Your Go!Bag Documents
Emergencies can happen in the middle of the night or anytime you're not prepared. There might not be time to even grab your wallet, certainly not time to go get your passport and other ID that prove you are who you say you are. This article walks you through the documents you need to prepare in the event of an emergency, and in the event of complete disaster.
So let’s get started getting all the documents you need to put in emergency GoBag and knock them off your checklist of things to do. We assume you’ve downloaded our FREE Emergency Plan & GoBag Checklist. If not, you can do it now. [Download link].
Don't let overwhelm delay you!
This isn't that hard. It should only take you 10 or 15 minutes to fill it out. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good. If you can only get most of it done, do that and leave the rest for later. You'll still be steps ahead of where you'd be if you don't do anything.
- Print it out and fill it out. You may not have access to your phone or the internet, so a hard copy will be totally useful.
- One copy goes in your GoBag.
- Take a copy to work and put it in your office.
- Stick a copy in your kids’ backpacks.
- Once you print it out, scan it or take a photo of it:
- Send a copy to your contact people so they know what your plan is.
- Email yourself a copy.
- Store a copy in a secure location online.
(If you’re an Amazon Prime member you get FREE, secure online storage (and if you aren’t, why not?) You can get it here: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial.)
Get all your ID together and make a copy:
- Driving license
- Health insurance card
- Social Security Card
- Student ID / Office ID, any other important ID or badges
- Birth Certificate(s)
- Marriage License / Domestic Partnership Agreement
If you have a scanner (most home printers do) scan these documents onto your computer. The same printer probably has a copy function, so make printed copies as well. If it's a color printer, print your copies in color. The first 5 proves you are who you say you are (or in the event you aren't able to, allows responders to ID you). Birth Certificates of yourself (and children if you have them) allow you to make health care decisions for them. Same with Marriage License if you are married. You don't want to be denied access at the hospital.
Now ID everyone:
- Printed list of family members, pets (include copy of pet medical records)
- Important photos (including recent photos of family members and pets in case of separation)
- Printed list of all medications, allergies
In case you get separated, having pictures of your family and pets can be crucial in finding them and getting reunited. If you or they have medical issues, allergies, need medications, all of that is critical information for responders and you don't want to have to remember what pills someone takes, when they take them, and what they're for.
Get important numbers:
- Print a list of important phone numbers: family, friends, colleagues, insurance agent
- Print a list of banking and credit card details, account numbers, passwords
No one remembers these numbers anymore, and you may not be able to access the numbers stored on your computer or mobile phone. We do recommend putting these on a memory stick as well, and storing them in your secure online location so when you do have power and internet again, you have access.
Don't rely on credit cards:
Stick some cash in a Ziplock baggie. Put some small bills in there as well as large bills. If you are overseas, a couple different currencies isn't a bad idea. We have our local currency (Botswana Pula), our larger neighbor's currency (South African Rand) and some Euros along with good old greenback US dollars.
And in the event of disaster:
- Insurance policies
- Deeds / Titles to property, vehicles
- Printed list of household inventory
- Memory stick with a video of every room in the house
People don't realize how hard it is to recreate that information in the event of a total loss. Use your mobile phone and go through the house room by room and make a video. Narrate what you're looking at. Use the "sharing" function and email the file to yourself, and then save it on a memory stick. Having this data on hand will help you get any insurance claim handled quickly. Or at least, more quickly.
Put all of this in a Ziplock bag, and put it in your GoBag.
And you're done.
One last thought
Lots of folks recommend putting your originals in a Fireproof, Water Resistant bag. Since you will likely leave the originals behind, it's nice to know they might survive a disaster. Here's the bag we use:
Fireproof Document Bag 15″ x 11″
If you haven't done this already, do this now:
You can order all 10 recommended essential products for a basic Go!Bag with a single click here: Basic Go!Bag.
Want to build your own custom Go!Bag?
Go step by step through all our recommended products and build your own custom kit: Build a Kit
About our methodology
We spent hours reviewing materials from FEMA (the US Federal Emergency Management Agency), the Red Cross, the Humane Society as well as a host of other government and non-governmental organizations to put together the checklist of necessary items. We then spent many more hours reviewing products. We look for quality, completeness without overkill, high customer ratings, and price. We read the customer reviews and note their experience. And of course, these are the items we personally bought.