When life happens, it usually happens fast. In the event of an emergency, you might not have time to sort through the vital documents and items you need to deal with the situation. Having an emergency binder on hand can give you the peace of mind of knowing that when things get crazy, everything you need is secure in one place. Here’s everything you need to put it together.
The exact contents of this list will vary according to your needs.You may need less or more depending on what documents and items you want to include.
- Three-ring binder, between 1.5 and three inches. Even if you don’t think you’ll be putting a lot in it, it’s a good idea to leave some room for future needs.
- Dividers and tabs
- Clear plastic page protectors, to protect paper documents
- Binder pouches for items like ID cards, passports, and small amounts of emergency money
- Emergency contact page (printables available online)
- Disaster preparedness checklist (printables available online)
- Medical emergency response instructions sheets (printables available online)
- For horse owners: a section detailing your horses’ feeding schedule, any medications and medical issues, and contact info for your veterinarian, preferred equine transportation lines, and whoever usually takes care of your horses in your absence. A similar section can be made for pets as well.
What you put in your emergency binder is up to you. You can be as thorough or as simple as you like. If you’re unsure about what should be in your binder, here are some suggestions.
- Copies of driver’s licenses/State ID Cards/military ID cards
- Copies of health insurance cards
- Social Security cards
- Birth/marriage certificates
- Adoption/foster documents
- Immigration/naturalization documents
- Current prescription lists with medications names, strengths, dosages, and preference for generic or brand if applicable
- Medical history for any conditions
- Medical power of attorney/advanced care directives
- Immunization records
- Deed and titles to home and cars
- Lease info if renting
- Wills (copies are not legally binding)
- Any documents pertaining to power of attorney for yourself and others (copies are not legally binding)
- Insurance documents for your home, vehicles, and family members
- Any financial information you deem pertinent. If you’re not comfortable with keeping this information in a binder, keep it in a secure location like a lock box or fireproof safe.
- Local and regional maps
- Spare keys
It’s a good idea to have a secure location to store emergency information and items. Consider investing in a fireproof safe to store your binder, any emergency cash, and other valuables like family heirlooms and memorabilia. If you want to be extra safe, protect items in the safe with waterproof pouches in the event of a flood. You can also use a thumb drive to store any available digital copies of your emergency documents.