What is an Emergency Binder?
When thinking about emergency preparedness, each family should have a disaster kit put together which includes things like first aid items, 72 hour food kits, extra outfits, etc. An emergency binder is an integral part of this kit. Basically you ask yourself this question: Would I be frustrated or mad if I lost this item in an earthquake, flood, or other emergency situation? The concept is that should an emergency occur, you could grab your entire kit and run out the door very quickly. Having an emergency binder put together in advance will enable you to have all of your important documents and information with you.
What should I include in my Emergency Binder ?
social security cards
copies of your credit cards front and back
homeowners insurance policy
auto insurance policy
life insurance policy
internet passwords (banking, personal, work etc)
work / tax documents that would be difficult to replace
CASH – keep a variety of small bills on hand
I like to put each item in a sheet protector and add divider labels to put them into sections. This makes it easy to pull things in and out when you need to access them.
What should I store my binder in?
Even though the idea is to grab the disaster kit and bring it with you, there is always the chance that you will not be home during an emergency. In this scenario you would still want to return home and find your binder in good condition (especially if your original documents are IN the binder). We recommend storing your binder in a fireproof / waterproof locked box that is small enough to be transported with you in an emergency.
Do I store copies or originals?
This is a personal choice but we recommend storing the originals IN your emergency binder and store photocopies of them in a filing cabinet, and also scan a digital copy and give it to a trusted friend or put it in a safe deposit box. If your house burnt down or was flooded it would be so relieving to know that you do not have to go through the hassle of replacing those documents. If you already have a large water / fireproof filing cabinet or safe you may choose to just put copies in your binder so that you can have the information on hand in an emergency but know that you can return home and find the originals intact at a later time.
Remember that everyone's emergency binder may be different. It is up to each individual to determine what things are critical and would be very difficult to replace. Other things may be seen as simply a convenience to have on hand in an emergency. You never know what may happen so it's always best to be prepared!