How to Create an Emergency Binder

What is an Emergency Binder? As we talk about under Getting Started, each family should have a disaster kit put together which includes things like first aid items, 72 hour food kits, extra outfits, etc. An emergency binder is an integral part of this kit. Basically you ask yourself this question: Would I be frustrated or mad if I lost this item in an earthquake, flood, or other emergency situation?

What should I include in my Emergency Binder?

  • birth certificates
  • passports
  • social security cards
  • copies of your credit cards front and back
  • homeowners insurance policy
  • auto insurance policy
  • life insurance policy
  • bank statements
  • retirement statements
  • internet passwords (banking, personal, work etc)
  • immunization records
  • utility statements
  • work/tax documents that would be difficult to replace
  • CASH – keep a variety of small bills on hand

We like to put each item in a sheet protector and add divider labels to put them into sections. This makes it easy to pull things in and out when you need to access them.

Do I store copies or originals? This is a personal choice but we recommend storing the originals IN your emergency binder and store photocopies of them in a filing cabinet, and also scan a digital copy and give it to a trusted friend or put it in a safe deposit box. If your house burnt down or was flooded it would be so relieving to know that you don’t have to go through the hassle of replacing those documents. If you already have a water/fireproof filing cabinet or safe you may choose to just put copies in your binder so that you can have the information on hand in an emergency but know that you can return home and find the originals intact at a later time.

What should I store my binder in? Even though the idea is to grab the disaster kit and bring it with you, there is always the chance that you won’t be home during an emergency. In this scenario you would still want to return home and find your binder in good condition (especially if your original documents are IN the binder). We recommend storing your binder in a fireproof/ waterproof locked box that is small enough to be transported with you in an emergency.

P.S WE ARE GETTING A LOT OF GOOD IDEAS IN THE COMMENTS HERE, MAKE SURE YOU READ THEM.

  • Pingback: How To Make A Large Scrapbook Binders | The Scrapbook Idea

  • Pingback: How To Make A Large Scrapbook Binders For Recipes | The Scrapbook Idea

  • cclarkacres

    You can also use a gun safe [or any safe] built into the wall of a garage/walk out basement -anywhere that you can build a small shed for say garden tools…the back wall of the shed becomes access to the safe and no one knows it’s there. This gives you two ways to acess it. Small personal safes can be hidden between wall studs,buried outside, bolted down under the floor boards anywhere you can access it.

  • Pingback: Emergency Document Binder | Tis Eventide

  • Kathy

    We had a house fire two years ago and all that was left of our fire safes (2) was the insulation. I had kept the smaller one in the chest freezer and the food in there did survive so in theory the fire safe would have survived. I am not sure that a total house fire would not destroy your fire safe.

  • kay

    Don’t forget a Bible. When all else fails, God never does.

  • Azelia Ross-Neustaeter

    Anybody emailed themselves their info so they can access it easily?

    • Isabel

      That’s probably not a good idea; your inbox is not safe. What my husband and I do is use TruCrypt to encrypt our documents that we store on DropBox (or your cloud storage of choice) so we can access our files securely from anywhere. Just make sure that your TruCrypt password is long and out of the ordinary from your normal cypher and use a picture keyfile as well for extra security.

  • Tonsofdeals

    Would keeping the originals in a safe deposit box at my bank be a good idea? Their vaults are fireproof and I’m quite sure would withstand a hurricane/tornado..or am I wrong?

    • http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net Jodi and Julie

      Sounds like a decent option to me!

    • Maddie

      If something REALLY bad happens, say as a war or a financial crisis across the country, storing something in a bank is perhaps not the best idea, especially if you are trying to get out of that place quick. Banks are going to be a big targets for looters.

  • Donna

    Just had another thought…you can pick this safe up…so can an intruder. Might be a good idea to not have it in plain sight.

    • Tmmaynard

      It’s also a good idea to “hide” your safe next to an outside wall of your home. Most homes fall “in” on themselves if there is a fire which would leave finding your safe easier. :)

  • Scampsmama

    So much good advice here.  Just another thought.  If you are planning on making copies of documents someplace other than your home (work, etc) be aware that when the copiers are turned back in (after leasing which most places do) that everything that has been copied can still be accessed. So unless the company (who leased the machine) chooses to have the hard drive destroyed, your docs are still “out there” waiting for someone without morals.  (Our copier guy told us this) 
     And then a question. This has to do with credit/debit cards. You have the 3 digit number on the back which you have to give when ordering on-line. You don’t want to have copies of the front and back in the same place…so what have others done? You need these numbers, but I want my info safe.  Any ideas out there?

  • Nicole Mier

    Ok if I’m putting my originals in a binder do I tape them on a blank sheet of paper then put it inside a sheet protector? Like the social security cards would they just slip out? Thank you.

    • Enchantedmoments95

      I found a great binder that was spirl bound. At Walmart.
      I had large pockets like sheetprotectors and also small closeable pockets for smaller items like the cards to keep them in place

  • Angel W

    I don’t know if it’s been posted before…(I didn’t make it through all of the comments) but make sure to swap out your copies of utility bills.  I can see some agency not accepting them as proof of residency if they are too old.  My in laws swap out their kits every LDS general conference.  I thought that was a great idea:)  Thank you so much for all of the help getting prepared for that which is ahead.

  • Enchantedmoments95

    loving this site
    Can’t wait to get started

  • Pingback: Be Prepared: Plan Before You Prepare | Life's Simple Stories

  • Pingback: 7 Day Challenge: DAY 3 Recap ... Evacuate and Evaluate | Food Storage Made Easy

  • Bookkat

    I agree that everyone needs important docs where they can grab them quickly.  I would not rely solely on an internet site, flash drive, or computer for storage of important docs.  In case of an emergency such as an EMP, all electrical equipment would be rendered useless.

