September is National Preparedness Month and a reminder that we should always be prepared for an emergency or disaster. If you had 15 minutes or less to evacuate your home, what would you take?
Photos, electronics, laptops and computers, prescription medication or vital documents? Could you gather most of these items up in 15 minutes or less? Most people couldn’t. That is why it is important to plan and organize.
While no one can be completely prepared for every type of emergency or disaster, organizing vital documents and knowing what you own is a start and can significantly reduce stress when starting over.
Smead’s Life Documents Organizer is one place to start. The simple to use kit gives you suggestions on all the vital documents you might want to gather and store in one place (or at least store copies, with instructions on where to find the originals).
In addition to you and your family’s vital documents, you might also consider doing the following. Do a physical items inventory – you can either make a list of all your items valued at more than $100 or you could make a video and note items of special importance or value.
If you do a video, make sure you open closet doors, dresser drawers and cupboard doors and go slowly to give a full picture of the contents Assemble a list of all the companies you do business with along with contact information.
You could save a monthly set of statements so you have account numbers and know exactly whose name the account is set up in. Upload your family photos to a photo sharing site or the Cloud. Having them on multiple sites gives you added protection. In addition, print pictures of each family member in case someone goes missing (update these each year).
Create a list of family, friends, business associates and others with their addresses and contact information. Also include out of state contacts in case evacuation requires you to move some distance from your home. Also consider making a list of contacts for college students that live out of state; maybe you have family or business associates that could help out if needed.
Getting your life documents in order in the event of an emergency is something we don't always think about. Professional Organizer Julie Ulmer discusses the importance of having documents prepared and a unique tool to help with the process.
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