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Grab-and-go box

Brenda Procter, M.S., State Specialist and Instructor, Personal Financial Planning, University of Missouri Extension


If you live in an area prone to natural disasters that could require evacuation, consider creating a grab-and-go box. Use a durable, sealed waterproof box or backpack. This box should contain copies of everything that is in your emergency file, and add other important papers:

  • Medical prescriptions, including eyeglasses
  • Copies of children’s immunization records
  • Copies of all insurance cards and policies
  • Copies of the back and front of your credit cards
  • Cash or traveler’s checks for several days of living expenses (credit cards may not work)
  • Rolls of quarters (banks might not be open for several days)
  • List of bills and when they are due
  • Copies of the tax form 1040 for the last three tax years
  • Copies of your home inventory list, which should include everything you own with serial numbers and purchase prices as well as photographs and/or video of these items
  • Copies of any wills, durable powers of attorney, deeds, marriage and birth certificates, divorce papers, military discharge papers, etc.


The list of information in the grab-and-go box is so extensive because this box is meant to help your family rebuild if your house has been destroyed or you don’t have access to your house for a long period of time.


This list may not have everything you need. Spend some time thinking about the needs your family might have. If multiple generations live in your household, be sure to include everyone in the planning. Also, consider developing evacuation plans. If you have to leave your house for several days, are there relatives you could stay with? If a disaster prevented you from reaching the local pharmacy, do you know where the nearest location would be?


Since this container has everything you need to rebuild your life, be sure to store it in a secure place in your home. If you’re forced to leave your home, be sure to keep your grab-and-go box with you at all times. Identity theft is a real concern in a natural disaster as people’s lives are upended. Shelters and/or roads become crowded, so safeguard your grab-and-go box during your stay.



Tucker, J.A., Preparing your Evacuation “Grab and Go” Box, LSU Ag Center, 2006, retrieved December 10, 2008, from


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Last update: Tuesday, October 11, 2011