Hurricane Alex was upgraded to the season’s first hurricane as of 10 pm CDT Tuesday, June 29th, but it may be only the beginning. Many weather experts are forming comparisons between the 2010 hurricane season and the 2005 season (which produced 28 named storms, including Hurricane Katrina) and Joe Bastardi (Chief Hurricane Meteorologist for AccuWeather.com) predicted that 18 to 21 named storms will occur in the 2010 season, four of which are expected to occur during July. What does this mean for you and I? How do we prepare? What do we prepare?
For any hurricane season, there are a few basics to concern yourself with. You should have a safe place to weather the storm and enough food and water to last for at least a few weeks. Check for flashlights, batteries and other essentials. But then what? It seems like we always forget something important when rushed into situations like this. Imagine the post-storm recovery. You might have evacuated the area or worse, your home might have been destroyed by flooding or tornadoes. What then? Were you prepared to start over or deal with the enormous task of insurance claims and a mountain of paperwork? Wait, the paperwork!!!!! That’s where today’s article comes in.
Before it’s too late, before you say “I wish I had thought of that,” before you have time to forget about it…. you need to locate and backup your important documents.
Preparing Your Documents
Before you can begin copying, scanning or organizing your important documents, you must establish what documents you need and where they are currently. There is no complete list of documents anywhere, but many different sites that can help jog your memory and get you started. Here are a list of items I put together and a few helpful links.
- Identification (Drive’s License, Passport, Social Security, Birth Certificate)
- Insurance Information (Medical, Home, Car)
- Property Records
- Power of Attorney
- Credit Card Information
- Financial Information (Bank Statements, Account Numbers, Retirement Accounts, 401k, Investments)
- Any original documents with a signature
Links to Lists of Important Documents
- Organize Important Family Records (Microsoft Home Magazine)
- What to Back Up (HP Web Site)
- List of Important Documents - PDF (PBS Article on Caring for your Parents)
- Emergencies: Are You Prepared – PDF (University of Kentucky – Agriculture)
- A Checklist of Important Family Documents (Portland Online)
Word of Warning
If nothing else, compiling this information into a Family Information folder or portable filing system will help you in the event you need to evacuate your home. Just keep in mind that this information is of the utmost importance and should be secured and, if possible, hidden. I read a recent article that said 40% of all identity theft is done by someone who knows the victim. An acquaintance, worker or “friend” might use this information if you don’t protect it. You cannot be too careful.
Now that you have this information organized and ready to backup, what do you do next? You could photocopy it all and save the copies in a safe-deposit box or secure location, but with today’s technology and the accessibility of scanners and broadband internet why should you limit yourself. In our next article, we will study the methods of scanning your documents, how and where to store the information. Check back tomorrow or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to receive daily updates as our articles are completed and posted.