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A grab and go file
Berny Unruh

When storms roll in and it is necessary for the family to head to the basement or to a storm shelter, I always have a fleeting thought, “Do I have everything I need?” I always grab my purse, a jacket and my shoes but I wonder if I should grab something else. Sometimes storms allow us only a few moments to take cover but not enough time to gather important documents or items. 

If you have already prepared a “grab and go file” of important documents – Good for you! But where is it stored? If it is in your home office or on the second floor of your home, that may not be the best place. Consider moving it to the basement and putting it on a high shelf in a secure place. It will be one less thing you need to find on your way to taking cover. 

Your “grab and go file” should contain: 

- Copies of birth certificates, driver’s license and social security cards for the entire family. 

- Copies of passports, marriage certificates and similar documents.

- Copies of insurance cards, policies or proof of coverage and contacts.

- A copy of your household inventory.

- Bank account numbers and contact information

- Front and back copies of your ATM and credit cards

- Cash to cover immediate expenses.

- A key to your safe deposit box.

Many of these pieces of information could be scanned and saved on a flash drive or memory card instead of storing paper copies of the information.

Having a grab and go file is just part of a complete emergency plan. Back up your computer regularly and store a copy of the backup information off-site. Have a communication plan for your family. Collect and assemble a disaster supply kit, including a portable generator, water, and medications. Lastly, practice and maintain your plan.

Berny Unruh is the Family and Community Wellness Agent for the Cottonwood Extension District.  She can be reached at 785-628-9430 or at