What documents to carry in your go bags?
I’m wondering what documents folks are putting in their BOB and Get Home bags. Here are my thoughts of what I’ve seen so far. Starting from a list I found in the BOB section of this website, with my comments:
A list of important people and their contact/location information — check
Birth certificate — my birth certificate is in Russian, so I doubt it would be useful
SSN card — really? We should carry our original SSN card? What if it gets lost?
Passport — I carry an expired one, so my current one is available for other things. Is that okay?
State ID — check: it’s always in my wallet.
List of financial accounts and credit card numbers — don’t forget the expiration and CVV codes as well as the phone numbers for your providers — Really? Is it a good idea to carry all your account numbers with you? What if someone sees them or steals them?
Titles/deeds — what kinds of titles or deeds?
Anything proving parental relationships, especially if adopted or different last names — not really applicable to me.
Pictures of important people, both for morale and to give to others for recovery/reconnection — are we talking about people we live with, or important people in general?
Health, homeowners, auto, life, and other major insurance policy numbers and phone numbers — check
Important medical history, medication (with dosage), and allergies
Living will or Do Not Resuscitate instructions — check
Are there other kinds of information? What about pet-related info?
- Little Bear’s Mom Little Bear’s Mom - August 27, 2020
I keep photocopies of my passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, marriage certificate, the titles to my house and car (you won’t have the car title if you’re still making payments, so I guess you’d want the documentation of the finance arrangement instead), medical info, and insurance docs in the BOB. For our 2 cats, I include copies of their adoption, microchip, and most recent rabies vaccination certificates. I don’t keep credit card info in the BOB at all, but do have cash. I also recently added a list of emergency phone numbers, including insurance and utilities, along with the policy/account numbers for each. (I realized how important those are when we had a big storm and my power company’s website went down during the outage.) I have scans of most of this saved securely electronically as well. The idea is to have copies of all the key stuff I’d need if I had to run out of the house with literally nothing but the bag and the pets.
When not in use (which is usually), I keep the originals, other than the cards that live in my wallet, in a fireproof document bag in our home filing cabinet so that I could grab them easily if needed. I don’t want to have to unpack the BOB to get to them if I need them in the normal course, but I also want them to be safe, secure, and all together so I’m not hunting around in an emergency. And I also keep a credit card I rarely use in the fireproof bag as a backup.
I think having an old passport in the BOB is fine (they do return them to you, but with a hole punched in them!) but you might want to include a photocopy of the current one, too, just in case you need to show that you have a current one.
Jay ValenciaContributor - August 26, 2020
I didn’t even know you could keep your old passport. I thought you had to send it in or hand it over before you can get a new one? I can’t remember what happened when I got mine renewed.
Jonnie PekelnyContributor - August 27, 2020
You do have to send in your old passport and then they send it back to you with a little hole punched through it. So it’s no longer valid, but it still shows who you are.
Michelle_B - August 26, 2020
I think a relatively recent utility bill in your name is a good idea to show you really live where you say you do. I would personally never keep credit card info with CVV codes in a bag, just in case they were stolen. And as for my SS card, I just know the number, and wouldn’t put my actual card in my bag, either. Everything else you listed seem to make sense!
G.E. - September 1, 2020
Good point. I lived north of NYC when Hurricane Sandy hit. When authorities let people return to their neighborhoods to pick through the rubble, they wanted proof of residency to prevent opportunisits looting destroyed homes.
Little Bear’s Mom - August 27, 2020
Liz Klein - August 27, 2020
Keeping the account numbers for electricity and utilities is a great idea! I didn’t think of that, but it would surely cut down on time when dealing with them afterward.
Alicia - August 31, 2020
Thanks Jonnie Pelenky for the thread. I’m still weighing the options for what physical copies to include, myself. Some thoughts I’ve had in addition to this great list from Little Bear’s Mom: If your state ID doesn’t have your current address on it, a physical copy of something that quickly and easily proves where you reside is key to getting in during, or back in after, an evacuation. I don’t think a title is required but a utility bill would suffice (and be less risky if lost in the transaction). I plan to have the applicable documents copied securely electronically on a password protected flashdrive. Additionally, I plan to include a home inventory and video of the inside of my home for any insurance claim if needed. Plus a backup of all my current electronic family photos (these drives come in large capacity these days).
Matt Black - September 1, 2020
We keep all documents in waterproof bags (separated by individual) locked in a fireproof safe at home. I’ve also kept less important documents in the safe, along with some combustable material and matches as a procautionary measure.
If the actual documents don’t work out, one of our fallbacks is having scans of all documents encrypted on an encrypted USB in an ESD bag, which is inside of a waterproof bag. Each individual has a copy of all the files. That way, if someone loses a USB pack, gets their gear stolen, or needs to ditch, others will have the information.