  • Pingback: 2 DAY SALE – Emergency Preparedness Planner | Food Storage Made Easy

  • Pingback: Linky Love – A Week of Resolutions - Blog : Blog

  • Anonymous

    What a site lots of great info and then even more in comments thanks to all.

  • Sarah

    I’ve heard that copies can’t always be used as proof of identity. What we’re trying to do is to get 2 copies each of our birth certificates. That way we can have one set of originals, and my husband’s parents have the other set in their safe across the country. We’re also going to give them copies of other important docs. We also have an external hard drive where our computer does back-ups to daily. It’s something that is easy to grab in an emergency and take with you and your computer usually has a ton of things on there you don’t want to lose – like digital family pictures.

  • Geni

    You can also scan your documents into your computer and then store on a flash drive.  That way you can always keep it with you on your key chain, etc.  That would be a good thing if you were away from home and couldn’t get there to get your emergency notebook. . .

    • Kears

      Just be cautious in placing this on your key chain as someone may steal your purse, hijack your car, mug you, or somehow obtain your keys.  You would be in a lot of trouble if they now have your personal info, especially your ssn.  Make sure you protect those documents with passwords!!  Even that might not be enough though.

      It is a GREAT idea to have these stored outside the home though in case you are not able to return.  

  • Sellyourannuity

    Wonderful idea we live in Florida now and there is always a chance of a hurricaine.

  • Anonymous

    Great article I agree every family should have a emergency binder.

  • Anonymous

    Great article I agree every family should have a emergency binder.

  • Anonymous

    The chances of losing everything if someone were to steal bag. The baggage tag on my bag to go in the hope that some honest person would try to return it with this name

  • Starefive

    Almost all home 3-1 printers with a flat bed scanner are capable of scanning documents into a pdf file.If you don’t have this capability at home you can take your papers to a Staples or other shop and do it there.  This file can be e-mailed to yourself, stored on a flashdrive, disc, or saved on the computer of a out of town family member or friend.

  • Lbdjunkmail

    Originals are locked in the safe, copies of (selected) items in the go bag – I don’t want to take a chance on losing everything should someone steal my bag!   I have a luggage tag on my go bag, in the hopes that some honest person would try to return it, with my name, address, and cell number.  Inside my go bag, in a ziploc baggie, I have a copy of my utility bill (proof of residence), contacts info should I not be able to do it myself (spouse, out of town contact, doctor, etc.), birth certificate & driver’s license (proof of identity), car registration (proof of ownership), and that’s about it.  That will get me (legally) back to my safe, where everything else, should more proof be needed, is stored.

  • Pingback: 72 Hour Kits Revisited: Part 1 of 2 | Food Storage Made Easy

  • Kerstin

    After reading many of these comments, I am still a bit confused: where would you keep the originals? In the fireproof box (which I just purchased) or in the go-bag? Our box is rather heavy. However, it WOULD be possible to carry it to the car in case of evacuation. And then, if we need to shelter somewhere, I’d just ditch the box and keep my belongings in another bag, so it doesn’t look suspicious to thieves. I feel funny about leaving the box with all my originals in the house if we’re needing to evacuate.
    What about making copies of everything and putting them into the emergency binder inside the emergency kit. And then ALSO bringing the fireproof box with the originals? Or rather keep copies in the fireproof box and leave it in the house?
    Ahhhh, so many things to consider! Thanks for your input and God bless!
    Kerstin

    • http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net Jodi – Food Storage Made Easy

      Kerstin, My personal opinion is that if you have to go in a hurry, you
      would grab the originals out of your fireproof box. They should all
      be in a binder or folder so easy to grab and go. The fireproof box is
      so that if you are not at home and there is a disaster, your originals
      would be preserved. But no need to haul the whole box around, unless
      there were other things in it you wanted with you too. Just my
      thoughts.

    • Corrie

      In addition to what you have in a box. You may want to store some of the information online, in case something happens to your box. You may want to consider storing just the vital information including where documents are stored in an alternate location, like with your attorney an out-of-state family member. I use http://www.ecyren.com to keep track of my entire family’s medical information, prescriptions and other emergency contact including information for my 79 year old mother who lives in a different state. Try it out. It is free and uses the https for security.

    • Corrie

      In addition to what you have in a box. You may want to store some of the information online, in case something happens to your box. You may want to consider storing just the vital information including where documents are stored in an alternate location, like with your attorney an out-of-state family member. I use http://www.ecyren.com to keep track of my entire family’s medical information, prescriptions and other emergency contact including information for my 79 year old mother who lives in a different state. Try it out. It is free and uses the https for security.

  • Pingback: 72 HOUR KIT IDEAS - CALL FOR HELP! | Food Storage Made Easy

  • Lisa, in NZ

    I would like to add that in my 72 Hour bags, we have one each, I have a contacts list in my childrens bags, with many family members and friends numbers/addresses, even family overseas. If anything happened they could be taken to someone they know.
    Also, each contact list has the photos so we would have one to show who they are, if worst scenario, they got lost.

  • Lisa, in NZ

    I would like to add that in my 72 Hour bags, we have one each, I have a contacts list in my childrens bags, with many family members and friends numbers/addresses, even family overseas. If anything happened they could be taken to someone they know.
    Also, each contact list has the photos so we would have one to show who they are, if worst scenario, they got lost.

  • Me

    I have a fireproof box made by Sentry that I have had for years and never had a problem. i also have a fireproof file box that is great. I think this brand is just not made properly.

  • Me

    I have a fireproof box made by Sentry that I have had for years and never had a problem. i also have a fireproof file box that is great. I think this brand is just not made properly.

  • Keithndeirdre2008

    Have you read the reviews on the link you have to amazon for the fire lock box? Pretty scary….I certainly will not be purchasing that one.

  • anne

    What size usb would be adequate for all the recommended items? Better to have one large one or things split up between several? Thanks!

