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Making an Emergency Binder

Learn how to make an Emergency Binder, complete with a checklist of what to include.  Know where all your important documents are in an emergency with an Emergency Binder.

With all of the tornadoes, fires, floods and other natural disasters occurring lately, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about how you can prepare your family documents in the case that you have to evacuate quickly. Dan and I have decided to make an emergency binder for the “just in case.”

In this binder, we’ve included birth certificates and social security cards for all the members of our family. Passports. Account numbers for our mortgages, utilities, bank accounts, credit cards, etc. Titles for our vehicles. Information on our insurance: medical, vehicle, and homeowners. A copy of our will. Basically any piece of important information is stored in clear plastic sheet protectors in the binder.

If an emergency happened, we would simply grab the binder and go, and we would have all the important documents that we might need in the aftermath. 

Where should I store my emergency binder?

Because of the important nature of the documents enclosed, we recommend that you store your emergency binder in a safe, safety deposit box, or another secure area.  Obviously, these are documents that you wouldn’t want someone else getting hold of, so keep them somewhere protected.

We’ve gotten lots of comments about how, by keeping all of the documents in one place, we’re opening ourselves up for trouble.  I personally feel that keeping them all in the emergency binder– which always stays in our safe– is so much more protected than having these documents stored haphazardly around the house.

If you don’t feel comfortable having an emergency binder, that’s totally fine.  Just make sure you know where your important documents are at, in case there ever is an emergency that causes you to evacuate your home suddenly.

Does it have to be in a Binder?
Some people I know have a box instead of a binder.  The actual mode of containment doesn’t really matter.  An emergency box can be useful, as it makes it easy to include jewelry or other keepsakes that are important to you. 
If you have loose items in a safe or another place, just make sure you have a bag with them, so if you needed to evacuate quickly, you could simply push everything into the bag and run. You wouldn’t want to be running around the house looking for things at a time like that!

Making an emergency binder served another purpose for us. As we compiled our binder, we talked about different accounts and our finances. Because I’m the one who takes care of paying bills, transferring money, and such, I wanted to make sure that if something happened to me, Dan would know what he needed to do, and where to find the documents he might need. 

He now has a much better idea of what accounts we have, and the fact that he knows where all the information is if he needs it makes me feel better.  I pray Dan never has to deal with that, but if he does, this emergency binder (and having a will) will make things so much easier for him!

Not just documents.  Include pictures!

Another thing I do to prepare for emergencies is to make a back up file of pictures and documents every 6 months. I actually burn 2 DVDs at that time, and those go in the binder as well. When it comes down to it, if my house were to burn, the pictures would probably be the thing I would be most sad to lose. (Now that cloud picture storage is common, that is a great way to keep your pictures safe.)

How do I get my free, downloadable Emergency Binder Checklist?

This part’s so easy!  To download your free emergency binder checklist, simply click on the picture below, and print it out.  The checklist won’t have a watermark across it, don’t worry!

Do you have a way of storing important information and keepsakes in case of emergency? What are some of the items you feel are important to include?

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Saturday 24th of December 2022

Thanks for the reminder that my own emergency binder very much needs an update after a change in marital status, a move to another state, a home purchase, new home/auto/health insurance, new health care providers, new will........ Some times I feel as though the only things that haven't changed over the last two years are my Social Security number and my eye color.

I keep a condensed summary of all this info in an actual binder. The documents themselves are stored in a fireproof/waterproof metal box. Your idea of keeping a study bag nearby is a good one. That metal box needs two men and a mule to move. So thanks for that, too.

And Trudyr's suggestion about laminating the most important documents is an excellent one. My laminating gadget needs to do more valuable work than keeping my favorite recipes safe.

So I know what I'll be doing the first week of the New Year!!!


Saturday 24th of December 2022

@Mandy, Wait, strike that laminating task. I didn't read far enough down in this comment section.

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Wednesday 5th of September 2018

If you or any member of your household is a veteran, it is crucial to have a copy of your DD214 in your folder. I have laminated all of the important documents

L.R. Glosson

Sunday 22nd of May 2022

@Trudyr, some documents should NOT be laminated. Examples: Laminating your Social Security Card, Fishing or Hunting License, or official ID may render them invalid. Your car title should not be laminated because you will need to sign it when you sell or trade in your car. Laminating legal documents may render them invalid or considered altered. In addition, laminating distorts lines, text, and colors. Cards showing that a person has had an implant such as cornea, joint, organ, etc. might be distorted resulting in harm when medical treatment is needed. Instead of laminating important documents, make a copy, but keep the original in a safe deposit box, fireproof safe, or in an acid-free envelope or holder. Place a copy of the document in your binder.

Jamie H

Wednesday 5th of September 2018

Thanks for the tip, Trudy!

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