Society’s digital advancements have definitely made some parts of our lives easier. But when it comes to preparing for the worst, we have to take into consideration a period of time where you may not have a working cell phone, signal, internet connection, or electronic backups.
If you’re looking for a general emergency preparedness rule of thumb, it’s simply this: it’s important to be as prepared as possible for any situation — and that means having physical backups to make sure you always have access to the information you may need. No matter what type of disaster you’re preparing for, having physical copies can be more than simply handy. In some cases, they can be lifesaving.
Here are 7 tools and resources you should make sure to have in physical form, just in case you don’t have access to any working digital signal:
1. A map
The importance of having a map cannot be emphasized enough. GoogleMaps is handy and will help if you have service and a phone, but what if your phone breaks, or it gets lost, or cell service and internet go down? The list goes on, and a map is definitely a necessity. Make sure to have a map of your immediate location and state itself, although having a broader atlas wouldn’t hurt either. Keep in mind that dated editions or versions might not show fully accurate roads and landmarks, so try to have a more recent version if possible.
2. A compass
Having a compass isn’t any new type of survival suggestion, but it’s worth reiterating on this list too. The digital accessibility of today has made information, gadgets, and useful tools abundantly available — including compasses and other survival tools. IF you use the compass app on your phone, great. I’d still recommend having a physical one, though. Not only will a physical compass save your phone’s battery charge, but it will also always work. And that’s something a phone just won’t do.
3. A small collection of reference guides
There’s no way you can know everything — not even everything on a single subject or topic. Carrying a few small reference guides or books on important topics is a great idea for giving yourself a leg up in any survival scenario. It’s also highly beneficial to carry reference guides for areas you aren’t well-versed in. If you’re good at fishing, don’t bother with a fishing guide. Instead, invest in a guide about herbal medicine derived from commonly found plants or one about immediate first aid techniques for various types of injuries.
4. A list of medications, prescriptions, allergies, or other important health information that you may store on your phone or computer
Immediate and tangible medical information will come in handy in an emergency scenario where you’re able to escape to an unaffected location. If you have all of your prescriptions and medical info in hand, you’ll be able to get true medical care much more easily. It can even be lifesaving in emergency situations, making all the difference if you or a member of your family is incapacitated and needs immediate medical care away from home.
5. Phone numbers, addresses, and other contact information for family, doctors, disaster relief companies, etc.
Having a list of contacts and safe spaces, both personal and professional, will help prepare you for any scenario where your phone (and all of the info on it, including your contacts) is out of the picture. It’s very unlikely that you’ll have all of your friends, family, or any potentially helpful contacts’ numbers memorized. Maybe it’s also unlikely that you’ll need all of those phone numbers, but if you’re in a situation where you do need one and you don’t have it? You’d be kicking yourself. Be prepared!
6. Important documents like birth certificates, house deeds, social security cards, and more
While this may take some more preparation, it’s a good idea to have all important documentation you may need in one general space. It will make it easier to gather that information in case of an impending emergency where you may have some advanced notice (albeit maybe a short one), like a wilfire or flood. Oftentimes, these types of documents are forgotten in a panic as a person tries to gather valuables and other survival necessities. If you have the time, including important documents should definitely be on your list.
7. A deck of cards, games, or a book or two.
Books and games can help relieve boredom and improve your mental health, giving you a break from the stress of your situation and allowing you to relax (even if it’s just a little bit). If you’re waiting for help or are in the aftermath of an intense natural disaster that knocks out water, power, or more, you’ll definitely want something to occupy your time.
Digital and electronic copies are definitely not to be forgotten, but there are scenarios or instances where it might not do you justice. If you have a family, the amount of important information you need during a crisis, attack, or disaster can rise exponentially. If you didn’t have access to a working phone or wifi, or the internet goes down altogether, would you be able to remember everything you need? Would you have the proper documentation to get you by?
Each of these are worth keeping in your emergency supply, bug-out bag, or at least easily accessible in case of an emergency — and it’s definitely worth checking or updating once or twice a year.