    • Pandaaman90

      I think that an 8 GB would be more than adequate for your storage needs. You can get one on Amazon for about $15-$20.

  • anne

    What size usb would be adequate for all the recommended items? Better to have one large one or things split up between several? Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000347590174 Chris Keith

    We have these kinds of things compiled in one, easy for us (but not a thief hopefully) to grab spot in our house, and a duplicate in a secure off-site location. That way, if we can't grab the copies we have at home because of timing or if we weren't home when disaster hit, we have a physical backup somewhere else to rely on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000347590174 Chris Keith

    We have these kinds of things compiled in one, easy for us (but not a thief hopefully) to grab spot in our house, and a duplicate in a secure off-site location. That way, if we can’t grab the copies we have at home because of timing or if we weren’t home when disaster hit, we have a physical backup somewhere else to rely on.

  • http://www.filecabinetkey.net/file-cabinet-dividers file cabinet dividers

    I'm so love this blog, already bookmarked it! Thanks.

  • http://www.filecabinetkey.net/file-cabinet-dividers file cabinet dividers

    I’m so love this blog, already bookmarked it! Thanks.

  • http://www.filecabinetkey.net/chicago-file-cabinet-keys Chicago File Cabinet Keys

    Please give me more information. I love it, Thanks again.

  • Cwbypilot

    it isn't burnt it's burned.

  • Cwbypilot

    it isn’t burnt it’s burned.

  • Cindy

    A [reparedness binder is great in an emergency. I found a site, http://www.ecyren.com where you can enter your personal and emergency contact inforamtion for the entire. It is great to enter the information, print the forms and put in the binders. Having the information online also provides a backup and it can be accessed from another location, in case the hardcopy is not available. The best part of this it is free. I am not sure I know how they are making money, but it is safe and secure. I was really impressed with the ability to maintain photos on the site.

    It worked for me, it could work for you.

  • Laurie Brandt

    There's one thing that has not been mentioned be for it seems, and that is weight. You may very well have to put all of this on your back and walk. Do you really want to add another 30lbs + of weight for a fire safe?

    • Jodi — Food Storage Made Easy

      If you have to grab and go you could take it out of the safe if the weight is a concern. The safe is more of a precaution in case your home is destroyed while you are away.

  • Laurie Brandt

    There’s one thing that has not been mentioned be for it seems, and that is weight. You may very well have to put all of this on your back and walk. Do you really want to add another 30lbs + of weight for a fire safe?

    • Pandaaman90

      If I was walking, I think I would ditch the safe. It did its job of protecting the docs. In an emergency, I would be keeping my eye on the binder as my lifeline to my old life.

      Plus, a nice big safe on your back just invites people to see whats inside…

  • http://recordsresources.com genealogy

    put together your family's emergency binder, periodically review the contents and make sure the information inside

  • http://recordsresources.com genealogy

    put together your family’s emergency binder, periodically review the contents and make sure the information inside

  • Therese

    I would be wary of photocopying important documents on a public machine, or your office machine for that matter. I heard a news story of used copiers about to be shipped overseas, and there was a lot of personal information stored in them. Scanners might be the best way to copy sensitive information.
    If you are planning on having your binder in your car and you are concerned with theft, you could come up with a way to encrypt the numbers. The average thief won't be smart enough to figure it out.
    Thank you for all your work to help others be better prepared to help themselves.

  • Therese

    I would be wary of photocopying important documents on a public machine, or your office machine for that matter. I heard a news story of used copiers about to be shipped overseas, and there was a lot of personal information stored in them. Scanners might be the best way to copy sensitive information.
    If you are planning on having your binder in your car and you are concerned with theft, you could come up with a way to encrypt the numbers. The average thief won’t be smart enough to figure it out.
    Thank you for all your work to help others be better prepared to help themselves.

  • Therese

    I would be wary of photocopying important documents on a public machine, or your office machine for that matter. I heard a news story of used copiers about to be shipped overseas, and there was a lot of personal information stored in them. Scanners might be the best way to copy sensitive information.
    If you are planning on having your binder in your car and you are concerned with theft, you could come up with a way to encrypt the numbers. The average thief won't be smart enough to figure it out.
    Thank you for all your work to help others be better prepared to help themselves.

  • kiwibeeper

    For those who want to keep documents secure but don't have a fireproof lock box etc., I interviewed a woman whose house burned down and she said keep important stuff in your deep freeze. I don't think someone would usually look there for something to steal, and she said everything inside her deep freeze was still intact.
    I don't know what would be best to protect papers from humidity – whether you would use a few freezer bags or vacuum seal them or what. o

  • LHerdz

    List of docs . Keep originals in safe deposit box
    ADDRESSES:
    ICE – In case of Emergency contacts
    Name, Address, Phone #, Emails of Family, Friends, Business, Christmas card list Etc

    AUTOMOBILE & VEHICLES:
    Auto Policy, Insurance card on each car (copy)
    Auto Loan documents (copy)
    Copy of Title/or leases
    Recreational Vehicle/Boat Titles/loans
    Warranty, Record of Repairs

    CHURCH:
    Membership Records printout (copy) – Get from ward clerk
    Important church certificates, ordinances, patriarchal blessings (copies)
    RS phone Lists, ward &/or stake Directory – print from ward/branch online website @ lds.org

    EDUCATION:
    Diplomas (copy)
    Class Schedule (copy)
    Map of school
    School Calendar
    Transcripts (copies)

    EMPLOYMENT
    Resume
    Employment information, contracts
    Retirement Pension, Profit Sharing plans
    Wage Statement/copy most recent paycheck stub
    Social Security Annual Statement

    ESTATE PLANNING:
    Advanced Directive, Durable power of attorney for Health Care
    Financial Power of Attorney
    Revocable Living Trust & Will
    Final Instructions
    Documentation of Prepaid fees to cemetery/funeral home & contracts

    FAMILY
    Individual Family Member Information:
    Pictures of family members (current) (color copies)
    Child ID, DNA
    Adoption, Birth, Citizenship, Divorce, Marriage, Death Certificates (copies)
    Drivers License (color copies)
    Military Record of Service (copies)
    Passports (color copies)
    Social Security # cards (copies)

    FINANCIAL:
    Bank Name, Account # (deposit slips & business cards)
    Credit cards, credit card info. if lost phone #’s (color copies)
    Investments – Annuity contracts, Bonds, CD’s, IRA’S, Stock certificates
    Mutual Funds, Money Markets
    Safe Deposit box #, location, list of contents
    Tax return (copies of last 3 yrs.)

