How to put together an emergency binder and why you need one + a free checklist

Our family had to evacuate twice in 5 months. Once when Hurricane Sally hit the Gulf Coast hard and fast, leaving us without electricity and running water and destroying many, many homes. The second time was in February of 2021 when our family was stuck in Texas during a snowstorm, also without power, while temperatures dipped into the negatives.

Both times were scary and both times I didn’t feel prepared.

I sat down this week to update our emergency binder, a key component in our family’s overall safety plan and I thought I would walk through how to make a binder and why you need one.

What is an emergency binder?

Our family’s emergency binder includes:

  • all the important info we would need to file an insurance claim if our home was destroyed

  • any medical information a person would need to make medical decisions on behalf of a family member

  • and any information a child’s guardian would need to step in in the event something happened to my husband or me

  • financial information and how to access accounts should something happen to my husband or me.

  • Our wills and final wishes.

I know the idea of preparing for death or a major disaster is not a warm and fuzzy feeling. But part of me loving my family well is making sure they are taken care of. If I were to die suddenly would my husband know how to close down my business and file for my life insurance, access my retirement accounts, and liquidate any of my personal assets? That’s part of the purpose of a binder.

And having it in a binder makes it very portable. So if your family has to evacuate, you simply pick up your binder, and away you go.

How do I make one?

You will need a three-ring binder

Copies of personal documents


  • Birth certificates

  • Social security cards

  • Copies of photo IDs

  • Copies of your insurance card

  • Bank information

  • Passwords

  • Medical information

  • Emergency contacts

  • Personal information on each family member (how to ID them should something happen)

  • Steps to file an insurance claim

  • Home inventory

  • Copies of your will and final wishes

If all of that sounds like a lot of work I have premade binder forms you can simply fill out available here.

Learn more

And a FREE checklist to help you.

Free Checklist

Store it in a safe place

I highly recommend storing it in a fire-proof box where it is both locked up and safe from a disaster. Communicate with your partner where the binder is and tell whoever you have assigned as your executor for your will.

Having a binder is part of your overall safety plan. As you’re putting it together talk to your kids about where to go if your house is on fire, discuss with your partner who you want to take care of your kids should you both pass, and if you’ve not made a will now is the time to do so.

Keeping things on “the cloud”

I also highly, highly recommend that you scan a copy of your important documents and store them digitally somewhere. You can use your iPhone’s notes function to scan, it’s very simple.

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