Ready SoCal: Store crucial documents

LOS ANGELES If you were told to evacuate your home in 10 minutes or less, would you know where all of your important papers are? You might need your homeowner's insurance policy, birth certificates, medical cards, bank account numbers and more. However, before that happens, now is the time to take a few photos.

"I always recommend taking pictures of your interior in case you have to prove the value of your goods," said Herb Kahn, disaster preparedness expert.

Kahn has lots of great ideas for getting ready before tragedy strikes. One is having a bag ready to grab near the front door.

In it you should have several different emergency items including a computer disc.

"All my essential papers, such as driver's license, credit card numbers, mortgage papers, income tax ... anything that's essential that I have to retrieve that is part of my identity," said Khan.

Besides a computer disc, Herb says you can use inexpensive flash or "thumb drive" devices.

"You can store all of your documentation - all of your personal documentation - on this. You can plug it in to any computer, instead of carrying all the paperwork with you. Everything is minimized," said Kahn.

A fire-retardant box is one good place to store your thumb drive, computer disc or important documents. Other good locations include:

  • Safe Deposit Box
  • Workplace
  • With a Friend or Relative
  • The Freezer
"The reason I keep them in the freezer is because if there is a fire in your household, the freezer is the last thing to burn," said Kahn.

Kahn has a list of some of the documents you should have at the ready:

  • Insurance Policies
  • Credit Card Numbers
  • Bank Account Numbers
  • Vehicle Titles
  • List of Medications
  • Birth Certificates
  • Will
  • Cash
"If you're going to be dealing with people, credit card systems will be down due to electronic failure. And so people will want to deal in cash," said Kahn.

Another good reason to have some cash is that if the power goes out, then the ATMs won't be working.

For more information:

Ready (Disaster preparedness)
Prepare, plan and stay informed with
Visit the Web site for

FEMA: Are you ready?
An in-depth guide to citizen preparedness by FEMA.
Visit the Web site for FEMA

Red Cross Disaster Services
American Red Cross preparedness information.
Visit the Web site for the American Red Cross


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