    GENEALOGY
    Backup/Gedcom – on CD, floppy or flash drive
    Printed copy of index, pedigree chart & family group sheets

    HOME:
    House & Car keys (copies)
    Food Storage Inventory
    Evacuation plan & escape routes
    Record of home repairs, maintenance etc.

    HOUSING
    Appraisal (copy)
    Mortgage statement (copy)
    Deeds (copy)
    Homeowners or Renters Insurance & coverage information (copy)
    Property taxes bill (recent)
    Land survey (copy)
    Title policy (copy)
    Home Inventory list, photos, video, & appraisals (copies)

    INSURANCE
    Disability Insurance
    Life Insurance Policy
    Long Term Care Insurance
    Medicare/Medi-gap/Medicaid
    Travel Insurance

    MEDICAL
    Business cards Dr. Hospitals, Ortho, Vetenerian, etc.
    Dental Records (copies x-rays)
    Health, Dental & Vision Insurance Cards
    Copy of Health Insurance Policy
    Immunizations for each family member
    Medical History, list of Medications taken, copies of prescriptions for each family member
    Pet Records

    PHOTOS
    CD, Memory Stick or Negatives of important pictures & keepsakes

  • LHerdz

    List of docs . Keep originals in safe deposit box
    ADDRESSES:
    ICE – In case of Emergency contacts
    Name, Address, Phone #, Emails of Family, Friends, Business, Christmas card list Etc

    AUTOMOBILE & VEHICLES:
    Auto Policy, Insurance card on each car (copy)
    Auto Loan documents (copy)
    Copy of Title/or leases
    Recreational Vehicle/Boat Titles/loans
    Warranty, Record of Repairs

    CHURCH:
    Membership Records printout (copy) – Get from ward clerk
    Important church certificates, ordinances, patriarchal blessings (copies)
    RS phone Lists, ward &/or stake Directory – print from ward/branch online website @ lds.org

    EDUCATION:
    Diplomas (copy)
    Class Schedule (copy)
    Map of school
    School Calendar
    Transcripts (copies)

    EMPLOYMENT
    Resume
    Employment information, contracts
    Retirement Pension, Profit Sharing plans
    Wage Statement/copy most recent paycheck stub
    Social Security Annual Statement

    ESTATE PLANNING:
    Advanced Directive, Durable power of attorney for Health Care
    Financial Power of Attorney
    Revocable Living Trust & Will
    Final Instructions
    Documentation of Prepaid fees to cemetery/funeral home & contracts

    FAMILY
    Individual Family Member Information:
    Pictures of family members (current) (color copies)
    Child ID, DNA
    Adoption, Birth, Citizenship, Divorce, Marriage, Death Certificates (copies)
    Drivers License (color copies)
    Military Record of Service (copies)
    Passports (color copies)
    Social Security # cards (copies)

    FINANCIAL:
    Bank Name, Account # (deposit slips & business cards)
    Credit cards, credit card info. if lost phone #’s (color copies)
    Investments – Annuity contracts, Bonds, CD’s, IRA’S, Stock certificates
    Mutual Funds, Money Markets
    Safe Deposit box #, location, list of contents
    Tax return (copies of last 3 yrs.)

    GENEALOGY
    Backup/Gedcom – on CD, floppy or flash drive
    Printed copy of index, pedigree chart & family group sheets

    HOME:
    House & Car keys (copies)
    Food Storage Inventory
    Evacuation plan & escape routes
    Record of home repairs, maintenance etc.

    HOUSING
    Appraisal (copy)
    Mortgage statement (copy)
    Deeds (copy)
    Homeowners or Renters Insurance & coverage information (copy)
    Property taxes bill (recent)
    Land survey (copy)
    Title policy (copy)
    Home Inventory list, photos, video, & appraisals (copies)

    INSURANCE
    Disability Insurance
    Life Insurance Policy
    Long Term Care Insurance
    Medicare/Medi-gap/Medicaid
    Travel Insurance

    MEDICAL
    Business cards Dr. Hospitals, Ortho, Vetenerian, etc.
    Dental Records (copies x-rays)
    Health, Dental & Vision Insurance Cards
    Copy of Health Insurance Policy
    Immunizations for each family member
    Medical History, list of Medications taken, copies of prescriptions for each family member
    Pet Records

    PHOTOS
    CD, Memory Stick or Negatives of important pictures & keepsakes

  • denyserhodes

    Thank you for that, I will get those little things to put my pictures on, I can do that on rainy days when I dont feel like cleaning, I am also going to start my emergency binder too ! So much to do ….

  • http://vbchristensen.blogspot.com/ Valerie

    I know people who shrink down 4 pages to fit on a single paper and then laminate them. You can then cut them apart, punch a hole in the corners, put them on a ring and store in a 72 hour kit.

  • http://vbchristensen.blogspot.com/ Valerie

    I know people who shrink down 4 pages to fit on a single paper and then laminate them. You can then cut them apart, punch a hole in the corners, put them on a ring and store in a 72 hour kit.

