Red File – Your Grab & Go Case for Emergency Situations
Print fact sheet (382 K PDF)
Devastating disasters like a flood are a vivid reminder of life’s uncertainty.
Have you ever wondered what you would do if you suddenly 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 house?
The plans you have made in advance and the items you decide to take with you will determine how quickly you are able to rebound from disaster (whether you have the information to file claims, contact information for accounts, etc.).
National agencies that work with such disasters recommend that important items be gathered together and kept in a file case, in a place where all family members can quickly “grab it and go.” Make sure that your file case is small enough to easily fit inside of a backpack or other small travel bag. The following information should be in your file case:
List of vital information such as:
- Contact information (family members, financial advisors, attorneys, accountants, bankers, employers, doctors, etc.)
- Insurance policy information
- Bank, credit union, and credit card account information
- Summary of vital information (personal, financial, property, etc.)
Use the Roadmap for Important Papers (279 K PDF) to help you organize this information.
You will need originals or photocopies of:
- Birth & marriage certificates and/or divorce decrees
- Social Security cards of household members
- Driver’s license & other wallet cards
- Will and/or trust documents; Powers of Attorney
- Recent income tax return
- Passports and/or other identity documents
- Military discharge papers
- List of your prescriptions – name of medication, dosage, pharmacy, etc.
You will also need:
- Safe deposit box keys and/or safe combination
- Computer user names & passwords; CD with relevant personal, financial, and legal files
- Some emergency cash
If you are have access to a secure server and internet connection, you could also make an electronic Red File. Scan your official documents to make electronic copies. You can then send these documents to yourself in an email so that you can access them from any internet-connected computer. You could also save copies of these documents on one or more CDs or USB drives and then store them somewhere outside your home that is secure (a locked cabinet at your work, with a trusted friend or family member, etc.). Whether you email or save the documents, include an electronic copy of your completed Roadmap for Important Papers. Also, remember that you will still want to collect original hard copy documents in a safe place.
Watch a Related Video:
Listen to the Related Audio:
"Do You Have a Grab & Go File?"
A ‘Grab and Go File’ is a collection of all the important papers and information that you can just pick up and leave with, if, for instance you had to evacuate your home.
Ready America — Department of Homeland Security
Rosemary Heins, Extension Educator- Family Resource Management
Reviewed March 2010 by Lori Hendrickson, Extension Educator – Family Resource Management
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