Protect Your Documents

You should take a few minutes to find and safeguard things like deeds, titles, and birth certificates, documents that will be difficult or expensive to replace.

If you live in an evacuation zone or mobile home, you should have these in a waterproof box that you can quickly grab on the way out. You'll want to keep these with you.

But even if you don't evacuate, it's a good idea to put these things in a home safe or at least a strong, fireproof box.

Legal Papers

  • Child custody papers
  • Deeds
  • Divorce records and adoption papers
  • Living wills
  • Military records
  • Passports
  • Powers of attorney
  • Titles to vehicles and boats

Financial Documents

  • Stock and bond certificates
  • Numbers of brokerage and bank accounts and credit cards
  • A backup computer disk if you use financial management software
  • First two pages of your latest income tax forms

Personal Items

  • Birth certificates
  • Children's immunization records
  • Marriage licenses
  • Naturalization papers
  • Negatives - in protective plastic sleeves - or computer disks of photographs that would be impossible to replace
  • Pet vaccination records


  • Appraisals of valuable items like jewelry
  • Art or antiques
  • Home improvement records
  • Originals or copies of your insurance policies, including:
    • Health
    • Life
    • Vehicles or boats
  • Telephone numbers of your insurance agents
  • Videotapes or photographs of the possessions (if you have them)
  • A written description of your home's contents

Safe Deposit Box

If you opt for a safe deposit box, consider a bank that is not in a flood zone or an area likely to flood from low-level Category 1 or 2 storms.

If you don't want a safe deposit box, gather these documents and put them in sealed plastic bags in a secure, waterproof container.