  • libertyRN

    One other thing, and if it’s been posted before I apologize.

    In getting ready for a disaster, it’s important for insurance purposes to have photos of your house. For proof of what you had. We are all told when we buy homeowners/renters insurance to document serial numbers and other identifying information of each high-price item.

    My friend is an insurance adjuster and has said that often people don’t have any proof whatsoever that there was once a house standing in a disaster zone. None of us wants to deal with more heartache and stress after a disaster. So take a digital camera and snap photos of every room in your house. You want different angles of each room, even the ceiling and floor (goes to prove there wasn’t damage there already). Take pictures of your house from outside, again at different angles. If you own a collection or any kind of collectibles that are especially valuable, you should also take a picture of the inside of it.

    And once you’re done, be sure to keep a copy of these pictures. Either back them up to Mozy, keep them on a flash drive, memory card, or keep some sort of copies in several places. You could even print them out and keep them with your emergency binder. Then you’d have them, along with your insurance information and contact info if needed.

    Hope this helps.

    • Lisa

      Also I took a class in college that was called “Consumer Economics.” My teacher gave us a project that was about how much you are worth according to finances and what you own. I know that this would be useful in a disaster as well. I agree that it is very important to get pictures of everything you own at all angles. But to fully have proof for the “insurance adjuster” You must keep an inventory of everything you own written down or saved on a flash drive, usb, ect. And how much each item is worth money wise. 

      So for the project we had to research every item we own in our house and find the Fair market value, document the value for each item that was in our homes as well as have a current picture of that item, and if possible proof of receipt. It takes a while to document EVERYTHING but overtime it is worth it. Especially in a disaster or maybe if you were robbed.

    • Lemonshrew

      If you do a lot of online shopping like I do, check out Amazon’s Order History Report. I downloaded an excel document showing every purchase I made from Amazon in the last seven years. The document shows the date and the amount of the purchase, along with other information. This has really helped streamline the process of documenting my belongings. Other sites my offer this service as well, but if not, you could always use the email receipt.

  • libertyRN

    One other thing, and if it's been posted before I apologize.

    In getting ready for a disaster, it's important for insurance purposes to have photos of your house. For proof of what you had. We are all told when we buy homeowners/renters insurance to document serial numbers and other identifying information of each high-price item.

    My friend is an insurance adjuster and has said that often people don't have any proof whatsoever that there was once a house standing in a disaster zone. None of us wants to deal with more heartache and stress after a disaster. So take a digital camera and snap photos of every room in your house. You want different angles of each room, even the ceiling and floor (goes to prove there wasn't damage there already). Take pictures of your house from outside, again at different angles. If you own a collection or any kind of collectibles that are especially valuable, you should also take a picture of the inside of it.

    And once you're done, be sure to keep a copy of these pictures. Either back them up to Mozy, keep them on a flash drive, memory card, or keep some sort of copies in several places. You could even print them out and keep them with your emergency binder. Then you'd have them, along with your insurance information and contact info if needed.

    Hope this helps.

  • Elisa

    I was just watching the news and in Chile they had buildings that were leaning and the people had to give a list of things they needed out of their apartments and it clicked. as prepared as we should be we need our families to know WHERE things are that we need in an emergency and someone else has to help us. I just moved ALL the things that if needed I could tell someone where they are AND they will be able to get them easily.

  • Elisa

    I was just watching the news and in Chile they had buildings that were leaning and the people had to give a list of things they needed out of their apartments and it clicked. as prepared as we should be we need our families to know WHERE things are that we need in an emergency and someone else has to help us. I just moved ALL the things that if needed I could tell someone where they are AND they will be able to get them easily.

  • Anonymous

    Hello,
    You never sent me check list 2 will you please send it to me.
    Thanks Carol

  • carol59

    Hello,
    You never sent me check list 2 will you please send it to me.
    Thanks Carol

  • libertyRN

    I just wanted to add, one thing I noticed after Katrina (had a friend who lost it all). Please, please, PLEASE everyone…after you’ve got the important stuff done, start scanning photos of your family and keeping digital copies on a flash drive. You can then keep extra memory cards, a flash drive, or even CD/DVD’s full of pictures in your emergency binder, with your documents, etc. Can you imagine what it would be like to lose your house, and with it…all your family pictures? My friend lost it all, and it truly opened my eyes to how hard it would be to lose my kids’ photos, my family/ancestry photos, and other pics that would be forever gone. I myself have all mine stored on a web-based server (like flickr, photobucket, etc), on Mozy, in CD’s, and I have two flash drives that so far have ALL my photos I have in my house. All of them. I carry one flash drive with me in my purse, with all my digital copies of documents (encrypted), and all my GOOD photos. My friend has NO pictures of her family, none of her children, none of her wedding, nothing. It breaks my heart. I know it may be overwhelming for people, but even if you just start copying SOME pics, and doing some every week, that’s a start…and at least you’d have some memories left. :) Great comments, everyone…and THANK YOU for this site and all your HARD work!!!

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for that, I will get those little things to put my pictures on, I can do that on rainy days when I dont feel like cleaning, I am also going to start my emergency binder too ! So much to do ….

    • Pamela

      I actually started subscribing to an on line photo album as well such as Flickr. Each time I get photos, I keep a copy for me then upload to the website. They have a small yearly fee and I know there are several sites out there. You can also forward links to other people for viewing. In the event that the internet goes down, yes you won’t have access..but in the event of losing your home due to fire, flood, etc..they’re still safe. Just a thought for another back up avenue.

