University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

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Publication #FAR9009

Disaster Planning: Important Papers1

Donna Davis2

As we were made keenly aware this fall, disasters are a part of life. While in Florida we were dealing with hurricanes, throughout the country people faced disaster, whether hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, fire, or a terrorist attack. Floridians became familiar with the hurricane preparedness strategies, including taking care of their property and how to handle life without electricity for prolonged periods. What many people didn't realize is that financial preparation is another key to survival and to cleaning up after the event.

To start, it's important to know where your family records and valuable documents are and be able to pick them up and take them with you, if you must evacuate. Purchase a packet, folder, briefcase or other carrying case for these important documents. These documents include birth, adoption, marriage, and death certificates, as well as passports, deeds, leases, insurance policies, Social Security records, contracts, wills, trusts, and ownership papers.

If you have access to a scanner, you may want to scan your papers and documents to a computer disk and keep it in the carrying case. Leave the original in a separate storage place. You may also want to videotape the contents of your home to supplement your household inventory. If you use a software package to keep track of your finances, you may want to keep a back-up copy with your "on the go" papers. These quick steps can save valuable time when picking up the pieces of an unexpected disaster.

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

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This document is FAR9009, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 55. Original publication date December 2007. Revised December 2007. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Donna Davis, senior producer, Family Album Radio, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.