Fire! Flood! Earthquake! Tornado! Hurricane!
Our world is more vulnerable to disasters, evacuations, public health events, crime, and terrorism every day. Setting aside stores of water, food, first aid, and supplies is essential to being prepared for everything from a two-day loss of power to a longer, emergency evacuation, or grid failure.
However, one of the most important aspects of disaster preparedness is often overlooked. After an emergency, it’s crucial that you’re able to prove and protect your identity, finances, and insurance information.
Unfortunately, regardless of the emergency, having to pay bills, managing credit cards and debt, etc doesn’t stop. You need to be prepared to pay bills and protect your credit rating in the event of an emergency.
Can you find these documents immediately and leave the house in five minutes?
- Marriage, birth and death certificates
- Drivers licenses and social security cards
- Car, home and health insurance documents
- Recent tax returns
- Wills and powers of attorney
- Bank account and credit card information
- Business documents
Create Your Emergency Financial First Aid Kit Today!
Get started today with your Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK), created by FEMA to help citizens protect their finances.
Download the EFFAK: Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) (.pdf)
[The EFFAK info at the link is updated to 2015] You can download the document as a PDF and use it for your immediate needs, or use it as a template to create your own financial preparedness kit.
Whichever you choose to do, ensure that each family member is accounted for in your records and that you review this kit every 6 months to one year, to ensure that you are keeping your financial preparedness kit up to date with your changing financial situations.
READY.gov also provides excellent resources for safeguarding your finances and important records. Get started today by following the steps below:
- Identify your important documents and place them in a safe space: You can use the Safeguarding Your Valuables (.pdf) activity and Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (.pdf) to help get you started (Additional EFFAK checklists and forms).
- Download phone applications that can help during emergencies: Use the FEMA phone app to access to disaster preparedness, response and recovery resources including disaster assistance.
- Enroll in Go Direct to minimize disruptions to receiving any federal benefits you may receive.
- Plan ahead of time to recover after a disaster! here is a handy resource to get you started: Recovery After Disaster (.pdf)
Additional tips for financial preparedness:
- If you store essential financial information, passwords, etc electronically, make a backup paper copy and/or create a backup on a thumbdrive that you can store with your EFFAK.
- Make copies of your important documents and your completed EFFAK and put them in a secure place, either at home in a protected area such as a fire/flood protected safe or at an off-site location such as a family member’s home, a bank deposit box, etc.
- Always ensure that at least one copy of your EFFAK and supporting papers is available to you, no matter the emergency. In the event that you are unable to access your papers at your bank, you’ll need another available resource that you can count on.
- Have a store of cash along with your EFFAK that’s appropriate for your family’s needs that can cover at least 3 days of emergency lodging, food, etc if you cannot return home.