  • libertyRN

    I just wanted to add, one thing I noticed after Katrina (had a friend who lost it all). Please, please, PLEASE everyone…after you've got the important stuff done, start scanning photos of your family and keeping digital copies on a flash drive. You can then keep extra memory cards, a flash drive, or even CD/DVD's full of pictures in your emergency binder, with your documents, etc. Can you imagine what it would be like to lose your house, and with it…all your family pictures? My friend lost it all, and it truly opened my eyes to how hard it would be to lose my kids' photos, my family/ancestry photos, and other pics that would be forever gone. I myself have all mine stored on a web-based server (like flickr, photobucket, etc), on Mozy, in CD's, and I have two flash drives that so far have ALL my photos I have in my house. All of them. I carry one flash drive with me in my purse, with all my digital copies of documents (encrypted), and all my GOOD photos. My friend has NO pictures of her family, none of her children, none of her wedding, nothing. It breaks my heart. I know it may be overwhelming for people, but even if you just start copying SOME pics, and doing some every week, that's a start…and at least you'd have some memories left. :) Great comments, everyone…and THANK YOU for this site and all your HARD work!!!

  • francines

    I like the idea of scanning documents, but many times you need the actual document(marriage license). Perhaps scan as much as you can and have it on a flash drive…then carry the rest in an 5 x 7 “address book” with papers folded once.

  • Anonymous

    When you say, “policy” referring to homeowners, auto and life, are you referring to the one-page printout of the policy numbers and basic coverage amounts, or are you talking about the whole packet with detailed coverage?

  • karenshine

    When you say, “policy” referring to homeowners, auto and life, are you referring to the one-page printout of the policy numbers and basic coverage amounts, or are you talking about the whole packet with detailed coverage?

  • http://www.youravon.com/ebeury Elisa

    when i was growing up my grandmother would go all over the house and touch what she would take in the event we had to leave in an emergency( lived within 10 miles of power plant). she said if we had 15 minutes to get what was needed and get in the car and leave we had to have a plan. we did this every month. we never worried about the animals. Thanks for reminding me they will be with us and to have what they need too. We take comfort in our pets and have to have them ready to go or just enough for a 72 hour kits of their own. Thanks for the ideas.

  • http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net Jodi – Food Storage Made Easy

    Yes we recommend placing it in a fireproof, waterproof, portable safe.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Anita; especially if you are keeping all of these documents in your car. All it takes is one car break-in and there goes your identity along with that of your spouse and your kids. Your toast. That is one disaster you won’t recover from.

    I would keep sensitive information like this in a secure location in the house. If you have to take it with you some time ….. that works. If you have to return to the house to retrieve it ….. that works too.

    • http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net Jodi – Food Storage Made Easy

      Yes we recommend placing it in a fireproof, waterproof, portable safe.

  • Blane888

    I agree with Anita; especially if you are keeping all of these documents in your car. All it takes is one car break-in and there goes your identity along with that of your spouse and your kids. Your toast. That is one disaster you won't recover from.

    I would keep sensitive information like this in a secure location in the house. If you have to take it with you some time ….. that works. If you have to return to the house to retrieve it ….. that works too.

  • Sarah

    We only have one family car. Our binder and our “go kit” are both in the trunk. In an emergency, that is the only vehicle that is transporting our family. We have a copy binder in our fire-lock box.

  • Sarah

    We only have one family car. Our binder and our “go kit” are both in the trunk. In an emergency, that is the only vehicle that is transporting our family. We have a copy binder in our fire-lock box.

  • Mariah

    never thought we might actually be looking at that info in our binders, but here we are in the beginning of a pandemic right now, so even if we think “oh it wont happen any time soon…” it could because it did. so we need make sure we all have it ready to look at at any time!!

  • Traci

    I would add health records for your pets. You may need to prove that fido has updated shots for shelters, etc.

  • Traci

    I would add health records for your pets. You may need to prove that fido has updated shots for shelters, etc.

  • Traci

    I would add health records for your pets. You may need to prove that fido has updated shots for shelters, etc.

  • Traci

    I would add health records for your pets. You may need to prove that fido has updated shots for shelters, etc.

  • Catherine

    You could always “hide” your documents in a photo album or a scrapbook.

  • Catherine

    You could always “hide” your documents in a photo album or a scrapbook.

  • Todd

    Frankly, just getting people to locate and collect all these items will be a huge benefit to them, even if they don’t make a binder or fire safe. So thanks for that encouragement.

    I would be very careful, though, about putting all this information in a binder and sticking it where somebody would easily access it. There are too many ways people (even with our permission) get into our homes. Best that this is hidden somewhere nobody would immediately look.

    An alternative is to scan all these items and back them up to Mozy, which you could access from any computer anywhere in the world after the fire/tornado/hurricane/etc. Then all you’d need to actually carry would be passports, immunization records, and other items not of interest to identity thieves.

  • Todd

    Frankly, just getting people to locate and collect all these items will be a huge benefit to them, even if they don’t make a binder or fire safe. So thanks for that encouragement.

    I would be very careful, though, about putting all this information in a binder and sticking it where somebody would easily access it. There are too many ways people (even with our permission) get into our homes. Best that this is hidden somewhere nobody would immediately look.

    An alternative is to scan all these items and back them up to Mozy, which you could access from any computer anywhere in the world after the fire/tornado/hurricane/etc. Then all you’d need to actually carry would be passports, immunization records, and other items not of interest to identity thieves.

    • Anonymous

      I like the idea of scanning documents, but many times you need the actual document(marriage license). Perhaps scan as much as you can and have it on a flash drive…then carry the rest in an 5 x 7 “address book” with papers folded once.

  • Sarah

    Some additional things in my binder:
    my certificate of citizenship (which is theoretically irreplaceable)
    I also planned to put in some how-to stuff on dealing with emergencies; how to purify water with bleach, things like that…i’m still working on it

    Thanks for all your work!

  • Sarah

    Some additional things in my binder:
    my certificate of citizenship (which is theoretically irreplaceable)
    I also planned to put in some how-to stuff on dealing with emergencies; how to purify water with bleach, things like that…i’m still working on it

    Thanks for all your work!

