15 Billion Reasons Why

Think you got all your bases covered? Confident you'll escape any potential disasters? You may want to think again. In 2017 alone the U.S. experienced 15 different "billion dollar" weather and climate events according to a report from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information. This included several hurricanes, tornado outbreaks and wildfires. That doesn't include the devastating wildfires of 2018.

That is reason enough to have a plan to safeguard critical personal and financial documents.

Experts advise to think of your preparation in two parts: Safeguarding original documents and creating digital copies that can be accessed from anywhere, said Leonard Wright, a CPA. He's also co-author of "Disasters and Financial Planning" a free digital consumer guide from the American Institute of CPAs, the American Red Cross and the National Endowment for Education.

Having everything in one place makes it easy to grab documents quickly in an evacuation. You might secure those originals in a fireproof, watertight safe in your home, or off-site in a safe deposit box, said wright. 

Fireproof bags are an excellent option. They provide protection from fire as well as water damage and are very lightweight and portable, unlike most heavy safes.

By creating digital copies to store in the cloud you ensure you will still have access to important records if a disaster occurs while you're away from home, you aren't immediately able to return after a disaster or your originals sustain damage.

Not all cloud storage services are equally secure so be sure to look for one that encrypts your data, Wright said.

The bottom line is that when disaster strikes you want to be prepared. Take those steps to prepare you, your loved ones and your valuables today.