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Red file: your grab and go case for emergency situations

red-file.jpgMedia Contact: Catherine Dehdashti, University of Minnesota Extension, 612-625-0237,

ST. PAUL, Minn. (3/11/2011) --Devastating disasters like a flood are a vivid reminder of life's uncertainty. With the high likelihood of spring flooding in many areas, ask yourself if you would know what to grab if you only had minutes to escape from your home.

"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," said Rosemary K. Heins, a family resource management educator with University of Minnesota Extension.

National agencies that work with 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."

Heins recommends that the following 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.)

You will need originals or photocopies of:

  • Birth and marriage certificates and/or divorce decrees
  • Social Security cards of household members
  • Driver's license and 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 and passwords; CD with relevant personal, financial, and legal files
  • Some emergency cash

If you are able, one idea is to create an electronic document with your information and scan official documents to make electronic copies. You can then use a web-based email system to send attached documents to yourself so that you can access them from any internet-connected computer. You will still want to collect original copies of important documents in a safe place.

Media Contact: Catherine Dehdashti, U of M Extension, (612) 625-0237,

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