Updated: May 24, 2019
In unexpected ways, we can suddenly find ourselves in the middle of a disaster that will require us to evacuate our homes. It can be a fire, storm or hurricane. There could be an earthquake or worse, insurgencies.
When this happens, it helps to have a “grab-and-go” bag where all your vital documents are stored. You just, as the term says, grab it and immediately go to leave your home and towards safety.
What should be in a grab-and-go bag?
I consider this as the most important item to have there. Bank ATMs could go offline during such disaster and it will be hard to move around if you don’t have money. Have enough cash worth at least a week of your expenses.
Make sure to have your insurance policies securely placed in your grab-and-go bag. Having your original copies will help in getting your claims quickly later on.
But more than the policy, you should also have the contact information of your insurer and agent. And for your home insurance, the most recent inventory of what you have in your house, which includes “before” pictures of your residence.
I’m referring to birth and marriage certificates. But also, everyone’s passport and photocopies of driver’s licenses, social security card, and other government IDs.
This refers to your bank passbooks, safe deposit box information, keys duplicates, as well as certificates of investments. Also include deeds, lease contracts, and documents that prove your ownership of properties and paper assets.
A list of the whole family’s medical conditions, including medical records on allergies, immunization, and current prescriptions. It’s also recommended to have a 7-day supply of necessary medications and a first-aid kit.
Have a list of names, addresses, and contact information of family members, relatives, and close friends that you can ask for help during disasters. You can also include those of your family lawyer, and medical doctor.
Your grab-and-go bag should be sturdy but easy to carry. I use a briefcase-type messenger bag for my house. And I know someone who uses a waterproof laptop backpack for his.
Also, you’re not limited to just one bag. You can have one for all the documents, and another one for the medical supplies and emergency kit with batteries, flashlight, etc.
Furthermore, family members should know where it is and understand why it’s the first thing they should grab in case there’s a need to evacuate. Also, appoint a person who will regularly update the documents inside the grab-and-go bag.
Lastly, take photos of the documents mentioned and store them on the cloud to serve as your digital backup. And for non-sensitive documents (such as birth and marriage certificates), you can give photocopies to relatives as a second backup.
When there’s a disaster, your priority should be you and your family’s safety. Having a grab-and-go bag will save you precious time during these unfortunate circumstances when every second counts.