The final fallback is a work in progress. Remote family members each have something like a multi-drive Synology NAS. Each individual reserves 1 drive in their system for another individual (or the entire group). It’s all about security and redundency.
Supersonic - September 30, 2020
Sorry… Long post here…
Having a backup of important information and documents has been a lifesaver for me countless times. This is a great example of modern and urban prepping. It’s not everyday that I need to start a fire at my office with a firesteel, but if I need to email someone a copy of my drivers license or look at the last time I had a check up at my doctor, these important documents come in handy very often.
I agree with Matt Black’s comment that security and redundancy is key. If you are comfortable encrypting a flash drive then that is something highly recommended. I have all these important documents on me at all times on a small flash drive, on a flash drive and extra cell phone in my BOB, multiple external hard drives, on my computer, and also stored on the cloud which will be accessible from anywhere at anytime with an internet connection.
Photocopying, scanning, documenting, and saving all sorts of emails, documents, id’s, records, and many more really gives me a sense of security that I have everything that I need in a clean organized fashion.
Right now I just have everything stored electronically. I have USB to cellphone adapters so that I can access these documents on my main or BOB cellphone if needed and I am away from a computer, but having a hard copy of the very important documents would be a good idea that I still need to implement.
Here is a list of my important document list. Feel free to adapt it to your needs and organization style:
☐ Birth Certificates / Death Certificates
☐ Social Security Cards
☐ Driver’s Licenses
☐ Concealed Carry Permits
☐ Passports / Visas
☐ Marriage Records
☐ Military Records
☐ Voter Registration Cards
☐ Password Manager List of Online Accounts with Usernames, Passwords, PIN #s, and Account #s
☐ A Recent clear photo of each family member
☐ Family Emergency Plan
☐ Map of Area/ Evacuation Route / Rendezvous Point
☐ List of Relatives and most Important Contacts with Phone# and physical Address
☐ Medical Records
☐ Medical Insurance Cards
☐ Immunization Records
☐ Prescription List and with Dosage and Schedule
☐ Dental Records
☐ Allergies (Food / Substance / Prescription, etc.) of each Family Member
VALUABLES AND PROPERTY:
☐ Combinations to Safes
☐ Safety Deposit Box Information and Contact
☐ Firearm Licenses and Serial Numbers
☐ Warranties for any Major Possessions
☐ Home Inventory List with Pictures, Descriptions, Receipts, Serial Numbers
BUSINESS AND EMPLOYMENT:
☐ Business Licenses
☐ Business Insurance Records
☐ Resumes, References, History of previous jobs
☐ Checkbook Information
☐ Photo copy of back and front of Credit Card / Debit Card with Pin Numbers
☐ Checking and Savings Bank account numbers
☐ Paycheck Stub from Current Places of Employment
☐ Tax Return for past 3 Years
☐ Credit Reports
☐ Stock Certificates / Savings Bonds / Certificates of Deposit / Mutual Funds
☐ Loan Documents (For Student Loans, Lines of Credit)
☐ 401K Plan Information and Contact
☐ Retirement Pension Plan Documents
☐ Retirement Social Security Income Documents
HOME, VEHICLES AND PROPERTY:
☐ Titles, Deeds to All Properties & Vehicles
☐ Insurance Policies / ID Cards (For Properties, Vehicles, etc.)
☐ Handicap Placards
☐ Vehicle Registrations / License plate numbers
☐ Vehicle Repair History / Repair Manuals / Owners Manuals / Safety Recall Information
☐ Home Repair History
☐ Pictures of Vehicles
☐ Mortgage Papers / Rental / Lease Agreements with contact information
☐ Utilities information, account numbers, and contact information. Recent utility bill
☐ Home Security Codes and Contact Information
☐ Photo Copy of Keys, each labeled (Home, Cars, Safes, RV, Mailbox, Shed, Gate, etc.)
☐ Diplomas and Certificates
☐ Church Records
☐ Academic Records and Transcripts
☐ School ID’s
☐ Living Will / Final Will
☐ Contact Info for everyone named in Will / Trust
☐ Trust Information and Contact
☐ Life Insurance Policies
☐ Burial (Funeral) Insurance Policies
☐ Medical power of attorney / health care directive
☐ Electronic and/or Manual Lock codes to padlocks/entry gates, etc.
☐ Recent picture of pets from multiple angles, copies of their medical info, vaccinations, Microchip info, adoption papers
☐ Important Clearance Documents, Badges, Parking Passes, Security Passes, Library Cards, National Parks Pass etc.
☐ Old and Outdated Documents
Is there anything that I missed that you would recommend me adding to my list? 🙂 I would love your feedback.
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