Disaster Preparedness Month, night 2: Docs in the freezer?

All month long, we’re planning a nightly spotlight on Disaster Preparedness Month, and steps you can take – not just the same old ones you’ve heard over and over again and maybe even tuned out – to be sure you have the best chance at “getting through it” should something big happen. Tonight, expert advice forwarded by the local folks behind the Emergency Communication Hubs around West Seattle – at the heart of this excellent web resource – something particularly timely if you are still working on your taxes and have some of these docs out already: The documents you need to compile and set aside ahead of time, so you wouldn’t lose precious time in recovery mode.

After a major disaster, you may need financial assistance and will want to document any property loss for insurance and income tax purposes. Having ready access to the documents necessary for completing application forms, as well as those which could be difficult to replace, will help reduce delay and frustration.

At A Minimum:
1. Gather property insurance papers (home, auto, boat, etc.) and make copies.
2. Gather health insurance papers (medical provider, dental provider, life, extended disability, etc.) and make copies.
3. Gather financial papers (bank, investment, retirement, etc.) and make copies.
4. Gather wills, powers of attorney, and estate papers and make copies.
5. Take photos or videos of all valuables as documentation for insurance claims.

• Store these copies and photos in a safe deposit box, or in a ziplock bag in your freezer (you may want to disguise these documents by putting them in a clean box like a frozen pizza box).

The latter advice is frequently offered by police, too, in case you become a theft/burglary victim. Even if you can’t do all this right now, find a few of the documents that are handy and start – get those to the safe-deposit box or freezer – add to it as you are able. Meantime, our nightly spotlights continue Saturday night; if you missed Night 1 on Thursday, it was simple advice – Know your hub, which you can do by browsing the West Seattle Be Prepared website (and joining its Facebook group too – check out the quake info posted today).

2 Replies to "Disaster Preparedness Month, night 2: Docs in the freezer?"

  • Nathan Dufault April 3, 2010 (8:56 pm)

    If these are only copies, what’s the point of keeping them physically safe from damage? Why not just digitize them and store them online or on a USB stick away from home?

  • homedk April 5, 2010 (9:06 pm)

    One good reason to do this is so that you have them immediately handy in paper format in case our entire area is without power for a long time. It could be especially important to have a few photos of loved ones & your pets.
    USB drives are great for storing lots of data, so you may want to do that as well.
    Another good idea is to give copies of anything irreplaceable to someone outside this area whom you trust.

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