Your 72 Hour Kit
Now that you have your 72 hour kit organized and that of your pets, it’s time to consider what other information and documents will be important, expensive or difficult to replace in the event of an evacuation.
With any luck, you have already started a regular program of backing up your computer files. If this backup includes your house inventory and scans of important documents, then you are halfway there. A wise choice would be to keep a CD of this information at a site other than your home as well, for example at a trusted friend’s or relative’s house in a different community. As well as the electronic format, you should also make paper copies or printouts of the documents and keep them in a sealed, waterproof pouch in your emergency kit so they are with you even if your house is damaged or destroyed.
The documents should include:
Personal: Birth and marriage certificates, divorce decrees, passports, diploma and military documents, Social Insurance card and photocopies of your driver’s license and the front and back of all credit cards. Family photos are likely irreplaceable, so also keep negatives or a second set in a remote location. Also include phone numbers of friends and relatives, because numbers stored on your cell phone may be inaccessible if its battery dies and you can’t recharge.
Home and Property: Home deed, mortgage and closing statements; car titles; insurance policies or at the minimum, policy number and contact information for your agent and insurer; appraisal documents for jewelry and other valuables.
Estate: Your will, executor and estate planning paperwork, including names and phone numbers.
Medical: Health insurance cards, prescription records (especially for medications for chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma), immunization records and contact information for your doctors.
Financial: Stock and bond certificates; RRSP account numbers; recent bank statements; and tax records, including important receipts. Cash, $ 100 or so in smaller bills.
Prove your possessions:
To minimize possible insurance claim hassles, take and safeguard or video of the contents of each room, including the garage – as proof that you own possessions that might be lost or damaged. “An advantage of videotaping possessions is that you can narrate, such as “I bought this table at this store, at this time, it’s this brand and cost me this much.
“Read it before you need it. “
The biggest mistake made by disaster-devastated homeowners? Not knowing beforehand what their policies cover – and don’t. Are there riders or supplemental coverages you may need? More on this topic in a later column.
Top Ten Items
Make a list of the few items that you could take with you if you had the time to get them. Your family should work together to come up with a list of irreplaceable things that are meaningful, small and light. Things like a TV, GameCube, or computer are easily replaced and would be poor choices but a laptop computer with all the family records on it would be a good choice. Consider taking jewelry, heirlooms, mementos, photos, a favorite toy, and important papers.
If a disaster allows you the time, you can gather those items when you evacuate. Each person should know where their special items are and be able to get them in just a couple of minutes. Don’t put your family at risk by wasting time gathering these things, but having a plan will make things go much quicker if time is available.