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Preppers are exceptionally good at making lists – and even keeping lists of lists. We have a copious amount of shelf-stable food, medical supplies, and ammo stacked on shelves and inventoried. But one thing preppers frequently forget about is important documents. We or our loved ones may need them both during and after an SHTF scenario.
When making a prepping plan, there are numerous things at the top of the “to do” list. And for most of us, it is unlikely that putting together a binder of files, forms, and photos will be as high a priority as Band-Aids, beans, and bullets. But, they should come in a close second.
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What Documents Are Important For Preppers To Stockpile?
While the exact documents each prepping family may need may vary, there are multiple common types of information and papers that truly need to be preserved. During or after an SHTF, you may need to prove your identity or prove that your children actually belong to you.
Any type of document, address book, map, mortgage, insurance, and banking information you may need during and after a disaster should be copied and kept in a manner that protects it from fire and the elements.
Should the SHTF scenario involve a solar flare, power grid down incident, or a natural disaster like a flood, tornado, or fire, paper or digital records of any document that you need might be destroyed. Here are the five types of important documents you need to preserve.
If you are away from home when disaster strikes, you may need to prove to some type of governmental authority or a citizen band standing on the county line that you indeed live in the area and should be permitted to pass.
In addition to keeping your driver’s license, CCW card, Social Security card and similar commonly used proof of identification documents always on your person, they should also be copied and placed in a binder that is stored in the family safe.
Any card you use to access locations that you may need to go to post-disaster should also be kept in this same binder. Typical identification cards of this type include: parking tags or stickers, employment identification card, group or association membership card, etc.
Family Connection Documents
Important documents for preppers are not only of the government or bank issue type. In our modern world, more folks keep images of their loved ones in a photo app on their phone than actually printed out in their wallets. If you are separated from your children or other loved ones, it would be foolish to depend on a cellphone to share their likenesses.
There is also a real possibility that your children could be shuttled into a temporary shelter or similar type of post-disaster government encampment. To remove them from such a place may require the presentation of a birth certificate, adoption papers, custody papers, or similar parental identification.
Let’s also not assume that you or even your spouse will survive the SHTF event or make it home to your children. If you work away from home (and as a prepper you should really rethink that), who will they be released to from school or go to for aid?.
Even though schools keep paperwork on file for authorized family or friends to pick up your children when you cannot, those types of documents are stored in the building’s main office. During an emergency scenario, the students may have been moved to a nearby evacuation location with just a teacher holding a whistle and attendance roster. Although school emergency policies vary, I have witnessed this type of scenario play out during 9/11, bomb threats, and weather-related early releases.
Providing documentation of a familial connection to adult and especially elderly loved ones is highly recommended as well. Checking a loved one out of a hospital, nursing home, or similar type of care facility will most assuredly require proof that you have the authority to do so.
If your spouse is unconscious at a hospital, staff will require proper documentation for you to make medical decisions upon their behalf or even sit at their bedside.
To establish a family connection to a loved one, keeping a copy of your marriage license is also highly recommended. A fingerprint ID card with a photo of each family member along with their fingerprints is another way to help prove a family relationship.
Keeping a detailed medical record for each loved one may help prevent improper emergency care during a disaster – or alert first responders of a chronic existing condition the loved one has that should be taken into consideration quickly – such as diabetes and food allergies.
In addition to keeping an immunization record and a medical history record for all loved ones stored in a safe or fireproof box, consider keeping extra copies of these vital documents in your bug out bag, get home bag, purse, kid’s backpack, and in grandma’s dresser at the nursing home. Some folks with diabetes and other conditions are now getting discreet tattoos on the underside of their wrist so their crucial health information will always be readily accessible.
Keeping paper copies of wills, medical power of attorney papers, burial instructions, and medical insurance plans should also be included in your medical records prepping binder.
Money may be worth nothing during or even a long time after the SHTF, but you still want to be able to prove that any money own that is kept in a bank is yours, just as you need to be able to produce documentation related to your mortgage, rental agreement, insurance of all types, and vehicle registration.
Property and income tax documents going back several years should also be stored safely in case they are needed pre or post-SHTF disaster. Proving that you do not owe the government a single dime may also be valuable information to possess during a long-term disaster, especially in a grid down scenario.
Any paperwork pertaining to a pension plan or social security payments also belong in a financial records collection. Bank statements dating back at least a year and always kept current should also be stored safely among the prepping documents binders.
Make an inventory list of all the preps that you are stocking by category – and then a master inventory list. This detailed inventory should be updated monthly so the family knows exactly what items are stored, how many exist of each, and where all of the items are located.
You can use a color coding system on storage totes that correspond with the inventory lists to help loved ones find exactly what they need during a disaster situation. Possible prepper inventory category lists include: medical, food, weapons, camping gear, fuel, clothing and blankets, and maps.
Organization Is Key
Do NOT just toss papers inside of a lockbox and assume they will be sorted out later as needed. There will be enough to focus on during an SHTF event. Picking through a big stack of dog-eared papers should not be one of them. Use divider tabs in the prepper binders and label what each one contains on the front and back covers as well as down the spine of the binding.
Even young children who cannot yet read should be taught where to go to find important papers their caregivers may need. It will be enough that the child knows where to find the paperwork and how important it is that they share it with someone they trust or first responders who come to help them when disaster strikes.
Maps, Locations, And Directions
Preppers already know that their cellphones, internet, and GPS units may not work during or after a disaster. Keeping good old-fashioned paper maps stored in a binder alongside addresses and directions to reach loved ones or other important locations, cannot be recommended highly enough … especially if you have children.
If you and your spouse do not return home, the children should be taught when and how to go find help. Do not expect your children to remember how to get to Aunt Jane’s house – especially on foot. Keep a binder that can be used by anyone in the family to find their way where they need to go to connect with other loved ones or to find aid during an emergency situation.
How Should Prepper Documents Be Stored?
Keeping paper copies inside of organized binders that are stored in a safe or fireproof box as stated above is but one of many options for the entire preparedness records collection.
Think about the rule of redundancy we preppers are so fond of when making copies of vital records. Yes, store them in binders in a safe, but also store the same information on jump drives kept inside of a Faraday cage, and in a waterproof survival cache buried nearby and/or along routes frequently traveled as well.
You do not want to store the prepper documents anywhere they could easily be seen or stolen for identity theft protection reasons. Keeping essential identity and medical records in a prepper bag or kid’s backpack is fine (and recommended as noted above) but do not stockpile your Social Security card or bank records in this same manner.
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