Protect your Documents

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Documents That Should Be Protected

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: Deeds, titles to vehicles and boats, divorce records and adoption papers, passports, military records, living wills, powers of attorney, child custody papers.

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 and the first two pages of your latest income tax forms.

Personal items: Birth certificates, naturalization papers, marriage licenses, children's immunization records, pet vaccination records, negatives - in protective plastic sleeves - or computer disks of photographs that would be impossible to replace.

Insurance: Originals or copies of your insurance policies, including vehicles or boats, health and life, telephone numbers of your agents, appraisals of valuable items like jewelry, art or antiques, home improvement records, a written description of your home's contents, and if you have them, videotapes or photographs of the possessions.

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.