Make a Document Binder for Emergency Preparedness

Several years ago, our next-door neighbor burned his house nearly to the ground. He put his fireplace ashes in a cardboard box in the garage and went upstairs to sleep.


Make a Document Binder for Emergency Prep:

In the middle of the night another neighbor pounded on our door to wake us up. Thankfully we did not have kids yet, but we had to get out of the house within minutes to be safe.

What did we take? I grabbed wedding photos and Hubby grabbed some original comic book art. If our house had burned down, would we have had what we needed for insurance claims, legal needs, etc? No. Absolutely not.

That’s why I want you to find time THIS WEEK to make a preparedness binder, in case you ever have to evacuate. No, I am not going to turn into some crazy coronal-mass-ejection-end-of-the-world blogger. But ya know–sometimes a girl’s just got to be ready.

Here are the things to gather for your binder. You may think of more items, or some of these may not apply:

  • Marriage license
  • Birth or adoption certificates
  • Home, car, life insurance policies
  • Will
  • Deeds, titles
  • Power of attorney documents
  • Credit card numbers and corresponding customer service phone numbers
  • VIN and license plate numbers of cars (might be on car insurance papers)
  • Passport
  • How to turn off the water and gas for your house. You might want to take photos in case you have panicky-brain syndrome.

This doesn’t have to cost you any money, and you don’t need to run out and buy a binder. A file folder, a big envelope, a ziplok bag–long as you know where it is in case you need to hit the road fast.

If you’re worried that the binder will look obviously valuable and it might get stolen, label it “Kids’ Artwork.” Put all the important documents in separate page protectors and put the artwork on either side of the documents like this.

Make a Document Binder for Emergency Prep:

In the end, our house was fine, although our neighbor’s was not. (He and his family were ok). When the house was rebuilt, they graced the front yard with a diorama of fake plastic deer. This is why I have no qualms about growing veggies in my front yard. Who’s going to complain?!?

Make a Document Binder for Emergency Prep:

To learn more:
Emergency preparedness: bug-out bag
Emergency preparedness: food storage

This article was featured on The Homestead Barn Hop!

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  1. says

    GREAT post! It’s a good reminder about the reality we face. And yes, when you evacuate, I’m sure you cannot process in the moment. I’m definitely doing this THIS week. Thank you! :)

  2. says

    Amazing – I am meticulous with maintaining my houshold management binder but never thought of this – I keep it all in a drawerall topsy turvy what a great idea to keep it in a binder disguised as kids art – at the same time perhaps also preserving some of your favorite pieces of your child’s art!

  3. Anonymous says

    If you are going to do all this, you should consider a bug out bag as well. A duffel bag with a change of clothes, money, medicine. Basically things you would need if you have to leave the house quickly.

  4. Anonymous says

    Wouldn’t it be better to keep most of the items in a safe deposit box at your local bank? You may not be home when your house catches fire, or if you are you may not be able to reach them. Certainly a notebook with important info is a great idea, but most of the items mentioned are important enough to be stored in a fire proof safe.

  5. says

    That is a brilliant idea to cover your sensitive information with bluff pages – like kids artwork. That’s the one thing that’s stopped me from making a binder – not wanting our sensitive info so obvious. I’m going to get started on the “art binder” right away!

  6. says

    Great questions and comments! Articles on bug-out bags and in-home prep are coming up.

    And yes, the safe-deposit box is a good idea if you have physical banks in your area. You could also scan the docs to a flash drive or store them in the cloud if you’re comfortable with that.

    • Kat says

      An encrypted USB might be good for this. Oh, I might add color copies of family pics on it and a few In my binder. Great post!

    • Jennifer says

      You can also keep a photo copy, or file copy if they’re scanned, at your workplace or parents/relatives house…where ever you feel is most secure. I work from my parents house and I have a hard copy & a flash drive there and keep a copy of their documents at my house. Both are in secure spots.

  7. says

    So much great info – I never thought about it! I lived through a similar situation in high school – a forest fire raged near our house, and we had to evacuate within minutes of seeing smoke. My mom grabbed pics, like you. Oh, how awesome it would be to know that not only do you have sentimental valuables, but you don’t have to worry about the necessities! Great ideas! Thanks for sharing… would love for you to join in on my Christmas in July event….

    Have a great (rest of the) week, and weekend!
    stringtown home

  8. says

    I have an 8GB flash drive for computer backup fastened to the rings in my emergency binder, as well as a list of addresses and birthdays.
    Thanks for the tip about disguising with children’s artwork!

  9. says

    Love the art work disguise. We have had tons of fire evacuations recently and this is really something that could happen at any moment-thanks for reminding me that it is worth a few minutes to be prepared! Thanks so much for linking up to Get Schooled Saturday!

  10. says

    I have all these items in a small fireproof safe…but after reading your post I probably wouldn’t even think to grab it! Thanks for the reminder. Even though the safe is fireproof, who really knows?

  11. Anonymous says

    Love your ideas!! We had friends that had their important papers in a fire proof safe in their home..then the home caught fire along with all on that street +other blocks. They called it a fire storm. The heat was so intense even the toilets were gone afterwards! No one’s safe’s were heat proof enough and all was lost in all the home. My sister keeps her info and pictures on a thumb drive and each of her children has a copy in their homes. Plus they have copy of her will etc. And a film of the rooms in her home and contents that she narrated with information on which relative made this and that and such. The actual papers are in her safety deposit box and the child who lives in town has their name also on the box so they can get the stuff out if needed. Sarah

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