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COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness for Your Papers, Passwords and More

emergency preparedness for papers and more

 

 

Emergency preparedness goes beyond organizing your stuff. It starts with a will, durable power of attorney and legal documents and moves to online passwords and your digital life.  We all have important documents that we need access to during our lifetime and that our loved ones might need access to in the future. With the time we have, it’s a great time to organize these papers and more.

 

Tools to get organized

In an emergency, the last thing that should be an obstacle is locating paperwork. We need easy access to health insurance details, medical information, and advance directives. Estate plans, financial and insurance information, property and business interests should be documented and organized. Your digital life and passwords are also key to ensuring that information can easily be accessed.

Clients have often asked me how to do this and what is easiest to accomplish what seems like an overwhelming accumulation of data.  There is a comprehensive system called My Life Packet (www.mylifepacket.com.) It is an organizational tool that walks you through what you need to collect, record, and share. (Note I have no financial gain from sharing this tool.)

In My Life Packet,  you can pace yourself to consolidate the documents you need.  By taking inventory of what documents you have and where they are located can save everyone time, money, and stress. It is about peace of mind to have all these documents ready.

 

Time to get organized

Like all projects, take a big picture on organizing your important papers.

  • What do you want the end to look like? Is this an electronic document or a binder with papers?
  • What do already have accumulated?
  • Can you spend an hour at a time assembling these documents?
  • Who else in your family will you share this?

 

Time to share your documents

Documents like these are a gift to yourself and your family.  Take this project on,  like all big projects, as a way to share important conversations. According to Real Simple, there are 4 important family meetings all families need. These include the “Senior Summit” to discuss life documents, care and more. Having a Senior Summit is for all ages, not just seniors.  It’s not a one and done conversation in that as decisions can change and be updated.  Set a date as a deadline to start your first conversation.

 

Here is a basic list of what you will be needing to get started.

 

Getting Prepared and Organized in Case of an Emergency

organizing in case of emergency

 

 

Disasters happen across the US and throughout the year resulting in property damage, injuries and stress. There are some tasks that you can do to keep yourself organized during these potentially high stress situations.  Getting prepared and organized in case of an emergency makes everyone feel in control and as ready as possible.

 

Create a Kit

Include items like water, canned foods, a can opener and blankets. These are the basic necessities that can support you in case you are stranded or without power. If anyone in your family, including your pets, requires medication, make sure to grab this medication prior to exiting your home. Additional items like batteries, a flashlight, a first aid kit and wet wipes can come in handy. Consult ready.gov for a checklist.

 

An Evacuation Plan

One of the most challenging aspects of dealing with disasters is knowing where your family members are located and how to get to them. If everyone is in the same house, write down a plan to leave the home and get to safety. If family members are at school, work or running errands, determine what meeting place will be the central location and how to evacuate the area. It is good practice to document these processes and review them periodically.

 

Get Digitally Prepared

With the use of mobile phones, computers, tablets and other technology, there are a number of ways to protect your family during an extreme situation. Make an investment in back up chargers for these devices. Using cloud technology, identify pertinent documents and take photos of all your belongings and upload this information into a solution that can support photos and documents. Safely storing your information in the cloud can protect in case your home is no longer standing after a tragedy.

Get Your Home Prepared

With some effort, making enhancements around the home can help protect your home a little better during disasters. Add boards to windows and move outdoor furniture in or out of the line of the house when a hurricane warnings are issued. Trim back trees and shrubs when heavy winds and potential wild fires are expected. Invest in a generator if you are prone to a lot of storms which take out the power regularly.

 
These helpful tips can help make a difference during high stress situations. It is good to practice emergency preparedness when an emergency is not present to get in the habit when the unexpected happens.

 

 

Home Zada

 

Elizabeth Dodson is the co-founder of HomeZada, a cloud-based home management and organizational software tool. HomeZada strives to educate and provide resources for homeowners in all areas of home management, including home improvement projects, maintenance, inventory, and preparedness.

