Blog: Can We Have Some Order Here?
Your Emergency File
No one likes thinking about the bad things that can happen in life -- getting sick or hurt, having a loved one die, experiencing a theft, or finding that a disaster has destroyed everything you own. And while being prepared won't lessen the shock and grief of an emergency situation, it can certainly help you get your life back on track quicker and easier.
Making It A Priority
If you haven't already created an "emergency reference file" for your family, move this to the top of your to-do list (right up there with creating a household inventory and ensuring that your will is updated!) This is one of those "worry about it now so you won't have to worry later" type projects -- you probably won't access this file often, but you'll be glad to have it when you need it.
So what do you put in an "emergency file?" Your emergency file should contain all of the most important information about your life -- your finances, legal obligations, insurance coverage, health history, and personal data. Anything and everything you might need to access during a crisis. But you only want to include only the essentials -- like a distilled-down version of your filing cabinet, without the clutter! The organizational system you use is up to you (a binder with divider tabs for each section, an accordion file, or a file box with a lid and a handle) -- just as long as it's portable. And be sure to keep your emergency file stored within easy reach -- you need to be able to "grab and go" if something unexpected happens.
Calling In The Red Cross
]When a disaster strikes, the first people on the scene are usually the Red Cross -- bringing in supplies, providing aid, and helping people to put their lives back in order. Think of your emergency file as your own personal Red Cross volunteer, there to help you regain control during chaotic and difficult times. However, for this volunteer to be of any use to you, you must provide him or her with the right tools and information up front. So let's get down to brass tacks -- a discussion of the actual documents that should be kept in your emergency file. Think about the paperwork you would want on hand during a serious emergency or when trying to recover after a disaster. What kind of information would the police and hospital, insurance agents and mortgage company, banks and financial institutions ask you for? Your goal is to bring these items together into one organizational system:
1) Vital Records
- copies of birth certificates and adoption records for each family member
- copies of marriage licenses, drivers licenses, and passports for each
- copies of all property and auto records -- deeds, leases, titles, etc.
- copies of all property and umbrella insurance policies
- document locator (tells where originals and off-site paperwork are stored)
2) Financial Information
- list of all bank account numbers
- copies of the front and back of each credit card
- list of all investment account numbers
- list of all retirement and pension account numbers
- detailed information about any current income and benefits
- detailed information about any outstanding mortgages/loans
3) Medical Information
- copies of health/life/disability insurance cards and policies
- medical history for each family member
- list of medications and prescriptions, including dose and pharmacy
- details about any ongoing medical conditions and treatments
Remember that most of these documents will be copies -- original deeds, birth certificates, insurance policies, etc. should be stored in a fire safe or safe deposit box, as a back up. And be sure to let the important people in your life like family, close friends, and professional advisors (those who might need to access the information in your file if something happened to you) know where it is stored and what it contains. Just a little bit of preparation can make a huge difference in case of emergency.
- friends and family to reach in case of emergency
- neighbors who have access to your house
- financial institutions, insurance companies, and legal advisors
- physicians, specialists, hospitals, and other healthcare providers
- employers and benefits administrators
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posted on: 6/24/2010 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips
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Can We Have Some Order Here?
by Ramona Creel
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I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!
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