My Writing > One minute you have it, the next it's gone

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.




birth certificates


social insurance                                                                                           

marriage licence

drivers’ licences

credit cards

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 backup

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:


Financial Records


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.


Tax returns

Important if you want to prove amounts carried forward or if you e-filed, the original receipts for audit.


Business records

Invoices, purchases, customer files, capital asset files, banking, day timers, budgets and plans, financial statements.


Other Records


Warranty papers

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.





Eileen Reppenhagen lives in Tsawwassen, BC


Eileen coaches, trains and speaks to taxpayers about medical expenses, personal tax credits, record-keeping, and how to grow your net worth.



Eileen Reppenhagen




Copyright 2003-2018  Eileen Reppenhagen   Site Accessibility    Privacy policy    More legal stuff    Contact

Disclaimer: This website does not research or endorse any product or service appearing in links or advertisements anywhere on this site. 

I consider requests to update a particular page if there's an error or new information worth adding.

CRA has updated their website. If the link has a note that it's been archived, it's likely in their new Folio's or will be in the Folio's in the future.

If someone were to make an offer to purchase the rights to TaxDetective (Trademarked in Canada), I'm open to offers. 

Please do NOT rely on or use the information on this website as a basis for a course of action without obtaining appropriate professional advice, in writing. 

All Intuit®, QuickBooks® Software,Quicken® Software and Profile® Software trademarks remain the property of their respective holders, and are used only to describe the products discussed on this website.

Any usage of the above-mentioned marks anywhere in this website in no way indicates any relationship, endorsement, or affiliation with the holders of said trademarks other than specifically stated, for example, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor.