Sheriff's Office

Emergency Family Preparedness - Preserving Your Family Documents

In a disaster, you might have to leave your home quickly. Important documents may be left behind and ultimately destroyed. Before the emergency occurs, decide which records are most essential to you and your family. One factor to consider is how readily a lost record could be replaced. Loss of some records could result in major financial damage (like tax records), or would be irreplaceable (like family photographs and historical documents). You may also need certain documents to provide to relief agencies and creditors after the emergency takes place.

The following is a list of documents you should safeguard and be able to retrieve quickly to take with you.

  • Licenses and/or other identification
  • Social Security cards
  • Passports
  • Medical history information and health insurance cards
  • Immunization records
  • Birth, marriage and death certificates
  • Records of bank accounts
  • Credit card information
  • Insurance policies
  • List of important or valuable belongings
  • Wills, contracts and deeds
  • Records of stocks, bonds or retirement accounts
  • Backup of key computer files

In order to ensure that you can quickly retrieve these documents, it is suggested that you:

  • Keep these documents (or copies of documents) in a water or fire proof container with your disaster kit
  • Keep them in a safe place away from home, like a safe deposit box
  • Be sure trusted family members know where these items can be found