Your 72 Hour Kit: Flash Drives and Document Storage
Why Wait Until It's Too Late?
In the event of an emergency there is some documentation that you would want to have readily available and readily visible. Some sort of photo ID might be a prime example. A map of the area could prove invaluable as would be a list of family phone numbers and contact information. Photos of your immediate family members could assist authorities and others in locating any of those members who might become separated from the rest of your group during the initial stages of the emergency.
The time to ready all of these papers, of course, is not during an emergency, but before it.
Other possible candidates for inclusion in this list of important documentation might incorporate bank and credit card information, copies of wills, lists of medications being taken, and insurance information. You might also consider such things as your
- Marriage License,
- Birth Certificates,
- House Mortgage,
- Vacation Home / Property Ownership,
- Automotive Ownership,
- Motor Home Ownership,
- Pictures of valuables being left at home,
- Jewellery Appraisals;
- Trailers, Snowmobiles, Boat Ownerships; and
- "Other" important family papers and records.
As can be seen, the list can be quite extensive, and most emergency preparedness organizations and survival experts, when providing guidelines, will have any number of suggestions to make in this regard. When it comes to 72 hour kits, however, weight and space limitations must always be considered.
Yet, there is very little if anything that needs to be eliminated from the list of documents that you wish to have preserved and protected. As has already been said, there are some documents that you will wish to have immediately on hand. Other things such as those invaluable family photos and other "memorabilia" are unlikely to play any role in sustaining you during that emergency. They may, however, be irreplaceable and well worth protecting and preserving in some manner.
The answer lies in those little devices popularly known as flash or thumb drives.
They eliminate the space problem. They eliminate the weight problem. Your 72 hour kit can easily accommodate a flash drive which will take up no more space than a small pen knife or a pair of nail clippers. They are that tiny. Yet, they are large in capacity. Newer models can now hold several gigabytes of information, meaning you could, if you wish, fill them with an entire encyclopaedia's worth of information and still have room to spare.
You will need a computer. You will need a scanner or a digital camera. And you will, of course, need that flash drive. After that it is relatively simple. If your photos and documents have not already been digitized you will need to
- Scan or photograph them using a digital camera. A scanner is the best option in most cases.
- The scanning or photographing has created digital files of the originals. These files need to be transferred to your computer where they can be organized and placed into folders. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for doing so. It is not difficult.
- Attach your thumb drive to one of the USB ports on your computer. Copy your completed files and folders onto that flash drive.
- Once you have verified that these newly transferred files are correctly in place, unplug the flash drive. It is now ready for inclusion in your 72 hour or emergency survival kit.
- Repeat steps three and four with additional drives if you wish multiple copies.
During the emergency, these photos and documents will be inaccessible to you, unless you happen to have notebook or other computer available to you, but the USB connection is a common one, and as soon as you do have access to a computer, those files will be accessible as well.
Similar results can be obtained using a computer disk, but disks are more prone to being scratched or damaged in other ways. As well, your little drive can be used multiple times, and, as the need to update files arise, you can do so with relative ease whenever you feel it appropriate to do so.
For added protection, you may wish to store your flash drive in a small, empty pill bottle or other waterproof container to further protect the information which has been placed upon it. That too is unlikely to take up much space within your 72 hour kit. Many flash drives now offer password protection, which will provide you with another degree of security.
The end result of this paperless paper storage is that, once done, you can preserve and protect all of the valuable documents to which you might have access. The need to pick and choose will have been eliminated.