  • Marie

    I would also add an itemized photo card, most digital cameras have them these days. Take photos of everyone in your family, including pets. Then label all of the photos with the person’s name and any other identifying information (say SSN, school or workplace contact data, RFID for pets, etc.). You can also take picture of valuables that cannot travel with you in the event of an emergency, while many have done so already for insurance purposes, to speed the process in the event of a disaster.

  • Marie

    I would also add an itemized photo card, most digital cameras have them these days. Take photos of everyone in your family, including pets. Then label all of the photos with the person’s name and any other identifying information (say SSN, school or workplace contact data, RFID for pets, etc.). You can also take picture of valuables that cannot travel with you in the event of an emergency, while many have done so already for insurance purposes, to speed the process in the event of a disaster.

  • Julie

    I have to add adoption certificates to that – especially if your child is a different race than you! In an emergency situation, it may not be clear to others who is your child legally.

  • Julie

    I have to add adoption certificates to that – especially if your child is a different race than you! In an emergency situation, it may not be clear to others who is your child legally.

  • Pingback: What’s With All The Food? » More on Emergency Paperwork

  • http://www.fourlittleducks.com Jen Smith

    On top of that list I also have:
    A copy of my church membership records
    A ward list
    An emergency sheet on each family member. It has a physical description, photo & any other info that would help locate them in case of emergency.

    I keep mine with my 72 hour kit so it is remembered.

  • http://www.fourlittleducks.com Jen Smith

    On top of that list I also have:
    A copy of my church membership records
    A ward list
    An emergency sheet on each family member. It has a physical description, photo & any other info that would help locate them in case of emergency.

    I keep mine with my 72 hour kit so it is remembered.

  • Admin

    We totally AGREE! SECURITY is a MAJOR issue for us all to be cautious of, but for a lot of young families starting out to invest in burglar rated fire safe that is bolted to a concrete floor, or encrypted waterproof USB flash drive for portable copies – can be enough of a hang up that they don’t do ANYTHING at all.

    So if this stuff is just going to sit in your filing cabinet anyways, maybe have it sit organized so it can be grabbed quickly in case of an emergency.

    The main focus of our entire blog is to get started somewhere, obviously the very start of anything wont be the IDEAL, but you can’t get to the ideal if you don’t start small.

    We’ll be focusing on more advanced concepts in the beyond the babysteps portion blog as we get to it, but for now everyone, do something, anything small, just get started :)

  • Admin

    We totally AGREE! SECURITY is a MAJOR issue for us all to be cautious of, but for a lot of young families starting out to invest in burglar rated fire safe that is bolted to a concrete floor, or encrypted waterproof USB flash drive for portable copies – can be enough of a hang up that they don’t do ANYTHING at all.

    So if this stuff is just going to sit in your filing cabinet anyways, maybe have it sit organized so it can be grabbed quickly in case of an emergency.

    The main focus of our entire blog is to get started somewhere, obviously the very start of anything wont be the IDEAL, but you can’t get to the ideal if you don’t start small.

    We’ll be focusing on more advanced concepts in the beyond the babysteps portion blog as we get to it, but for now everyone, do something, anything small, just get started :)

  • Angie

    Another thing to consider is putting ID info. for each family member in it. A current picture, lock of hair, fingerprint, name, weight, height, hair color, eye color, any other descriptions in case of separation, etc. Just a thought. I have a lot to get done!! Thanks!

  • Angie

    Another thing to consider is putting ID info. for each family member in it. A current picture, lock of hair, fingerprint, name, weight, height, hair color, eye color, any other descriptions in case of separation, etc. Just a thought. I have a lot to get done!! Thanks!

  • Brian

    I’d add titles/deeds to that list.

    Personally I’d be wary of keeping all of those items in anything with a carry handle on it that can be smacked open by any thug with a hammer…

    For me. a burglar rated fire safe that is bolted to a concrete floor is the right place for originals. Encrypted waterproof USB flash drive for portable copies.

  • Brian

    I’d add titles/deeds to that list.

    Personally I’d be wary of keeping all of those items in anything with a carry handle on it that can be smacked open by any thug with a hammer…

    For me. a burglar rated fire safe that is bolted to a concrete floor is the right place for originals. Encrypted waterproof USB flash drive for portable copies.

  • Lacy

    All of this information is a tiny bit of an overload for me but I am so excited. I have tried unsuccessfully for years to ge prepared but I couldn’t wrap my brain around the organizational part by myself. Thank so much for all of your help. It’s like preparedness for dumbies and I love it!

  • Lacy

    All of this information is a tiny bit of an overload for me but I am so excited. I have tried unsuccessfully for years to ge prepared but I couldn’t wrap my brain around the organizational part by myself. Thank so much for all of your help. It’s like preparedness for dumbies and I love it!

  • Anita M. Estes

    A question about the binder. Isn’t this making it very convenient for a thief? Everything a thief needs to steal identities is going to be in one container should someone decide they want to ruin your life. Birth certificates, passports, credit card numbers, checking account numbers, internet passwords, etc. Wouldn’t these things be better kept in a bank safe deposit box instead?

  • Anita M. Estes

    A question about the binder. Isn’t this making it very convenient for a thief? Everything a thief needs to steal identities is going to be in one container should someone decide they want to ruin your life. Birth certificates, passports, credit card numbers, checking account numbers, internet passwords, etc. Wouldn’t these things be better kept in a bank safe deposit box instead?

  • Kylene

    My husband and I were brainstorming last night for anything else that might also need to be included. We came up with marriage documents, health insurance policy, list of (or copy of) prescriptions currently taking, and also any warranties on big household items that we buy.

  • Kylene

    My husband and I were brainstorming last night for anything else that might also need to be included. We came up with marriage documents, health insurance policy, list of (or copy of) prescriptions currently taking, and also any warranties on big household items that we buy.

