A Good Idea

There are times when Ray or I will see something really cool or useful and we’ll say, “Wow, we should do that.” And we have every intention of doing whatever “that” is…someday.

Good ideas go into our notebook, phone or on the “list” and are eventually forgotten about…not necessarily because “life gets in the way”…mostly because we find something else we’d rather be doing or because, well, we’re just plain lazy.

While I was being lazy and just surfing through Pinterest, I found an idea I’d pinned AGES ago on my “Preparedness” board: The Family Binder. A binder containing all of the important documents and information about and for the family. Other names for it are an emergency binder, documentation packet, preparedness binder, etc.

This is something we’ve been saying we need to do for a very long time. I am committing myself to doing it by writing this post because it is important.

If you have or have known anyone who has experienced a tragedy such as a tornado, house fire or even death of a spouse then you will understand just how useful having this binder can be.

Binder Tabs

  • Important numbers: Utilities, poison control, pediatrician, doctor, tow truck, cab service, plumber, HVAC service (A list of these numbers will also go inside the pantry door should we need to find and use them quickly.)
  • Emergency contacts
  • Social Security Numbers/cards
  • Passports
  • Insurance Policies: Vehicle and Home
  • Essential information about each family member with pictures, including pets
  • Financial info with log ins and account numbers
  • Credit card numbers
  • Vehicle registration
  • Will
  • Medical directive
  • Marriage license
  • Birth certificates for all family members
  • Home inventory with pictures
  • Evacuation plan: What will you do? What will your spouse, significant other, children or roommate do in order to get out of the house quickly?

We plan to keep the passports, social security cards and a jump drive with the picture inventory in a zippered pouch that is made to snap into a three ring binder. We also plan to review and update the family binder at least yearly, if not more often.


We were a little bit leery of putting all of this information together in one spot. What if this binder was found by a criminal-type? That is why we plan to encrypt the account numbers, passwords and such and keep the binder somewhere that it will not be easily found. The encryption will be something only Ray and I know which will significantly lessen the risk of having this information all together.

The home inventory is especially important. We recently had a tornado come through our community. So many people lost their homes and their belongings. A few friends are going through the process of rebuilding their homes and are having to document all of the personal items they lost in order for their homeowner’s insurance company to reimburse them for the things that can be replaced: furniture, electronics, etc. They have said that it is an awful, annoying process to have to go through with everything else they are doing.

Homeowner’s policies differ depending on the company you are with and the coverage you are paying for, so it is a good idea to review your policy with your agent and update it if you think you need more coverage. Having a home inventory with pictures and serial numbers could make this arduous task a lot easier.

Another important item is the evacuation plan. If you need to get out of the house quickly for whatever reason, you need to have tasks for each family member to complete. If everyone has a “job” to do, you will be able to get out of the house efficiently without freaking out too much.

For example, you might get the kids shoes on, your shoes on, grab the bug out bags and get the car loaded up with kiddos, a cooler of water and snacks. If there is time, your spouse or roommate might shut the gas to the house off, grab wallets and purses and get the family binder before locking up. We plan to keep a version of our binder in the vehicle in case there isn’t time to get everything.

Anything can happen: tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, home invasions, fires, etc. While you can’t plan for every type of disaster, you can make the recovery a little less stressful with a family binder.

One response to “A Good Idea

  1. Pingback: Follow-through | a pinch of homestead

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