Image showing woman with her emergency binder

What is a family emergency binder and why would I need one?

You never know what might happen. You could lose your job, have a health emergency, or worse. You could survive a natural disaster. In the event of an emergency, you may need to get in touch with loved ones or go to the hospital for treatment and not be able to do so easily.

An emergency binder is designed as a place where all of your important documents are stored together in one easy-to-access location. This way you can keep it on hand at home or work and take care of any necessary business quickly when needed.

We recommend keeping this binder close by at all times so that if something happens you will be prepared! It’s also good practice to store copies of these documents somewhere else only a couple of trusted people know about.

What is a family emergency binder?

An emergency binder can be online or offline but the main idea of it is to store important information in a central place.

The two most popular methods for an emergency binder are: 

  • An online version using Google Drive/iCloud/Dropbox or whatever suits you best.
  • A printed version of your planner.

The main advantage of an offline binder is that it’s more likely to survive a complete loss of power which could occur if disaster struck your home or office.

Why do I need a family emergency binder?

It’s all about peace of mind for you and your family. If you or someone in your family is taken ill or loses their job, it could affect the whole financial situation for the family. 

Having your documentation stored in a single place will help to make sure you can cope with any unexpected circumstances that might arise without having to worry about where important documents are. 

It can be a stress reliever too. With all your important information in one place, you can be sure you are covered and ready to face whatever life throws at you.

How to create an emergency binder

Image showing cloud storage methods for emergency binder

There are so many options when it comes to creating an emergency binder: Google Drive, Dropbox or Apple iCloud are just a few examples.

You can use any version of these that suits you to set up an online emergency binder. It’s really convenient because then you don’t have to worry about storing all your needed information in the same place. You’ll be able to access what you need from anywhere with an internet connection and print out updated information. 

We recommend this family emergency binder available online.

Family Emergency Binder Supplies

If you are going down the paper route, here’s a list of things we recommend you use to store your key information in:

Family Emergency Binder Essentials

Best Heavy Duty Binder
Avery Heavy Duty View Ring Binder 3"
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  • One Touch Slant Ring
  • Holds 8.5" x 11" Paper
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09/16/2021 11:29 am GMT
Best Heavy Duty Sheet Protectors
Heavy Duty Clear Sheet Protectors
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  •  8.5" x 11"
  • 500 pack
  • durable
  • top load
  • reinforced holes,
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Best Fireproof Storage Bag
KeeQii Fireproof Money Bag
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  • Two Pockets
  • Waterproof and Fireproof Document Bags
  • Fireproof Safe Storage Pouch for Documents, Money and Cash
  • 2 pack
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09/16/2021 11:00 am GMT

Firebox

Some families prefer the peace of mind of having a fireproof box to store everything in. This box is certified to survive 30  minutes at temperatures of 1550°, which is pretty amazing.

Best Firebox
SentrySafe 1170 Fireproof Box with Key Lock
$39.84
  • Protects to temperatures of 1550°F or 1/2 hour
  • ETL Verified
  • Fireproof lock
  • 2 keys
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09/16/2021 11:09 am GMT

What should be in an emergency binder?

An emergency binder should contain all the items you need to survive in an emergency. It should have at least: Healthcare information, financial documents, insurance details, and copies of important legal documents such as wills or deeds to property.

Personal Information for all members of your family and pets

  • Basic contact information such as full name, address, phone number
  • Birthday
  • Social security number
  • Driver’s License or ID # (if applicable)
  • Email address
  • Identifying marks such as tattoos, birth marks, etc.
  • Height, weight, eye and hair colors
  • Basic medical information including primary doctor’s name and contact info, allergies, current medications, prior hospitalizations
  • Employer information including name and contact info
  • School information for children including name of school, grade, and school contact info
  • Space to attach a current photo
  • Pet information including microchip number, vet information, vaccination record, food type and feeding schedule, etc.
  • Birth certificate(s) for your children: all members of your family, both parents and any additional caregivers.

