Build your own CRITICAL ITEMS BOX...
19 Jan 2004
So To Speak, a magazine for members of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, Published Online October 2004
Eileen Reppenhagen, Tsawwassen, British Columbia
Ah, the dilemma, what to keep, what to toss and what is important to keep safe in an emergency, be it flood, fire, hurricane or earthquake. You might have your emergency preparedness kit with blankets, food and water, but have you thought about your records? If you check your insurance policy, you will find that it requires that you do everything possible to mitigate a claim in the event of a loss.
Dishes, linens, clothing and sports gear can be replaced, but how many of the items listed below could you replace easily? At the top of my list is proving who you are, then the ability to contact family or friends. The fires in BC in the last few summers and the floods in North Vancouver motivated me to prepare a box of critical items I would grab if I only had minutes to evacuate.
Today I am reviewing the list after several hours assisting with sandbagging down at the foot of 16th Avenue, 3 blocks from where I live is flooded and there is another high tide and wind predicted for tonight.
Consider which of these items listed should be duplicated and kept in your safe deposit box or fire proof vault. As for storage of the BOX, given the risk of identity theft, consider where the box would not be likely to attract the attention of a thief.
These are the contents of my CRITICAL ITEMS BOX.
copies of all the cards in our wallets
Contacts (printout of my Microsoft Outlook address book)
Family, friends, business contacts, social contacts, suppliers, neighbours, professionals, schools, hundreds of contacts.
Emergency cash for groceries and gas in case the bank machines don’t work.
Purchase and sale documents – capital assets
Proof of ownership plus documentation about assets or investments you have sold. Capital losses carry forward for your lifetime, but you might require proof at the time you try to claim.
Video or photographs of your home and contents
Pictures assist with proof of ownership and listing contents in case of total loss.
Broker statements, Stocks and Bonds you don’t store at the Broker’s office
More proof of ownership of investments, RRSPs, etc. They could be your only proof.
Power of attorney
The right to act, in case someone important isn’t able to be there.
Insurance policies (life, fire, medical, business, disability)
The contact information is invaluable. The instructions on what to do and who to call are all on these papers. They provide proof that we have coverage.
It’s a good idea to keep wills in a safe place and have second copies.
Critical medical information and medication
Lists of medications, doctors, dentists, other health practitioners and their contact information can be vital information.
Negatives of photographs
You can always get new prints made.
It’s small, portable and costs a fortune to replace, especially if it’s not available anymore.
Data is portable and probably can never be replaced. Make regular backups and have a system. The premium solution is to pay for daily backup off-site. If I had time, I would take my computer because it takes days to set it all up again.
If you have an hour to evacuate, items to consider include:
Bank and credit card statements
More proof of what you own and owe.
Loans and mortgage documents, other important contracts
Proof of contractual arrangements can be important.
Important if you want to prove amounts carried forward or if you e-filed, the original receipts for audit.
Invoices, purchases, customer files, capital asset files, banking, day timers, budgets and plans, financial statements.
Provide a description and proof of ownership for insurance purposes.
Research, topics files
Clippings about topics of interest cannot be replaced; there will never be time. Quotes, humorous stories, support for opinions, inspiration and reference material.
Recipes, books, photographs, music, coins, jewellery, antique collections.
Everyone has small reminders of events, places, people and feelings.
Including letters, stories, journals, speeches and instructions on how to do something.
It only takes an hour or two to prepare your CRITICAL ITEMS box. Gather and organize what’s important to you. Consider what is valuable to you and the members of your family. Be responsible and mitigate your claim.
Don’t be a victim of ONE MINUTE YOU HAVE IT, THE NEXT IT’S GONE!
Eileen Reppenhagen lives in Tsawwassen, BC email@example.com
Eileen coaches, trains and speaks to taxpayers about medical expenses, personal tax credits, record-keeping, and how to grow your net worth.