Make a Document Binder for Emergency Preparedness

Last updated 10/22/2019 | |

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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

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  1. marie scott on January 29, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    this is great advice, the only thing i can add is to always have a back for your hard copy. a photographer friend who takes wedding pictures professionally told me one time when he takes photos, he put them on the cloud then backs everything up to a sd card then he puts everything on a thumb drive and keep a copy in a folder on his computer. then he goes to a walgreens and makes hard copies of all his photos.
    (3*5 Prints)

  2. Anonymous on December 2, 2012 at 4:23 am

    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

  3. Carla Belyea on August 3, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    This is exactly what I have done because of immigration paperwork for my husband along with the other important things you listed. Great idea!

  4. Laurie Neverman, The Common Sense Woman on August 2, 2012 at 3:53 am

    Thanks for sharing on Wildcrafting Wednesday. You have one of this week’s featured posts –

  5. What Joy Is Mine on July 30, 2012 at 4:44 am

    Wonderful idea! So glad you shared it at WJIM this week. Thank you.

  6. Cheerios and Lattes on July 27, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Thanks for linking up, I hope you’ll be back this week.

  7. Anna @ Feminine Adventures on July 25, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    AMAZING idea! We’re just moving but this is going on my short list of things to do. Thanks for sharing it at Thrifty Thursday (I’m featuring your post this week!)

  8. Leanne on July 23, 2012 at 3:30 am

    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?

  9. Kim @ Too Much Time on July 22, 2012 at 1:28 am

    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. Joan on July 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    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!

  11. Cheerios and Lattes on July 21, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    What a great post! You definitely touched on some really important things to think about. I would like to invite you to share this on Saturday Show and Tell ( I’m sure my readers would love this post as well as some of the other posts you have on your site. Thanks and have a great weekend.

  12. Heather Graham on July 19, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    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

  13. Claiming Our Space on July 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    This is great. We have many items in our mini safe but there are always items that done’t make it in there. I would love it if you would share this on my linky party – Tout It Tuesday.

    • Brown Thumb Mama on July 21, 2012 at 11:57 pm

      Done! Thank you for the invite!

    • Claiming Our Space on July 24, 2012 at 2:28 am

      Thanks so much for sharing on Tout It Tuesday! Hope to see you tomorrow.

    • Claiming Our Space on July 24, 2012 at 2:29 am

      Thanks so much for sharing on Tout It Tuesday! Hope to see you tomorrow.

  14. Brown Thumb Mama on July 19, 2012 at 5:06 am

    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 on July 21, 2012 at 6:28 pm

      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 on August 24, 2012 at 6:26 am

      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.

  15. Jill of all Trades on July 19, 2012 at 3:01 am

    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!

  16. Anonymous on July 19, 2012 at 12:17 am

    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.

  17. Anonymous on July 17, 2012 at 3:16 am

    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.

    • Anonymous on July 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      Just remember to change out the medicine, etc. regularly so nothing is expired!

  18. EmilyInTheGreen on July 16, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    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!

  19. Melissa on July 16, 2012 at 8:20 am

    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! 🙂

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