Insurance Information

You should also include key insurance information in your emergency binder:

  1. Home insurance policy number and contact information/renters insurance details
  2. Car insurance
  3. Other insurance – life and medical insurance

 Home Inventory of valuables

It’s really useful to outline also what valuables you have in your house, how much it is worth and where you keep the most valuable items. Keep an inventory of all your most important belongings, if possible with a photo included.

  • Item description
  • Date of purchase
  • Purchase price
  • Serial # or Model
  • Location of the item in your home
  • Receipt or photo for the item if available

Life insurance and medical insurance

Have the following information at hand also:

  • Medical insurance documents
  • Insurance cards for everyone
  • A summary of coverage information including co-pays, deductibles, limits, etc.
  • Life insurance documents
  • Copy of life insurance policy including company and policy number
  • Benefit amount
  • Name and contact info for the beneficiary
  • Preferred doctors and hospitals

Emergency contacts

Image of emergency numbers for binder

Having a list of emergency contacts in your emergency binder is a must; this could be anyone from your family to first responders and local authorities. 

  • Primary Doctor
  • Pediatrician
  • Dentist
  • Veterinarian (if you have pets)
  • Preferred hospital
  • Lawyer (if your will and/or trust documents are on file with one)
  • Accountant
  • Banker

Emergency contacts – family and friends

You need to leave clear instructions on who are your trusted contacts and who are the first people to call in case of an emergency. This should include your spouse, children, parents and siblings. Additionally you can also add a secondary contact for each person on your list if needed. 

Information to leave

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Relationship to you
  • Instructions for how you want that person to be contacted including any final letters that you have prepared for that person, etc.

 Home Expenses and Information

Within your emergency binder, it’s a really good idea to have a list of home expenses, especially if you do the expenses and your spouse doesn’t. This list should contain information about:

  • Water bills
  • Electricity and gas bills
  • Home mortgages and payments
  • Property taxes
  • Maintenance and repair estimates
  • TV subscriptions
  • Any ongoing subscriptions like: Netflix, Amazon Prime, internet, cell phones, etc.

For each of these you will need to include important details like:

  • Company Name
  • Account Number
  • Monthly Due Date for payments
  • Average Monthly Expense
  • Website, username, and password for online account
  • Whether or not auto-pay is set up for that account, and if so, the date of the bank draft

Usernames and passwords for websites you use

In our modern world, let’s face it, we have so many usernames and passwords for different websites. It’s important to leave a list of usernames and passwords for ALL websites that your surviving spouse or children may need to access after your death.

Plus, you should include passwords and codes for the following in your Emergency Binder:

  • All family cell phones
  • Social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc)
  • Home security system
  • Home safe
  • All computers
  • Wi-fi

Financial Information

Image of checking book and bank account for emergency binder

It’s important to include financial information as your partner or spouse may need to access your accounts. 

Include:

Bank account locations and login information for all accounts: checking, savings, and investment:

  1. Bank names and contact information
  2. Account number
  3. Login Information (username and password)
  4. Credit card numbers, addresses, and toll free phone numbers
  5. Paypal account info

Final preparations – end of life

Image of Last Will and Testament in Emergency Binder
Last Will and testament document

It’s not a topic we want to face, but this information should be in your emergency binder. It will make it simpler to communicate with family in the event of your death. You should include:

  • Your will, powers of attorney, and living will if they are already prepared.
  • Your final wishes, such as what you would like to have done with your body (cremation or burial) and where you would like to be buried or cremated, photos for your funeral.
  • Other post death instructions including the names and contact info of people who should be notified after your death.
  • Sealed notes to your family saying your goodbyes

Making an emergency binder is an important step in the process of making sure your family is prepared for any unexpected event. It will give you peace of mind to know that they can handle a stressful situation without paperwork being an additional stressor.

In conclusion

Your emergency binder is one way to make sure that your family knows the most important information and where to find it. It will give them peace of mind knowing what they need if something happens, who they need to contact, and where all of the financial information can be found. It can be your way of reassuring them in their time of need.

If you prefer to have one made for you, we recommend Smart Money Mama’s family emergency binder.