What is an Emergency Binder and How to Put One Together

Did you know that 65% percent of Americans think a major disaster will impact them or their family in the next five years but 50% don’t have an emergency plan in place?

Imagine if something horrible happened to your home and you had to flee in a moment with your family. Or what if you passed away unexpectedly and your family had to still maintain the day-to-day life of paying bills and accessing your accounts.

Having all your important documents, other essentials, in one place could be a huge relief during times like this. But, let’s take a step back and take the time to prepare for the worst.

Good thing there is a perfect binder to do it – The Emergency Binder.

If you have an emergency fund, you’re doing great. But what about an emergency binder with a plan?

What is an Emergency Binder?

An emergency binder is essentially an all-in-one grab n’ go binder with everything you would need for you and your family in the event of an emergency.

Think of it being similar to a “grab bag” that holds important items that you need in case of an emergency and you have to leave quickly. Except, an emergency binder holds important information about you and everyone in your family including medical information, financials, insurance information, and more.

Why do You and Your Family Need an Emergency Binder?

As much as it is great to believe that you have full control over your life and what happens to your family, unfortunately that isn’t true.

There will always be forces out of your control like natural disasters or something crazy like a worldwide pandemic. And if 2020 taught us anything, it is to be prepared for the worst.

Don’t wish for or expect the worse, but absolutely be prepared for it.

Think of it as another form of insurance, reassurance, and keep some control intact in a world where there is no real control.

It is especially important because this binder can:

  • Prove your identity
  • Prove your residence
  • Prove your children are your children
  • Account information, such as passwords or the location of important documents
  • Information loved ones need to carry on in the event of your death
  • Help rebuild an entire life

So yea, an emergency binder is a huge asset to you and your family’s future and safety (and mental health too).

Imagine if a natural disaster happened tomorrow and you and your family were stranded after. You are already worrying about having to rebuild your entire life and on top of that, you have police officers questioning and doubting you.

You and your family might be Latinx and even though you are U.S. citizens, you could come across the wrong police officer who doesn’t like the way you look. That officer can make your life a living hell without a binder of your legal information to back you up.

If you pass away your family will have what they need to access your accounts online,  begin the process of collecting your life insurance, or even what bills are due and when.

An emergency binder can also have notes to loved ones or include your wishes as to who should care for your children while permanent arrangements are being made.

This binder will be a big relief if you or your loved ones ever need it.

Where Can You Get an Emergency Binder?

There are several ways you can go about acquiring an emergency binder.

The 2 main ways are:

  • Purchasing an emergency binder
  • Putting together your own

If you want to purchase an emergency binder, my favorite Emergency Binder from Smart Money Mamas is the ultimate go-to (and was even featured in the Netflix show – Dead To Me).

The Smart Money Mamas emergency binder is called the Family In Case of Emergency Binder (also called the ICE binder) and includes the following:

  • Household information (including children and pet information)
  • Information for non-parent caregivers
  • Medical information
  • Financial information
  • Key personal documents and legal documents
  • Insurance plan information
  • Need to know information like employer information, military
  • Information, website information, etc
  • Investment information
  • Burial information
  • Personal notes
  • And more

With over 90 pages, it is the ultimate binder to hold all the information you need.

Let’s say that you don’t need the full binder, don’t have kids, or have a leaner list of things to keep track of. You can use only the parts of the binder that apply to you or take a look at templates on Etsy.

How to Create Your Own Emergency Binder

If you are more of a crafter and a maker and don’t want to conform to someone else’s binder design and format, create your own emergency binder.

You can use templates from Etsy as inspiration or even purchase some as an aid for the pages that you like the format of and create the information pages that would better fit your situation.

First, gather all of your important information. Then, draft an outline of all the different pages you’ll need to house that information and what is the best format to make it easy to read and use in the future.

Lastly, get to work and put your binder together! I especially love Canva for this type of project which is 100% free to use for putting simple printables together.

What to Include in an Emergency Binder

Alright, putting something together like an emergency binder can be a daunting task. It is hard to think of all the information you need to include and what makes information “important” vs. not.

Some key pieces of information you absolutely need are:

Emergency contacts: This includes phone numbers and other contact information such as family members, doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, school contacts, utility companies, etc.

Legal records: Drivers license, state identification, passport, social security card, gift certificate, visas, foster records, adoption papers, marriage license, power of attorney, house deed, vehicle registration papers, etc

Medical information: Such as prescriptions, allergies, medical history, immunizations, etc

Financial information: Like account information, investment information, safety deposit information, etc.

Miscellaneous: Pieces of information such as evacuation checklist, spare keys, maps, cash, etc.

Whether you are putting your own together or purchased a printable binder online, you will need the supplies to put together your physical binder. The pages by themselves work better when they are arranged nicely in a binder, ready for action.

Some basic supplies to shop for are:

  • Binder
  • Page protectors and dividers
  • Waterproof pouch
  • USB
  • Maybe a safe if that is where you want to store it

Where to Keep Your Emergency Binder

You want to keep your emergency binder in an easy to access place so when stuff hits the fan, you are ready to grab that sucker and get out.

However, you also want to make sure that space is fireproof, waterproof, and won’t get damaged in any way. Many people recommend small safes for their binders.

Choose whatever location is best for you and that you’ll even remember to grab it. Which brings me to my next recommendation: making an “escape plan” for you and your family that incorporates your binder location. You can even practice the plan with your family so when the time comes, everyone knows the drill.

Conclusion: Destress with the comfort of Preparedness

It is kind of like doomsday prepping – families prep food and supplies in the case of emergency. In this case, you are prepping your family’s information in the case of emergency.
One prepper plans on staying at 1 location with their prepped supplies to sustain their life while the other doesn’t plan on location but preps in the case that they need to build an entirely new life. But they are both preppers preparing for something out of their control.

At the end of the day, we are all humans craving safety for ourselves, our family, and some sense of control over it all. This binder helps with that and makes us sleep a little better at night knowing that we have our own backs.

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