A Prepping Essential: The Grab-n-Go Binder

by | Oct 25, 2009 | Emergency Preparedness, The Survival Mom | 5 comments

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    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.

    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?

    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.

    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.  The binder you create will be unique to your family, but here are some suggestions to get you started.

    Label a divider for each of the following sections, and then begin inserting copies of your documents.

    Financial Documents
    1.  copies of the fronts and backs of debit/credit cards
    2.  copies of house and car titles
    3.  copy of your will or living trust
    4.  names, addresses and phone numbers of all banks
    5.  other important documents related to employment and/or a family business
    6.  copies of your insurance policies (life, health, auto, homeowners, etc.)

    Personal Documents
    1.  names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of relatives and close friends
    2.  copies of:
    *  marriage license
    *  birth certificates
    *  drivers licenses
    *  CCW permits
    *  pet vaccine records
    *  passports
    *  Social Security cards
    3.  a list of firearm serial numbers
    4.  legal documents pertaining to child custody or adoption
    5.  recent photos of each family member and each pet
    6.  color photos of your house and each room in the house
    7.  photos of anything of particular value
    8.  military documents
    9.  diplomas and transcripts
    10. appraisals

    Medical Documents
    1.  copy of health insurance cards
    2.  a list of blood types for each family member
    3.  names, addresses and phone numbers of all doctors
    4.  medical histories of each family member
    5.  immunization records
    6.  a list of current prescriptions, dosage, and pharmacy contact information

    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 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.

    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 Grab-n-Go Binder.  Emergencies arrive unexpectedly.  A Grab-n-Go Binder is one way you can prepare for them ahead of time.


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      1. This seems like a dangerous item to misplace or lose.  Or if it gets in the wrong person’s hands for a few minutes.  How do you protect this?
        What about an encrypted thumb drive with this data instead?

      2. Joel, I agree, it is certainly something you do not want to lose. This is something to keep in a safe or very well hidden in your home.

        Perhaps having an encrypted thumb drive as a secondary backup would not be a bad idea. The problem is, if we’re talking total SHTF scenario you may not have a working computer.

        In 2008, after Hurricane Ike, the entire city of Houston, especially the outer burbs were shut down… Literally, no services because of a loss of electricity. No ATMs, no grocery stores, no gas, no internet, no TV, no computers.

        We had a generator and back up gas, so we were good to go on our end. Once the cell phone towers came up, which was fairly quickly, I had access to the web via a tethered cell phone connection. We used the generator to charge the computer, cell and other battery operated devices. It was 14 days before they get the electricity running again… and we were actually the lucky ones in our area, with some communities going a month or more. My father in-law had TV/internet via satellite, so he was solid all the way through, pretty much.

        On a side note.. it was kinda crazy… there were people with no water, no food, nothing! I can only imagine how bad a real SHTF scenario would be, when there are no emergency services available. It wouldn’t be long before people start losing it completely (some were getting close in just those 2 weeks!).

      3. I’m not sure what happened to my first comment attempt, but I’ll try again.
        The binder idea is excellent.  Could it be secured by wire or small chain to a piece of luggage, bug out bag, etc., which would automatically be grabbed first?  That way it wouldn’t be so easy for someone to carry off.  A little carabiner or latch of some kind could be used to detach it from the bag when necesary.  Yes, maybe having the same info on a thumb drive is good, too, but you’re right about the possibility of not being able to access it.

      4. I really like this idea.  Really, the worst items are the credit card copies and SSNs.  I have most of these in an encrypted spreadsheet, but my first thought for paper copy (yes I think you should have) would be to scramble the numbers (+1 for all, swap last 2 or some such).  Photo copies not bad to have, but I wouldn’t keep in an unsecured binder.

      5. good idea, i have just found this site, most of my information i keep in a safe deposit box. i have a copy in a manila folder i have double laminated.

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