Emergency Preparedness: Organizing Your Important Documents

 

emergency preparedness organizing your papers

 

For the past few weeks, our news has been filled with weather related emergencies, family’s homes being devastated, and natural disasters.  On any given day, we could be faced with the unexpected in a significant way.  In case of emergency, we want to have access to the very important papers we need to assist those we love. To be prepared, here is a list of documents and storage options for security and access.

Personal records such as birth certificates, adoption papers, citizenship records, marriage certificates, divorce documents, military service records, passports and social security cards should be stored in a safe or safe deposit box. If you will need to refer to these items, make a copy and store them in your filing cabinet, listing the specific name of the item on a file folder in your “Personal” file drawer.

Tax returns are required by law to be retained permanently. The supporting tax information must be retained for 7 years. (Although the IRS can only audit returns for the previous three years, many exceptions can extend the deadline.) Keep tax returns separately from your supporting documents.  These can be kept in an attic or the bottom drawer of your file cabinet.

For life insurance policies, you must retain the initial policy as well as any addendums. Keep these originals together, each in a file labeled with the name of the insurance company on the file folder, in a safe in your home. Keep a list of the policy numbers and insurance companies in a file in your “Financial” file drawer, labeling the file “Insurance – Life”.  Any payments for these policies can also be kept in the “Financial” drawer.

Legal documents, such as power of attorney and wills, should be kept in a safe in your home and at your attorneys. Give a copy of the document to the executor and family members. Do not keep these in a safe deposit box, as this may be sealed when the box owner dies.

Property information for your home and auto, such as the deed to your home, mortgage, or car title, should be kept in a safe or safe deposit box. For home repair and maintenance bills, keep these in a filing cabinet labeled “Home Repair” in the “Home/Auto” file drawer. For auto repair and maintenance, label these “Auto-(name of car)”, and also keep these in the “Home/Auto” file drawer.

A household inventory is important in the event of a home catastrophe. Your insurance provider will need proof of loss in the event of a fire, flood, or robbery. Videotape or photograph your possessions. Place the photos in a notebook with receipts and appraisals for expensive items. In the video or notebook, categorize the items in your home by room. Keep the video or notebook in a safe or safe deposit box.

If your wallet is lost or stolen, it is important to keep a copy of the contents. Using a copy machine, photocopy the front and back of your credit cards, driver’s license, insurance cards and all else in your wallet. Store the copies in a file folder labeled “Wallet- (your name)” in your “Personal” file drawer.

September is National Preparedness Month.  By organizing your documents in case of a family emergency, you will feel peace of mind and security. Your family will appreciate your efforts on their behalf!

Emergency Preparedness

 

emergency prepareness

 

Hurricane season has already begun! Ever since Katrina and New Orleans years ago, we are all on alert for the worst.  Our family is vigilant about hurricanes due to Ike as well.  We were without power for 14 days!

With this in mind, here is our family preparedness check list.  Not sure where to start? I suggest baby steps!  Organize your papers first in a fireproof safe. Make a plan depending on whether you are staying or going.  Take it step by step to be ready.

Emergency Preparedness Checklist

Prepare and check when daylight savings time begins and ends!

Communicate your family plan to another family friend or relative.

For paper documents, place originals in safe or safe deposit box and carry copies with you.

Social Security cards Bottled water ( 1 gal per day per person)
Insurance policies (Life, Home, Auto, and Flood) Snacks
Passports Travel food
Drivers License Ice
Immunization records Paper towels
Medical records Toilet paper
Medication Hand sanitizer
Birth certificates Candles
Checkbooks Garbage bags
Credit cards Tool kit
Debit cards First Aid Kit
Will Safe deposit box list and keys
Legal documents Tarp
Valuables (jewelry and keepsakes) Matches
Computer back up/ thumb drive Rope
Cash ($500 suggested minimum) Old quilts and blankets
Photos Pet supplies
Family phone book Kids: Card and board games
Tax copies Battery operated TV
Document carrier or safe Battery operated radio
Batteries Walkie talkies
Flashlights Flips flops/extra shoes
Duct tape Video camera & tapes of home
Propane tanks filled Cooler
Cars filled up Can Opener
Gas in cans
Cell phones and chargers

Here are some amazing websites for preparedness too!

www.redcross.org

www.ready.gov

www.beprepared.com