CHICAGO, Sept. 14, 2023 -- Hurricanes and wildfires plague the United States every year - some destroying almost everything in their paths. Depending on the disaster and how quickly it's moving, communities may only have a couple days, hours or even moments to evacuate, with potentially life-altering impacts.
This Disaster Preparedness Month, as we enter the peak of wildfire and hurricane season, it's imperative that individuals and families have plans and safeguards in place to protect not only themselves, but also their valuable assets, including important documents. To help households keep their most sensitive documents and personal identification information (PII) safe, Keeper Security is sharing the most important files to have stored in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.
- Household Identification: Any physical documentation identifying who lives at a residence is imperative to store safely for multiple reasons. For example, photo IDs prove the identity of household members in the event of damage to the house or injury to a resident, birth certificates maintain or re-establish contact with family members, and Social Security cards can be used to apply for FEMA disaster assistance, if needed. Additional household identification documents that should be protected are military service information and pet ID tags. By uploading copies of these important documents that contain highly sensitive information to a secure digital database, you'll have digital copies as a back-up in case any physical documents get damaged or destroyed in a disaster.
- Financial and Legal Documentation: Disasters cause enough chaos, and it can be easy to lose track of financial and legal obligations in the process. Housing payments are important to keep safe to identify financial records and possible loans, insurance policies help re-establish financial accounts, evidence of various sources of income are used to maintain payments and credit, and tax statements provide contact information for financial and legal providers to apply for FEMA disaster assistance.
- Medical Information: If a natural disaster injures an individual or family member, protecting certain medical records is critical. Households should consider storing physician information in case medical care is needed, copies of health insurance information/cards to ensure existing care continues uninterrupted for specific conditions that require it, as well as immunization records and medication information to inform medical assistance teams if necessary or to fulfill work and school requirements. By storing digital copies of important medical records safely in a fully encrypted vault, individuals can also give trusted friends and family emergency access to such documents in the event of injury, illness or loss of life.
- Insurance Information: Unpredictable damage to a home can be life altering and displace a family indefinitely. To ensure that your home is protected, it's crucial to keep records of all home, wind and flood insurance policies, so necessary financial resources can be provided if you need to repair, replace or rebuild what is damaged or lost.
- Household Contact Information: Lastly, it's important to keep records of a household's core institutions that handle the most important information and care, including banks, insurance agents, health professionals, service providers and places of worship.
National Preparedness Month aims to educate and empower Americans to be ready if or when emergency strikes. Although disasters are inherently unpredictable, and often unavoidable, one thing you can avoid is losing access to important files that are critical to have in times of crisis. By protecting these documents and storing them in a safe place, such as a digital vault, you'll be much more prepared when disaster strikes.