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The Importance of Storing Documents in your 72 Hour Supplies

There are four areas of documents that you should consider when planning your 72 hour supplies. Those are a record of material possessions in the home, identification, cash and irreplaceable family mementos. Following a brief explanation of each of these subjects is a complete list of documents you should consider storing in your 72 hour kit.

Taking an Inventory of Your Home

In the event of a natural disaster or fire, you may find your home and everything in it badly damaged or destroyed. This is traumatic enough for any family, but if they don't have a photographic record of their possessions, they may find a battle for reimbursement with the insurance company even more horrific.

Barry and Lynette Crockett, co-authors of 72-Hour Family Emergency Preparedness Checklist, Family Emergency Plan, and A Year's Supply urge families use one of the following methods to keep track of items in the home:

  • Make a list of every item in your home and try to include serial or identification numbers, when and where purchased, the receipt and its estimated value.
  • Use a tape recorder and make an audio list
  • Supplement a written list with photographs of furnishings and other valuables in their normal setting in the home
  • Videotape a tour of your home and garage

After you have taken inventory, store one copy with your 72 hour supplies and then give a back-up copy with a relative or family friend (preferably in another town). Or, you could store the back-up copy in a safe deposit box; just make sure you keep a copy of the key in your 72 hour kit.

It's important that you make your inventory list as complete and well documented as possible. This will ensure a fast and fair settlement with the insurance company.


In an emergency situation, being able to prove who you are is critical for receiving help, both from government agencies and insurance companies. Some of the documents you should have copies of in your 72 hour kit include:

  • Social Security cards and/or numbers for each of your family members
  • Drivers license
  • Passport
  • Birth certificates

Again, it would be wise to have these in water-tight bags or containers and to also have another copy in a safe deposit box or in another town.


After a natural disaster such as an earthquake, hurricane or flood, many of the convenient ways we spend and get money no longer exist. Automatic teller machines, credit card networks, even the banks themselves are often inoperable. It is then that towns become "cash only" societies for goods your family may desperately need.

Having enough cash on hand to get you through the first 72 hours following a disaster will bring peace of mind to you and your family. Here are a few suggestions of storing money:

  • $100 - $200 in cash, small bills
  • Rolls of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies
  • Checking, savings and credit card numbers

Irreplaceable Family Mementos

Some of the worst things a family can lose in a disaster are those that can't be replaced: photo albums, family histories, journals, the list could go on. Chances are not everything that your family cherishes will fit into your 72 hour kit to be taken with you at a moments notice. There are some alternatives, however, that will bring you peace of mind in an emergency.

  • Make copies of photographs, pedigrees and personal histories and store them with a trusted relative or friend in another town
  • Store them in single location--in a closet or on a bookshelf near an exit, so if needed, they could be taken out with your 72 hour supplies
  • Store family mementos in a safe deposit box

A Complete List of Vital Documents as advised by Barry and Lynette Crockett in their book,

Family Emergency Plan

Household and place of business inventory (recorded using photographs, videotape, or stored on a database manager computer program).

  • Important information and records stored on computer back-up software
  • Duplicates of insurance policies (life, health, auto, home, hazard, etc.)
  • Mortgage documents
  • Real estate deeds, investments
  • Property settlement agreements
  • Title papers
  • Motor vehicle titles and bill of sale, serial or VIN numbers, driver's license numbers, registration, and plate numbers (including boats, RVs, etc.)
  • Wills and trusts
  • Safe deposit box: location, number, inventory of contents, location of key, authorized persons to access box
  • Investment portfolio
  • Record of hard assets (precious metals, gems, collectibles, etc.) jewelry appraisals
  • Net worth statement
  • Stocks, bonds and other securities
  • Accounts receivable information
  • Purchase contracts
  • Other contracts
  • Bank loan agreements, other obligations
  • Bank, checking, savings account numbers or certificates
  • Credit card accounts (company and account numbers
  • Permanent tax records
  • Important guarantees, warranties and sales receipts
  • Voter registration
  • Family health and medical records
  • Employee benefits information
  • Letter of instruction in case of death
  • Funeral and burial plans (pre-arranged)
  • Name, address, phone number of attorney, accountant, executor, trustees, stockbroker and insurance agents
  • Photocopy of documents carried in wallet or purse
  • Location of spare house and car keys
  • Birth, marriage, and death certificates
  • Divorce and separation decrees
  • Adoption and custody decrees
  • Citizenship papers
  • Military papers
  • Passports, visas
  • Social security card (or card numbers)
  • School transcripts, diplomas
  • Patents, copyrights
  • Original manuscripts
  • Employment records
  • Membership cards or records
  • Important church records
  • Cherished family recipes
  • Cherished family Photos, slides, videotapes, etc.
  • Important books
  • Journals, diaries, scrapbooks, etc.
  • Person and family histories,
  • Genealogies