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Organize a grab-and-go file

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you became a victim of a natural disaster, terrorist attack, fire, or other unexpected event? Would you know what to grab if you only had minutes to escape your home?

The plans you've made in advance and what you choose to take with you will influence how quickly you rebound from disaster (whether you have the information to file claims, contact information for accounts, etc.).

Grab-and-go file

National agencies that work with disasters recommend gathering important items in a file case or binder. Store it in a place where all family members can quickly grab it and go. Make sure that your file case or binder is small enough to easily fit in a backpack or other small travel bag and keep it in a waterproof container. The information below should be in your grab-and-go file. Download and fill out the Roadmap for important papers to help keep organized.


Electronic grab-and-go file

If you have access to a secure server and internet connection, make an electronic grab-and-go file. First, scan your official documents to make electronic copies. Include an electronic copy of your completed Roadmap for important papers.

Then send these documents to yourself in an email so that you can access them from any internet-connected computer. Another option is to save copies of these documents on a USB drive and then store it somewhere outside your home that is secure (e.g. a locked cabinet at your work, with a trusted friend or family member, etc.). A third option is to save a folder with a cloud storage service or online file storage provider.

Remember that you will still want to store original hard copies of your documents in a safe place.

Rosemary K. Heins, Extension educator emeritus in family resource management

Revised by Sara Croymans, Extension educator in family resiliency

Reviewed in 2023

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