If you spend time in Tornado Alley, on the Gulf Coast, or anywhere in fire-prone areas of California or Oregon, you probably have a "go bag" ready to go in case of emergency. Its contents are likely some food, water, clothes, first-aid supplies, a tarp, a radio, and copies of important identification.
You’re not alone. FEMA’s 2020 National Household Survey found that 81 percent of Americans have taken action and gathered supplies to last three days or more.
This is an encouraging data point, given the increasing risks that accompany climate change. But the documents you need in a pinch aren’t limited to one photo ID and a health insurance card.
In this digital age, go bags are going digital. Now it’s time to rethink how you store and protect the documents that act as a record of what you have and value most.
Beyond what you need on hand in a worst-case scenario, let’s consider how you can build a digital go bag that’s both easy to maintain and access, should the unexpected happen.
Before disaster strikes, choose a cloud-based vault
Assembling your traditional go bag, you might ask: Do I have the keys and supplies I’d need to exist outside my house or in my car in an emergency?
For your digital go bag, consider: If I couldn’t access the Internet, who would show up to assist me, and would they have access to the essential documents and information they need?
This might include your health insurance card, your medical power of attorney paperwork, any medical directives, or perhaps just the code to your home alarm system, so that a trusted neighbor could enter your home to feed your pets, if you can’t get home.
The key to creating a digital go bag is selecting one location – likely cloud-based – that the right people know how to access when they need to in order to help you manage your life and legacy.
Not sure what to look for in the right digital vault? These three features will keep your documents safe and accessible:
- Cloud storage: Access your documents anywhere at any time.
- Security: Strong privacy measures protect your documents from prying eyes.
- Mobile access: When you’re on the go, you need to be able to access documents from your mobile device.
These aren’t just bells and whistles: a well-designed digital go bag guarantees that you can quickly and securely reach the essential documents you need from anywhere with an internet connection.
Start small with the basics
The first items in your digital go bag can simply be photos or digital copies of everyday personal identification documents, for you and each member of your family:
- Drivers license or other photo ID
In an emergency (and every day), you should also have a digital version of relevant medical documents on hand, including your:
- Medical insurance card
- Covid-19 vaccination card
- Medical Allergy Identification card
- Copies of any current medical prescriptions
Because your digital go bag is not limited by the size of your backpack, you can also include a longer list of essential documents that help paint a fuller picture of your life and assets:
- Proof of insurance
- Financial statements and account contact information
- Social Security card
- Will and trust documents
- Powers of attorney
- Property deeds and leases
- Care directives
- Tax documents
- Birth certificate
- Adoption papers
- Your crypto’s location
Wondering whether you really need all these documents in your digital go bag? Let’s skip to the unthinkable for a moment: say you lose your house and all the documents stored there. How many of the items listed above would you lose access to and how many would you need to access to get back on your feet?
With all these stored in a cloud-based vault, you don’t have to rely on physical copies to demonstrate that you hold an insurance policy or wait for word from your lawyer to confirm the terms included in your living will.
With a digital go bag packed, you’re prepared for anything, anywhere
The past two years have been a wakeup call for many of us who had never personally been faced with a natural disaster or local epidemic. If you’ve already assembled a traditional go bag, you’ve taken steps toward greater peace of mind. When you get a head start on packing your digital go bag, you make it easier to navigate these worst-case scenarios.
While preparedness is on your mind, don’t hesitate to follow that instinct. This may mean scanning and including a few things in your digital go bag that are irreplaceable, like family photos, cherished letters, and yes, the VHS cassette where you captured the best of the ‘92 family reunion.
And just like a traditional go bag can help you survive a rough situation, a cloud-based go bag can jumpstart your recovery. Whenever you’re ready for them, your important documents will be waiting for you in the cloud.
A digital go bag won’t just come in handy in an emergency – it can also help you access essential information on the fly, whether you’re at the DMV or the doctor’s office.