Emergency Binders: What Should Preppers Put in Them?
You may have heard preppers talking about emergency binders. But what are they, exactly, and what goes into them? Read on to learn all about emergency binders!
What Are Emergency Binders?
Lots of preppers have emergency binders, and they’re one of the most practical and useful preps that you can make. Better yet, they’re free or very close to it.
An emergency binder is simply a collection of personal information, including important documents (or copies of them), phone numbers, contact information, emergency instructions, and records. Every family is different, and therefore, every binder will be different. This article is not meant to be entirely comprehensive – we just want to help you get started with creating your own binder.
Many people use a regular 3-ring binder for their emergency binder and get a three-ring hole punch for papers that they’ll want to add. Another more modern option is to create your binder digitally and store it on a protected USB drive. Consider keeping your original documents and a duplicate binder in a safe place not in your home. You could keep this with a trusted family member in a locked safe, or if that isn’t a viable option, even a safety deposit box in the bank.
What Goes Into Emergency Binders?
As I mentioned above, all emergency binders are unique, just like your family. Below you’ll find a general guideline for emergency binders.
Add a section for each adult that includes the following:
- Birth Certificate
- Driver’s License
- Marriage License, Divorce Papers
- Academic Records
- Military Records
- Firearms-Related Documents: CCW, Ownership Paperwork, Serial Numbers
- Recent Photo
- Immigration or Naturalization Documents
For children, include:
- School Records
- Name and Contact Information for a Secondary Guardian
- Recent Photo with Parents
- Custody Paperwork
- Adoption Records
Include medical information for each family member in your emergency binders.
- Date of Birth
- Blood Type
- Pre-existing Conditions
- Previous Surgeries
- Medications and Dosages
- Health Insurance Card
- Vaccination Records
- Medical Records
- Power of Attorney (Medical)
- Advance Directives
- Primary Care Physician and Contact Information
- Specialist and Contact Information
- Dentist and Contact Information
- Pharmacy and Contact Information
Don’t forget your furry and feathered friends. You’ll need their records if you have to board them during an emergency.
- Veterinary Records
- Medications and Dosages
- Pre-Existing Conditions
- License (if required)
- Rabies Tag
- Veterinarian and Contact Information
- Kennel and Contact Information
- Photo with a Family Member
It’s essential to have access to your financial information if you have to leave home due to a disaster.
For each bank or credit union account, have:
- Account number
- Website address
- Contact Person
- Phone Number
Also, keep the following financial documents:
- Photocopy of debit cards, front and back
- Photocopy of credit cards, front and back
- Mortgage paperwork
- Deeds to all real estate
- Copy of investment documents like bonds, stocks, 401K, pension plans
- Location of safety deposit boxes
- Recent statements from banks, investment firms, and credit unions
- Loan documents
- Life insurance policies
- Copy of professional licenses or certifications
It’s always handy to have the following legal information with you.
- Attorney and Phone Number
Legal Document Checklist:
- Living Wills
- Power of Attorney Designation
- Burial Instructions
- Beneficiary Directions
- Wills (Only the original, most recent, witnessed, and signed copy is legally binding)
- Binding Contracts
- Bills of Sale
- Tax Returns
- Police Reports
- Documents related to any criminal or civil proceedings
Homeowner or Rental Information
It’s important to have a copy of your homeowner or rental information to prove you live at your home. Many times, during a natural disaster, you will be required to show proof that you actually reside there before authorities will let you into your neighborhood. They do this to try and deter looters.
- Home Address
- Mortgage Holder/Landlord
- Homeowner’s (or Renter’s) Insurance Policy Number
- Recent Utility Bills
- Copy of Mortgage
- Copy of Lease if you rent
- Home Inventory
- Official Appraisals of jewelry, art, or antiques
- Homeowners or Renter’s Insurance Policy
- Photos of each room in your house
- Photos of expensive items like electronics, exercise equipment, furniture
- Serial Numbers, where applicable
- Photos of the outside of the home and the yard
- Home Improvement Documentation and Receipts
- Receipts for major purchases
For each vehicle, you’ll need the following information:
- Vehicle Make, Model, and Year
- Automotive Repair Shop and Phone Number
- Insurance Company, Policy Number, and Phone Number
Keep the following documents in your emergency binder.
- Loan paperwork
- Insurance policy
- Maintenance/repair records (not necessary if you use the same facility all the time)
Important Account Numbers
Dealing with various suppliers will be far easier post-disaster if you have the following account numbers and phone numbers on hand.
- Gas Company
- Electric Company
- Water Company
- Propane Company
- Cable Company
- Internet Service Provider
Important Contact Information
Since most of us no longer memorize telephone numbers, keep a list of the following numbers and email addresses.
- Next of Kin
- Guardians for Children and Pets
- Close Friends and Family Members
- Municipal Police
- State Police: Sheriff
- City Office
Be VERY Careful with Your Emergency Binder
Your emergency binder contains all the information someone would need to steal your identity and commit fraud on a massive level in your name. You must guard your binder carefully. Some people store theirs in a locked box in their vehicles. Others keep them in a fireproof briefcase-style safe.
Other ideas include storing them at the home of a trusted friend or family member or in a bank safety deposit box. Depending on the emergency, accessing the safety deposit box could be anywhere from difficult to impossible.
Finally, if you want to go the techie route, you can store them in the cloud on an encrypted server or a password-protected USB stick.
See How Useful Emergency Binders Are?
See what I mean about emergency binders? A crisis that takes you away from home would be stressful enough. Having all of this information at your fingertips would be incredibly useful in helping you maneuver through the aftermath.
Is there anything you keep in your emergency binders that we didn’t mention here? Let us know in the comments.