Here we are at Day 8. We’ve started a work area, gotten some training scheduled, are on our way with hydration and nutrition concerns, and are even getting a better idea how to get home and shelter concerns in the case of an emergency. These are all pre-event mitigations, meaning that during an emergency event, we are handling things before, and during the event, which is good. That whole ‘ounce of prevention’ thing.
Now, it’s time to make some post-event plans. These are things you can do before an event, that will help you recover after an event has occurred.
Task: Back up important documents onto a flash drive.
This task was detailed in my article on personal documentation in a 72 hour kit. It is important enough to bear repeating here, and we’ll use it in a slightly different way. Here are the steps:
- Go to http://www.axantum.com/axcrypt/ and download a program called Axcrypt. This is an encryption software that will protect your files from unauthorized use. If you are not willing to do this part, do not do the rest of this task.
- Learn how to use Axcrypt. It should be very easy, as the program integrates with your right-click menu.
- Go to this page and retrieve the list of recommended documents.
- Begin digitally duplicating these documents into a specific folder on your computer. This can be a photograph of a document (such as a driver’s license) or a scanned copy of larger documents. Some items, such as insurance policies, may be available in PDF format from the company supplying the service. Ensure the document type you are saving as is a common file type, able to be read by any computer. PDF and JPG are very good options for universally reading them. For text you are hand entering, RTF is a very accessible format.
- As these items are saved into the folder, use Axcrypt to encrypt them and shred the original. Use an appropriate password for every document. Typically, different passwords are best, but this may be too cumbersome for this activity.
- Find a few old USB drives (you know you have some of these laying around). Clear it, format it, etc to make it empty.
- Copy the ENCRYPTED files onto these drives.
- Put the drives in a ziplock bag or other small waterproof container.
- If you have an emergency kit, put a drive in it.
- Identify a trusted family member or friend who lives slightly remotely from you. If this is one of your alternate emergency locations, all the better.
- Give them a copy of this drive when you see them next. Explain what it is, and ask them to store it in a safe place. Offer to do the same for them.
Some helpful hints:
- Do not store this in a safety deposit box. Some emergencies see bank closures or limited bank access. Also, some states have very opportunistic safety deposit box forfeiture rules. While the contents may be difficult to unravel when encrypted, a determined entity may be able to do so. At the very least, you may not have access to it.
- Make a recurring task every 6 months, or as necessary, to update these documents. Things like insurance can change a couple times a year. Having this information up to date is important.
- Use this drive ONLY for the task at hand. Some people use thumb drives extensively in the workplace. This is not an opportunity to dual-use an item like this.
- Estimated cost: $0.
- Estimated time: 60 minutes.
- Accomplishment: Back ups of important documents.
- Logging family food preferences (5 min)
- Securing 2 liter water bottles and storing water. (5 min)
- Making notes on daily drive routes. (5 min)