We’ve talked about how to protect your identity in the aftermath of a disaster such as the deadly tornadoes in the South and Midwest.
But what can you do before catastrophe strikes?
If you live in a danger zone—areas susceptible to earthquakes, flooding and bad weather—it's important to get organized. A little preparation can go a long way when your family is recovering from a cataclysmic event.
Take time to follow these 7 steps:
- Create a family ID theft protection plan. Make front-and-back copies of personal documents and store them in a safe deposit box. That includes birth certificates, driver’s licenses, passports, as well as Social Security, voter’s registration and medical insurance cards. Don’t forget credit and debit cards. Consider storing everything in an encrypted file to access online.
- Develop a family emergency plan. Outline steps for how your family will communicate in an emergency. Take into consideration that you may be separated: Kids may be at school. Parents may be at work. Identify primary and secondary contacts and meeting places.
- Keep emergency numbers handy. Post a list of phone numbers for support and home utilities such as emergency services, electrical power, natural gas, water, telephone. Locate the “off” switches for electric, gas and water. Knowing how to safely turn off the electric, gas and water utilities can help prevent secondary fires, explosions and internal flooding to a residence.
- Store irreplaceable items in the cloud. It's easy and affordable to store irreplaceable items in an online vault. This includes special family photographs, and historical, estate and trust documents.
- Record property identification. For insurance purposes, record the model and serial numbers for large ticket items such as large screen TV, audio equipment, musical instruments, and other personal belongings of value. Photograph them as evidence of possession and store the photos in an online vault.
- Assemble a go-to kit. Keep a suitcase or duffle bag handy in the event of an immediate evacuation. Pack key items including LED flashlight, portable radio, sharp utility knife, toilet paper, water bottles, energy food bars, a lighter or matches, a first aid kit and supplies. Take your wallet, purse and ATM card with you to keep them secure and have 24-hour access to cash and funds. Take house, office and car key, which may be good options for secondary shelter.
- Stay charged. Keep your cell phones and PDAs charged. Pack extra chargers in the event of evacuation.
For more information, visit ready.gov.