In the event of a natural disaster, sometimes you have to keep track of important information that will benefit you. It gives you peace of mind, so you don’t have to gather your essential files at the last minute. And sometimes during disasters where you need to evacuate, it’s always wise to bring your important documents with you, in case you really can’t go back to your home because it’s unsafe. In these situations, it will be beneficial to have a family emergency binder prepared.
What is a Family Emergency Binder?
A family emergency binder is a way to organize and store important information and documents about your household. It’s a collection of documents that you need to pick up in the event of an emergency, and in case you need to restart your life.
It contains personal information about everyone in your family. It includes legal documents, information about your assets, finances, and who to call.
Why Every Family Must Have an Emergency Binder
Emergency binders are a vital part of a family disaster plan. It must be one of the first things you pick up during an emergency evacuation. It can help everyone be prepared in the most difficult times.
You know that stuff happens. Sometimes, it’s natural disasters. And sometimes, it’s because of man-made accidents. You can’t always predict when these things will happen, and you certainly don’t have the time to grab everything you need to keep. Preparing a family emergency binder in advance relieves you of that stress. When you have your necessary documents with you, you can easily prove who you are and where you live, making it easy to collect benefits and insurance for disasters. You also won’t have to go through the process of retrieving those important documents again.
It allows you to organize necessary documents and information that you will need to have an effective grab-and-go binder for your family.
What to Put in a Family Emergency Binder
You have to know what to put in an emergency binder. If you’re forced to evacuate your home, your family’s lives may be at stake. Certain documents are needed so you can access funds, get insurance benefits, get medical attention, and cross borders after a disaster. It’s best to keep copies of these documents to make it easy to access in case you need to leave your home quickly. Here are the types of documents every family binder should have:
1. Copies of identification papers
Having proper identification can be super vital during an emergency situation. Copies of these must be included in your family emergency binder:
- Driver’s licenses or state IDs
- Social security card
- School and office IDs
- Credit cards
2. Copies of vital records
Your vital records must be kept safe at all times. You also need to have copies of these important documents:
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Adoption papers
- Foster records
- Military records
- Immigration or naturalization records
- Death certificate (if you have deceased family member)
3. Emergency contact list
We may rely a lot on our phonebook at our smartphone to store important contacts, but it’s vital to keep a copy on paper, so you have all the numbers you need in case your phone is left behind, has a dead battery, or damaged. Here are the emergency contacts you must have on your binder:
- Immediate family
- Close friends
- School contacts
- Employer and work-related contacts
- Local emergency phone numbers
- Local fire department
- Local police department
- Local hospital
- Doctors, dentists, specialists, counselors, etc.
4. Medical information
Medical information and records are important to have in case of a medical emergency. During a high-stress situation, such as a family member bleeding profusely or losing consciousness, this information can be the difference between life and death easy to hand to the doctors. Here are things to keep stored:
- Immunization records
- Current prescriptions
- Known allergies
- Medical conditions
- Medical history
- Health insurance information
- Copies of insurance card
5. Insurance papers
In case of property damage after a disaster, you may need to be able to contact your insurance company. Keep them and other documents in your binder to ensure that you can begin claim processes as soon as you need it.
- Life insurance
- Agent information
- Car policy
- Homeowner’s policy
- Insurance cards
6. Legal documents
Legal documents are of utmost importance – it can mean a significant loss and inconvenience for you and your family in the future if you lost it.
- Deed to your house
- Titles to your cars
- Lease information
- Power of attorney
- Marriage license
Here are some other important things to keep in the family emergency binder:
- Copy of emergency plan
- Spare keys to house, car, vaults, and storage spaces
- Recent ID photos
- Cash (it helps to have a spare in case of emergency)
- USB drive (for digital copies of photos and documents in your emergency binder)
Supplies You Need for an Emergency Binder
You need a heavy-duty binder for this one. Since you’re storing essential things, you need a sturdy binder that will last for a lifetime. After reading the list, you probably know that you’ll want a thick one, and a thick three-ring binder is just about the right size.
Make it easier for you to find what you need by using page dividers to label sections and divide them.
Keep your document protected and easy to access by using page protectors. This way, you don’t have to punch holes for every paper you’re going to put in the binder. And since it’s plastic, it means your documents can survive accidental spills. It also allows you to put multiple copies of the same document in one file.
For your USB drives, cash, and other small items you need to keep in your emergency binder, a waterproof pouch will keep it safe and protected. This particular waterproof pouch even has holes to fit in your three-ring binder.
If you’re putting up a family emergency binder, it’s better to keep it in a safe or vault. The safe you choose must be fireproof and weatherproof.