department to get or replace your driver’s license, and register your car.
  • Federal Civilian Personnel Records  – Go to the National Archives website for guidance on requesting personnel records for former federal civilian employees. Current federal workers can get personnel records from their human resources office.
  • Green Card Replacement  – Get instructions on how to replace a lost, stolen, or damaged permanent resident card (green card).
  • Medicare Card Replacement  – Learn how to replace a lost, stolen, or damaged Medicare card.
  • Military Service Records  – Get copies of military service records, to prove military service or to research genealogy.
  • Passport  – Report your lost or stolen passport immediately. Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if your passport is lost or stolen overseas.
  • Replace a Savings Bond  – Replace lost, stolen, or destroyed paper savings bonds.
  • Saving Family Treasures  – The National Archives provides guidelines for the care for some of the more common materials affected by natural disasters or other emergencies.
  • School Records  – Contact your former school or the appropriate school district if the school has closed.
  • Social Security Card Replacement  – Learn how to replace your lost or stolen Social Security card.
  • Tax Return  – Request a copy of your federal tax return from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).