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Bug-Out Kits: Your Papers, Please...

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Talking to my sweetie yesterday. She had been discussing the New Orleans situation with a lawyer friend, when talk turned to bug-out kits and disaster preparation. Just one more reason why I love her so.

Anyway, the point about including critical papers & documents in your bug-out kit, or having them quickly at hand together in an identifiable place, struck me as an under-appreciated concept. People need to remember that in a crisis they may not be able to remember basic information. So take originals or photocopies of:

  1. All insurance policies or info. Quick test: can you name the companies and agent's name for all of your key insurance policies? At minimum you need the policy number, the issuing company name and the agent's name and phone number.

  2. At least one copy of bank books or a bank statement. Can reduce hassle in getting to your money. Esp. important if your funds are at a small local bank or credit union.

  3. Ruth, who lives in Tornado Alley, suggests having some traveller's cheques in your kit. Not a bad idea.

  4. A bill, any bill - cable TV works well. Can be used to establish residency.

  5. Tax return, preferably your most recent. Can be helpful in getting emergency loans.

  6. Passport, if applicable.

  7. Birth Certificate(s).

  8. Marriage certificate.

  9. Eyeglass prescription, if aplicable.

  10. Doctor(s) name and phone number, a list of any chronic conditions, allergies, or vulnerabilities you may have, and a list of all prescriptions you take. The prescription medicines themselves should go in your version of Armed Liberal's emergency medical kit when it's time to leave, of course, but that isn't always possible. That's when having the paper et. al. can be a lifesaver.

Reader "htom" suggests "Photocopies (notarized copies if applicable) of all of those documents. Leave the orginals in the safety deposit box. Seal both sets in ziplock bags, twice."

NOTE: If you face no-warning disaster possibilities like an earthquake zone, have these papers handy somewhere else like your car, or even a trusted person far outside your area who you can call. Doesn't do much good to have them handy in the house if you're at work, and your house is rubble, and they're inaccessible.

Any other must-have recommendations?

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Tracked: September 3, 2005 3:26 PM
Assistance And Preparations from The Laughing Wolf
Excerpt: Take a moment today, and think how good you have it. Here, the sun is shining in a bright blue sky, the mood is peaceful, and despite a cold/sinus infection trying to start up, life is good. It is very...


Photocopies (notarized copies if applicable) of all of those documents. Leave the orginals in the safety deposit box. Seal both sets in ziplock bags, twice.

Eyeglass prescriptions. Complete medical histories, for when you're found but are not responsive.

Ziplocks are good, but for the originals, consider getting someone with a vacuum food sealer to seal the originals for you. Place the originals between some acid free paper, seal, and they should survive both the ravages of time better, as well as ravages of an emergency. Do the same with your emergency copies, as they will be better protected and take up less room perhaps. It is good to have multiple sets in bug out kits, so that if one kit is lost all is not lost, and it gives you one set to use while keeping at least one more sealed in reserve.

One possible way to store the copies of your documents is to scan them into a common format like pdf (my Canon scanner software includes a pdf option) and store them in an online server. To preserve privacy for sensitive information, you can use Truecrypt (it's free) to create an encrypted "canister" file to hold each of your copies and just upload the canister file to the server. I believe that the Yahoo premium services include file space, and some other email providers include file space with their accounts.

A small USB memory key works nicely as a portable method for carrying PDF documents too. Store it in a film canister for waterproofing.

Don't forget immunization records for your children and pets. I keep copies in my bag and also in my daughter's bag and the bag for the pets.

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