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Be Aware

Secure Vital Documents

When a disaster strikes, having access to important documents can help you start the recovery process quickly. The Federal Department of Emergency Management (FEMA) recommends collecting and safeguarding the items below

Household Identification

Think about the documents you would need to identify yourself and your household members, including children and pets, your relationships or status. These may include:

  • Vital records (birth, marriage, divorce certificate, adoption, child custody papers, passport, driver’s license, Social Security card, green card, military service identification)
  • Pet ownership papers, identification tags

Financial and Legal Documentation

If your home or income is impacted by a disaster, you will need documentation to request assistance from insurance providers and government disaster assistance programs.

  • Housing: lease or rental agreement, mortgage, home equity line of credit, deed
  • Vehicle: loan documents, VIN, registration, title
  • Other Financial Obligations: utility bills, credit cards, student loans, alimony, child support, elder care, automatic payments such as gym memberships
  • Financial Accounts: checking, savings, debit cards, retirement, investments
  • Insurance Policies: homeowner’s, renter’s, auto, life, flood, appraisals, photos, and lists of valuable items
  • Sources of Income: pay stubs, government benefits, alimony, child support
  • Tax Statements: Federal/state income tax returns, property tax, vehicle tax
  • Estate Planning: will, trust, power of attorney

Medical Information

  • Health/dental insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, VA health benefits
  • List of medications, immunizations, allergies, prescriptions, medical equipment and devices, pharmacy information
  • Living will, medical power of attorney
  • Caregiver agency contract or service agreement
  • Disabilities documentation
  • Contact information for doctors/specialists, dentists, pediatricians, veterinarians

Emergency or Hotline Contact Information for Household

  • Employers/supervisors
  • Schools
  • Houses of worship
  • Social services providers
  • Homeowners associations
  • Home repair services: utilities, plumber, roofer, carpenter, electrician
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Download the full FEMA checklist to help you gather your important documents.