29 items to pack in your financial emergency kit and bug-out bag

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As Hurricane Michael prepares to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle, hundreds of thousands of residents have been urged or ordered to evacuate.

It’s never a good idea to wait until the last minute to put together a bug-out bag. Delay too long and you’ll find the stores shelves empty!

Here’s what should be in your emergency survival kit

The Red Cross suggests you have the following 15 must-have items for your emergency survival kit:

Another addition you might consider to this list: Hand-crank flashlights and radios, or hand-crank devices so you can charge your cell phone even when there’s no power.

RELATED: How to prepare your business for a natural disaster

Most of us just need to do basic preparation. You don’t have to be into extreme theories or worry about the end of the world. Many times when the moment of need comes, it will be far less dramatic than you might imagine, but still really disruptive to your life.

Don’t forget about financial preparations!

Having your financial documents in a safe and remote place is really important to pick up the pieces later.

Below is a list of important documents you should try to take with you (based on guidance from the Insurance Information Institute and Red Cross).

  • Insurance policies (or any related/contact information you can find if you’re in a hurry)
  • Prescriptions and/or important medical records
  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • Mortgage info
  • Car registration
  • Passports
  • Drivers license or personal identification
  • Social Security cards
  • Recent tax returns
  • Employment information
  • Wills, deeds and recent tax returns
  • Stocks, bonds and other negotiable certificates
  • Bank, savings and retirement account numbers
  • Copies of your pet’s medical records
  • Any other identification/tags for your pets and/or pet carrier
  • A paper copy of a recent utility bill, school registration records or any other recent government document to further prove residence

In addition, you’ll probably also want to consider an external hard drive to back up your data. And to really have peace of mind when it comes to data, back it up twice by also uploading it to a free cloud service.

Think about the best ways to get in touch with loved ones

Communication with loved ones can be challenging during a natural disaster. Wired recommends the following:

  • Don’t call. Leave the lines open for first responders.
  • Text. Try using text messages rather than voice calls to avoid getting stymied by network congestion — the smaller data packets can often sneak through while the larger voice files get stuck.
  • Use apps. While cell networks and phone lines are generally limited to one communication protocol, apps like Twitter or Facebook Messenger can get your message through.

If you’re the loved one and people are trying to reach you:

  • Get to a hardwired data connection. If you’re in an impacted area, a cable Internet connection might be your best bet — these fatter pipes are made to handle larger surges of traffic. Plus, they have a decent track record of withstanding worst-case scenarios.
  • Think viral. Email your mom, update your Facebook status, tweet your condition and whereabouts. Whether you’re totally fine or in desperate need of help, let the viral nature of the Internet work for you.
  • Update your voicemail message. If you can make only one call, make it to your voicemail. Change your outgoing message, so when folks try to reach you and the call goes straight to voicemail, they still get updated on your status.

It’s no fun to be unprepared. These are simple things you can do that require minimal money and a minimal investment of time!

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