In panic situations, which happen around my house quite often, actually, people lose their wits. The extra adrenaline produced by the human body during times of intense stress, causes confusion and can even cause some of the same symptoms as a heart attack. That’s why you need a Grab and Go Binder.
Can you imagine the level of adrenaline in your body if you suddenly got news of a dangerous chemical spill in your area or that a wildfire had taken an abrupt turn toward your neighborhood? Officials tell you to evacuate now. Besides the kids, what do you pack up first?
Table of contents
What is a Grab and Go Binder?
A Grab-and-Go Binder is a vital part of any family preparedness plan, and is one of the first things you should put together. This binder will contain all of your most critical information in one place for any type emergency, even if it’s just a quick trip to the ER.
Unless you’re extraordinarily organized, chances are these records and documents are scattered around your house. Set aside a block of time to track them down and organize your family’s binder. Emergencies arrive unexpectedly. A Grab and Go Binder is one way you can prepare for them ahead of time.
How to Assemble Your Grab and Go Binder
For this project you’ll need a 1″ three-ring binder, a set of tabbed dividers, and a copy machine. A box of plastic page protectors will keep your documents clean and unwrinkled. Label a divider for each of the following sections, and then begin inserting copies of your documents.
The binder you create will be unique to your family, but here are some suggestions to get you started.
- copies of the fronts and backs of debit/credit cards
- copies of house and car titles
- mortgage information or any other ownership documents
- copy of your will or living trust
- names, addresses and phone numbers of all banks
- other important documents related to employment and/or a family business
- copies of your insurance policies (life, health, auto, homeowners, etc.) and agent phones numbers and addresses
- List of all bills, due dates, addresses, phone numbers
- Last year’s tax returns
- names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of relatives and close friends
- copies of:
* marriage license
* birth certificates
* drivers licenses
* CCW permits
* pet vaccine records
* Social Security cards (request a replacement card with ssa.gov)
- a list of firearm serial numbers
- legal documents pertaining to child custody or adoption
- recent photos of each family member and each pet
- color photos of your house and each room in the house
- photos of anything of particular value
- military documents
- diplomas and transcripts
- copy of health insurance cards
- a list of blood types for each family member
- names, addresses and phone numbers of all doctors
- medical histories of each family member
- immunization records
- a list of current prescriptions, dosage, and pharmacy contact information
Other Item You Might Want to Consider
- SD card that has a movie of your home and its contents as well as your children, for insurance and identification purposes
- Evacuation routes
- State maps and surrounding states
- IP addresses of resourceful websites such as:
* SHTF Movement.com is 220.127.116.11
* drudge report.com is 18.104.22.168
* the woodpile report.com is 22.214.171.124
* essential intelligence is 126.96.36.199
* nasa.gov is 188.8.131.52
* google.com is 184.108.40.206
This is just in case the government shuts down any websites you may use you can still look it up by typing the IP address in the tool bar.
- Place folded flat N95 mask for each person in the home and a pair of latex gloves in a manila envelope
With your finished Grab-and-Go Binder, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that your family can focus on a quick evacuation without trying to retrieve scattered family records.
What About the Originals?
What to do with the originals? It’s probably best to keep them in a fireproof safe or a safety deposit box. If that safety deposit box is a good 50 miles or more from your home, so much the better in the event of a tornado or other natural disaster. Also, be sure at least two other trusted people have access to that box in case you become incapacitated.
Update the Grab and Go Binder Regularly
Just as you updated your emergency kits and rotate your food storage, the Grab and Go binder also needs maintenance. I suggest that you do this at the same time as you update kits or perhaps when you change batteries in your smoke detectors. Stack this task with another that you already do regularly so it doesn’t fall through the cracks.
An emergency binder to prepare your college student for campus emergencies is a great idea also. Use this article as a template and customize for your student.
A Digital Backup
Each time you update the binder, or when you add or change something, backup all of that information on a flash drive. Here’s how it works.
Recreate the grab and go binder on your computer using a main folder containing sub-folders. One survival mom has subfolders for:
- The Cats
- Financial Documents
- Household Documents
- Legal Documents
- Medical Documents
- Personal Documents
- Family Contacts
She has scanned copies of my driver’s license, birth certificate, social security card, passport, marriage certificate, Veteran discharge DD-214, professional licenses, etc. She’s also updated medical and insurance records, funeral arrangements, and other personal documents.
The initial set up is a lot of work, but it’s worth it gathering all this information in one place. After you have all of this on a central location on your desktop or laptop, copy it to a cloud storage option, like Google Drive, and to a flash drive.
The Master folder on the computer is updated as needed. Each year, all folders are copied to the remote locations. Another option is to have the master folder set to update to cloud storage automatically when there is any activity.
There are a wide range of flash drives. Some hold just a small amount of data while others can handle large files. If you are putting family pictures on a drive, you will want a large capacity memory. This flash drive by SanDisk can be password protected and has encryption properties. It also comes in a wide range of memory capacities.
Having back up to the backup plan is essential in case of fire, flood, severe weather conditions, and other emergency scenarios. Squirreling a couple of these away with your essential information on them will put your personal information at your fingertips.
Find full instructions for making your own Grab & Go Binder in my book, Survival Mom: How to prepare your family for everyday disasters and worst case scenarios.
Updated and revised with contributions from Mimi Skinner.