You can never plan for a catastrophe, but you can lessen the impact it has on your life. Should a freak thunderstorm, wind storm, tornado, blizzard, fire, or anything else threaten to ruin your ability to proceed with your life in a natural way you should be prepared. The weather will be chill, the water and snow will dry, and you’ll be left to pick up the pieces and make them fit again. With a little preparation, your ability to re-acclimate to your life will be less problematic than it could be.

Waterproof Bag

A waterproof bag won’t protect your stuff from a fire, but it will for most everything else. Get one. Nothing too huge, but something around the size of your bookbag or slightly smaller will suffice. Keep it near the door and relatively hidden. No need for too many folks to know where you keep your most intimate documents. Once you get it and figure out where you’re gonna put it, though, what’s going to go into it?

Driver’s License/ID/Passport/Social Security Card

Your driver’s license most likely is on you or in your purse at all times. Good. Any other forms of identification should be easily accessible and in one place. When tragedy strikes, you’ll have to move fast and you don’t want to be grabbing for the one thing you need above all else when your life is in danger.

Birth Certificate

Is your original birth certificate at your parents’ place? At some point you should grab it and keep it with you. If you don’t have a filing cabinet to put it in, grab a manila envelope and a couple pieces of cardboard. Place it between them and slide the whole thing in the envelope. Store the envelope with your other identification documents.


It’s rough being broke, but an ATM run may not be in the cards when the sky is trying to rip your home to pieces. Take at least $50 and set it aside in your emergency sack as your emergency cash fund. Then…don’t touch it. It’s hard, but so is escaping impending doom with your life.

Pictures of Your Most Costly Possessions

Even if you don’t have insurance, you should have pictures of everything in your place worth more than $50. If you have renter’s insurance (a good idea, to be sure), take down any serial numbers and/or save any receipts. The more you have to prove ownership of sentimental items, the less time you’ll have to spend on the phone with the insurance company proving it.

Ten Phone Numbers of People You Trust

Cell phones are nifty devices that save oodles of personal information — but so is your brain. With the cell phone’s invention came the idea that you don’t need to memorize everyone’s phone number anymore. Write down the phone numbers of your ten most trusted people and include that in your emergency sack.

Extra Leash for Dog

If you have a dog, you should have more than one leash. You should also keep that leash someplace readily available — like in your emergency sack. Wrangling a panicked dog is hard enough with a leash. Imagine it without one.

Spare Home/Car keys

Put them in the emergency sack. Right now. Do it.

Change of Clothes

If you’re lucky, you’re only out of your place for a couple of hours. Sometimes it’s months. If you have at least one decent change of clothes, you’re covered for at least one day to go clothes shopping.

Extra Toiletries

Unless you want to use your little brother’s AXE or your sister’s too-minty toothpaste, it might be a good idea to keep some extra toiletries in your emergency sack. A bit more seriously though, any time you are displaced from your home, it could be a traumatic event and may take some time to recover. You can aid in that recovery immediately by keeping small amenities that you use everyday — like your favorite toothbrush or deodorant — to give you a sense of normalcy in the chaos.

Have any more suggestions? Feel free to share them below!

Related: Keep a Spare Car Key in Your Wallet

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