  • Sydney

    I am so glad that I found your website! It is going to be so helpful! Food storage scares me…i had no idea where to start, what to get, etc.! I have also been looking for a fireproof/waterproof box that didn’t cost tons of money. Thanks for posting the link to the one you did!

  • Sydney

    I am so glad that I found your website! It is going to be so helpful! Food storage scares me…i had no idea where to start, what to get, etc.! I have also been looking for a fireproof/waterproof box that didn’t cost tons of money. Thanks for posting the link to the one you did!

  • Gwen

    Another thing to consider, not necessarily IN an emergency binder, but certainly with emergency supplies, is a prioritized list of household items to grab in case of disaster. Obviously your emergency kits are your number one priority, but if there’s time, other things such as family photos, journals, family history stuff, camera, etc. can be taken too. By having a list made ahead of time, if something happens, you can simply go down the list, gathering the things you can (in order of most important) instead of running around in a panic and forgetting something important to you.

  • Gwen

    Another thing to consider, not necessarily IN an emergency binder, but certainly with emergency supplies, is a prioritized list of household items to grab in case of disaster. Obviously your emergency kits are your number one priority, but if there’s time, other things such as family photos, journals, family history stuff, camera, etc. can be taken too. By having a list made ahead of time, if something happens, you can simply go down the list, gathering the things you can (in order of most important) instead of running around in a panic and forgetting something important to you.

    • http://www.youravon.com/ebeury Elisa

      when i was growing up my grandmother would go all over the house and touch what she would take in the event we had to leave in an emergency( lived within 10 miles of power plant). she said if we had 15 minutes to get what was needed and get in the car and leave we had to have a plan. we did this every month. we never worried about the animals. Thanks for reminding me they will be with us and to have what they need too. We take comfort in our pets and have to have them ready to go or just enough for a 72 hour kits of their own. Thanks for the ideas.

  • heatheranne

    there is a wonderful binder system established at flylady.net – she calls it her “control journal”. In addition to a wonderful template to get you started, she sells a great binder that zips to keep documents secure and also has a handle so you can literally grab and go!

  • heatheranne

    there is a wonderful binder system established at flylady.net – she calls it her “control journal”. In addition to a wonderful template to get you started, she sells a great binder that zips to keep documents secure and also has a handle so you can literally grab and go!

  • Admin

    I bet that kind of binder, with how to’s exist, we’ll have to look into it and share it…

  • Admin

    I bet that kind of binder, with how to’s exist, we’ll have to look into it and share it…

  • Amanda

    Good idea!!! I also like the idea posted by Lisa about a “How To” binder. Looks like I need to get to work!

  • Amanda

    Good idea!!! I also like the idea posted by Lisa about a “How To” binder. Looks like I need to get to work!

  • lisa

    Great idea! I’ll have to make a binder for my family.
    I also thought it would be handy to have a “how to binder” in case of disasters. So I have put together a binder full of information on what to do if disaster happens. Things on:
    Pandemic, fire, snow storms,tornadoes, even spiritual preparedness and more because you can never think strait when it’s happening to you.

  • lisa

    Great idea! I’ll have to make a binder for my family.
    I also thought it would be handy to have a “how to binder” in case of disasters. So I have put together a binder full of information on what to do if disaster happens. Things on:
    Pandemic, fire, snow storms,tornadoes, even spiritual preparedness and more because you can never think strait when it’s happening to you.

    • Mariah

      never thought we might actually be looking at that info in our binders, but here we are in the beginning of a pandemic right now, so even if we think “oh it wont happen any time soon…” it could because it did. so we need make sure we all have it ready to look at at any time!!

  • Lindsey

    We also have a document in all the family member’s kits with family contacts since most live far away and we’d need to let them know how we’re doing- addresses, phone numbers and also a recent family photo in case of a missing person report and can’t get access to a computer/internet.

  • Lindsey

    We also have a document in all the family member’s kits with family contacts since most live far away and we’d need to let them know how we’re doing- addresses, phone numbers and also a recent family photo in case of a missing person report and can’t get access to a computer/internet.

  • Admin

    Good call Allie. I have those account numbers on my internet banking passwords sheet so I don’t have actual statements in my binder. I actually put a LOT of things on the internet banking passwords sheet. I went ahead and included the utility statements in this list though.

  • Admin

    Good call Allie. I have those account numbers on my internet banking passwords sheet so I don’t have actual statements in my binder. I actually put a LOT of things on the internet banking passwords sheet. I went ahead and included the utility statements in this list though.

  • http://www.learningtobefrugal.com Allie

    Adding to my previous post, in addition to the list of items listed above, I would also include bill statements. That way, you would have the account numbers and phone numbers for utilities, phone service, etc.

  • http://www.learningtobefrugal.com Allie

    Adding to my previous post, in addition to the list of items listed above, I would also include bill statements. That way, you would have the account numbers and phone numbers for utilities, phone service, etc.

  • http://www.learningtobefrugal.com Allie

    Thank you so much for posting this advice. You’ve made it very easy to set up an emergency binder. I went ahead and labeled each sheet protector instead of using dividers.

    Thanks again!

    Allie
    Learningtobefrugal.com

  • http://www.learningtobefrugal.com Allie

    Thank you so much for posting this advice. You’ve made it very easy to set up an emergency binder. I went ahead and labeled each sheet protector instead of using dividers.

    Thanks again!

    Allie
    Learningtobefrugal.com

    • Anonymous

      For those who want to keep documents secure but don’t have a fireproof lock box etc., I interviewed a woman whose house burned down and she said keep important stuff in your deep freeze. I don’t think someone would usually look there for something to steal, and she said everything inside her deep freeze was still intact.
      I don’t know what would be best to protect papers from humidity – whether you would use a few freezer bags or vacuum seal them or what. o