Nobody likes to think about bad things happening to us but these days – when our entire lives are stored in digital format – it’s important to be prepared for emergencies. Several years ago, I came up with the idea of an emergency stick (which I affectionately call “the death stick”) that contains essential information that my loved ones can access should I become indisposed and unable to carry on my responsibilities.
What is an Emergency Stick
What the emergency stick is, is information stored on a USB flash drive in either plain text format or PDF (for screenshots) format, that contains essential digital information should you be unable to access it yourself.
This includes passwords and login information, insurance information, online friends to contact in case of emergency and more. The reason I chose plain text and PDF format, is that I wanted to future proof my information as much as possible by using a file format that hopefully, will still be readable down the road. Text and PDF’s have been around for awhile and it doesn’t look like they’re going away anytime soon.
I also use a separate file for each entry, and precede the file name by a number. For example: 1-facebook.txt, 2-twitter.txt, 3-Bank-of-America, text, etc. You should, of course, use a file organization that best works for your particular system.
What To Include
Below is a list of some items that you might want to store on an emergency stick:
- 1Password or LastPass master password and instructions on using the application
- Banking login information
- List of all online financial accounts and related login information
- List of all investments accounts along with related login information
- Instructions on how to access your website or blog dashboard
- Instructions on how to post a message on your website or blog
- Email addresses of online friends to contact in case of an emergency
- Passwords and instructions for financial applications, such as iBank, Quicken, Quickbooks or AccountEdge
- Life Insurance information
- Health Insurance information
- HSA information
- List of credit cards along with online access passwords
- List of social media accounts you use along with login information
- Dropbox password
- PayPal password
- If you are a sole proprietor of a business, provide any necessary instructions to ensure the smooth operation of said business while you are away
- Power of Attorney information
- List of email accounts you own along with relevant passwords
- Password to login to your computer (very important!)
Updating Your Emergency Stick
What’s essential with the emergency stick system, is that you update it regularly. I change many of my online passwords at least twice a year so you want make sure you update your emergency stick at the same time. The emergency stick does little good with outdated information.
Why not make creating your own emergency stick one of your New Year’s Resolutions?