Storing important papers

Among the important items to protect during a storm are your documents. Have a reliable system for storing important documents even without the threat of a hurricane. If possible, documents that can't be replaced should be stored in a bank safety deposit box.

Other documents can be replaced but take time and effort to do so. These can be stored at home in a rugged, waterproof container.

Among the documents and records you should protect:

 Ownership documents, such as your warranty deed or car title.

 Lease agreement/mortgage.

 Proof of occupancy, such as a utility bill.

 Bond and stock issues.

 Birth certificates.

 Wills, passports, Social Security cards.

 Banking information.

Gather originals and make copies of:

 A document showing the name of your insurance company and your insurance policy number. It could be the insurance binder or your last bill.

 The name, address and phone number of your insurance agent. List of important phone numbers.

 Receipts or canceled checks for home furnishings to help you document your losses on claims for insurance and tax deductions.

 Photographs of each room of your house.

 A document that shows the name, address and phone number of your mortgage holder and your account number.

 Medical records, such as vaccination histories.

 Any other documents that show proof of value, such as a recent assessment of your home.

 Photocopy all cards you keep in your wallet: driver's license, credit cards, medical insurance cards, ATM cards. On the photocopies of your bank cards, write the phone number for reporting a lost card.

 Scan the copies into a computer and store on a disc. Or get two 8-by-11 manila envelopes. Put the originals in one envelope and photocopies in the other. Keep the envelope with originals with you during the storm. Give the sealed envelope with the copies to a trustworthy friend or relative.