Hurricane-Ready: Protecting your documents

One of the most important things to secure during a hurricane—and the most overlooked —is your important documents. Here are a few things to remember:

  1. Store originals in a safe-deposit box at a bank.
  2. Choose a bank some distance from your home to reduce the risk of both places suffering the same disaster.
  3. Get a listing of all of your bank’s locations, addresses and phone numbers.
  4. Copy all the documents in the safe-deposit box and place them in an evacuation box (preferably a fire-proof box).
  5. Store your evacuation box some place you can get to easily. Take it with you if you evacuate.
  6. Update documents in both boxes once or twice a year.
  7. Write instructions concerning health and financial decisions for your family in the event you become incapacitated.
  8. If you own a home, consider opening a home equity line of credit so emergency funds will be available.


  • Safe-deposit box information (location, contents and key)
  • Cash, a few rolls of quarters and traveler’s checks


  • Insurance policies (life, auto, homeowners, renters, etc.)
  • Copies of health insurance information (insurance card, doctor’s name and number, prescriptions, allergies and immunizations)
  • Photocopy of driver’s license
  • Birth, Death and Marriage certificates
  • Social Security card
  • Passport
  • Will and living will
  • Mortgage/property deeds
  • Adoption papers
  • Military records
  • Car titles
  • Trust documents
  • Tax return(s)
  • Written instructions for family members
  • List of emergency contacts, (family, friends, lawyer, financial advisors, etc.)
  • Personal property inventory (item description, serial number, receipt and photograph or video)


  • Home improvement records /receipts
  • Warranties and receipts for major purchases
  • Appraisals of jewelry, collectibles, artwork, etc.
  • Credit card records
  • Retirement account records
  • Recent checking, savings and investment account statements
  • Rental agreement and/or lease
  • Recent pay stub and employee benefits information
  • Backup disks of critical computerized information
  • Negatives of irreplaceable personal photographs (with protective plastic sleeves) provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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