Jeanette A. Tucker | 6/11/2005 2:05:49 AM
Hurricanes, fires, tornadoes and other disasters can strike suddenly – damaging or destroying your home and property, cutting your flow of wages and income or ruining valuable personal and financial records.
An LSU AgCenter specialist says an "evacuation box" can be one way to at least protect your valuable paperwork.
"Be prepared for disasters by assembling an ‘evacuation box’ of important papers to grab in the event of an emergency," advises LSU AgCenter family economics specialist Dr. Jeanette Tucker.
The specialist recommends placing important papers in sealed, waterproof plastic bags and storing them in a durable, sealed box.
"Keep the box somewhere in your home where you can get to it easily. Then if you must evacuate, keep the box with you at all times," Tucker says, adding, "Do not leave it in your unattended car."
The LSU AgCenter expert says the box should be large enough to hold several critical items:
–Traveler's checks or enough cash to cover expenses for a few days, plus a few rolls of quarters. Power outages can render ATM, debit and credit cards unusable, so you want to be certain to have sufficient cash or traveler’s checks on hand. Change also is important for vending machines, making calls from public phones, using coin-operated laundry facilities and other things that may be a part of your evacuation process.
–A list of emergency phone numbers that includes doctors, financial advisers, clergy, reputable repair contractors and family members who live outside of your area.
–Copies of important prescriptions for medicines and eyeglasses, plus copies of children's immunization records.
–Health, dental or prescription insurance cards or numbers.
–Copies of your auto, flood, and renter's or homeowner’s insurance policies (or at least policy numbers) and a list of insurance company telephone numbers.
–Copies of other important financial and family records. These should include deeds, titles, wills, stock and bond certificates, home inventory, birth and marriage certificates, passports, relevant employee benefits documents, the first two pages of the previous year's federal and state income tax returns and so forth. Originals, other than wills, should be kept in a safe deposit box or at another location.
–Backup copies of computerized financial records.
–A list of bank account, loan, credit card, driver's license, investment account (brokerage and mutual funds) and Social Security numbers.
–Keys to your safe deposit box.
–Negatives for irreplaceable personal photographs.
"Some planning and a few relatively simple preparations can prevent the unexpected from becoming a harsh financial reality," Tucker says.
For additional information about family financial matters, contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit www.lsuagcenter.com.
Contact: Jeanette Tucker at (225) 578-5398 or Jtucker@agcenter.lsu.edu