Could You Be Ready to Evacuate Your Home at a Moments Notice? Tips to Prepare an Emergency Grab-and-Go File

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What would we take with us if our Mayor ordered a full community evacuation? Would you know where important papers or documents were located in your home? New Orleans residents were faced with these questions and many more. Prepare - create an Emergency-Grab-and-Go File.

As we have witnessed the devastation Katrina has caused, many of us have wondered what we would do if we were faced with the same situation. What would we take with us if our Mayor ordered a full community evacuation? Would you be able to make decisions as quickly as necessary? Would you know where important papers or documents were located in your home? New Orleans residents were faced with these questions and many more.

“Families should prepare for the worst and pray for the best,” says professional organizer Stephanie Calahan of Calahan Solutions, Inc. She suggests that creating an “Emergency Grab and Go File” is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that in times of stress, emergency or grief, you are not compounding the situation by not knowing where important documents and contact information are.

In the event of a death, to ensure that you and yours avoid the stress created by an estate that is left disorganized, with little instruction, below are some guidelines to help put affairs in order. To tailor the list to your specific situation, double-check with personal professionals to ensure all bases are covered for you or yours.

In case you, one, or both of your parents are physically, emotionally or mentally incapacitated, it's vital for at least one other person, be it friend or family member, to be knowledgeable about how to step in and run the household and business matters. Try to be matter-of-fact about this. It seems awful to even consider it, but having the systems and plans in place well ahead of a tragedy such as a serious illness or death will dramatically reduce the stress at an already very stressful time.

Items to Include in Your Grab-and-Go File:

Creating an emergency file can be a valuable source of information for family or friend, in need of information on your behalf. Store the contents in an area that has easy access. Some of this information can be in the form of business cards. Once you create it, let someone know it is there.

Legal Information

     -Copy of Living Will and location of original version

     -Copy of Will and location of original version

     -Power of Attorney Health Care

     -Power of Attorney Property

     -Details of Trusts/Judgments for and against You

     -Estate Arrangements

Identification Information

     -Social Security Card and Related Information

     -Birth and Death Certificates

     -Marriage and Divorce Documents

     -Education certificates, degrees, etc.

     -Copies of the front and back of all cards in family member’s wallets

Important Names and Contact Information

     -Name, Address, and Phone number of Your Nearest Relative or Friend

     -Doctors: Medical Doctor, Dentist, Chiropractor, etc.

     -Insurance Agency/Agent

     -Accountant or Bookkeeper

     -Investment Broker and Files Location

     -Insurance Details

Personal Information & Photos

     -Wedding or baby photos

     -Current photos of all family members

     -Important medical information such as allergies

     -Prescription medication you are on

Location of Important Documents not in the file

Location of Valuables

Employment and Benefit Information

     -Include names, numbers and contact information

     -Income Sources – from what location and frequency

Banking account numbers and contact information

     -Banking/Credit Union Information

     -Retirement Fund(s) Information

     -Investment Information

     -Savings Information

     -Mortgage Documents

Safe Deposit Box Location, Contents and Signers with Access Authority

     -Include official documentation of authority or copy

     -Fire Lock Box/Safe Deposit Box Inventory

Any Documents that would be difficult to replace

Tell a Friend or Family Member Where the Information is Located

Ensuring that you know where all of your important documents are in the event of an emergency will allow you to be in control of the situation and recovery from the emergency that much faster. If you would like more free ideas for how to make your home, work and life run with less stress, visit the Calahan Solutions, Inc. Web site at

For information: or

Phone: 309.825.7833

Fax: 309.422.7665

About Calahan Solutions and Stephanie L. H. Calahan

You Won't Have to Do it Our Way, Because We Help You Find YOUR Way!

Calahan Solutions, Inc. ( is a premier professional organizing and consulting firm, serving a national and local clientele in corporate settings, home-based businesses, and residential environments. Calahan Solutions, Inc. is a member of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers), NSGCD (the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization), NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) and the BBB (Better Business Bureau.)

Stephanie L. H. Calahan is a Professional Organizer and founder of Calahan Solutions, Inc. and - offering organization consulting for business, home and life. Visit for free tips, free organizing reports, downloads, organizing products and service offerings.


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Stephanie Calahan
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