I’m putting together a couple of notebooks (might turn into more). The first is a Grab and Go Emergency notebook with copies of important documents in it. I’m thinking to make a second copy and leave it at my mom’s house or something so if my house burns to the ground while I’m away, I still have access to my information. Here’s a long ol’ list I got from a preparedness fair of what to put in it (most of these I don’t even have, so they aren’t going in mine, but I guess as you get older you get more of this stuff):
Proof of Identification
*Concealed weapons permit/s
*Social Security Cards
*Video, photos, lists of inventory (my insurance guy said to make sure I am in the photos or video–better proof that it was actually my stuff I guess)
*Receipts for major purchases
*Payment record for major repairs
*Appraisals of jewelry, other valuables
*Titles to vehicles
*Cemetery lot information
*Firearm inventory/Serial Numbers
*Immunizations, other records
*Prescription information (drug, dosage)
*Health Insurance ID Cards
*Physicians names and phone numbers
*History of illnesses, accidents, surgeries
*Power of Attorney for health care
*Power of attorney
*Attorney’s name and phone number
*Tax returns (2 years)
*Credit cards front and back
*Stocks, bonds, CD’s, money market
*Recent bank statement
*Personal address book
*Backup of important computer files
*Usernames and passwords for online accounts
*Key to safety deposit box
*List of where original documents are kept
*Extra set of car and house keys
*Map of area and phone numbers of places you could go in case of evacuation
*Numbers of gas and electric company
Whew. Obviously it will take a while to get all this together and copied and I still have to buy the notebook, but I’ve started with some of the personal identification documents. You want to get the information for every member of the family, so I’ll also have to catch my husband home so I can copy the contents of his wallet. I was thinking if the documents are put in page protectors it would probably be best to keep them whole and so they don’t accidentally tear out of the notebook, otherwise, 3 hole punch them.
Then put the notebook somewhere not hidden too deep, but camoflauged enough so you know what it is and can get it quickly if needed, but it doesn’t scream to theives to steal it (it has your WHOLE LIFE in it!)
My second (and maybe third) notebook is for any prep information I have that I want to keep. Remember if the power is out you won’t be able to look it up on the internet! So print it off and put it in a notebook. Right now I have a file folder packed with stuff that is going to go into this notebook so I can actually use it instead of being stuffed in a file where I’ll never look at it if I even remember it’s there. Instructions, recipes, information. Anything you think will be useful. Copy, print, write stuff down and put it all in one place.
HEY, don’t stop reading! There were some good questions brought up in the comments! Click on comments and read on! :)
Keep preparing! Angela
Subscribe to my email newsletter for updates and special deals.
Please be sure to follow Food Storage and Survival on Facebook which is updated every time there is a new article. You can also find me on Pinterest, and purchase my book, Food Storage for Self Sufficiency and Survival on Amazon.
Shop the Thrive Monthly Specials or my favorites, the freeze dried vegetables and yogurt bites!
Okay, I have a question, because my husband and I can’t decide. If there is an emergency, wouldn’t it be better to have all your ORIGINAL documents ready to go?
Because copies tell you what info you have, but they won’t fly if you need to get across the border or something (because we live in Alaska, not because we’re fugitives…). Hee, hee!
And if you use copies, where do you keep the originals? In the house? In a different location completely?
What do you think?
Hey, that’s really a good question and I was thinking some of the same things as I was working on this. Most stuff on the list is for information (like your insurance policies) but if you actually had to go somewhere, you WOULD want your original drivers license, passport, probably even Social Security cards and birth certificates (all the copies of my kids’ birth certificates have “void” on them). Maybe put the originals in your notebook (of course your DL will be in your wallet) or somewhere nearby.
If you do decide keep them off location they should be in a place you have access to 24/7 (not your safe deposit box at the bank that you can only get to when they are open–nobody else will get to it there, but you might not be able to either). I don’t have a passport, but if I needed one I wouldn’t want to wait for a bank to open to get it! The bank is right up there with the store on places I want to avoid in an emergency. I’m not sure where I could keep mine off site, but maybe a relative’s house?
Probably makes more sense to keep the originals of important documents together (of course mine are in 6 different locations right now) and ready to take with you. In the notebook would probably be fine.
That’s my thinking on it, Any other ideas are welcome :)
I have copies of passport and birth certificate and everything. What can be notarized is. I couldn’t get the IDs notarized, but all of the documents needed to prove who I am and get replacement IDs are.
My documents are in a folder with page protectors, tabbed by section with a table of contents. Then, just in case I need a digital copy for some reason, I scanned all my documents and put them on a CD. That is in the folder, too.
Also, I have my notebook in my bug out bag, because I want it with me if I have to leave my house. In order to protect it from almost anything, I wrapped it in neatly in a trash bag and taped up the edges. Water isn’t getting in there.
D n C says
I have two notebooks… one with copies and laminated at that…and then the originals all in another place… so that way I can get that one i need depending on the situation.
I was looking at your past posts and saw the cores/peels from slicing apples, and that you compost them. I make apple jelly from my cores and peels, then compost them.
In case you’re interested, follow these instructions for extracting the juice, and then these instructions for making the jelly.
I’ve really enjoyed your blog, and have bookmarked it to come back. :)
This is a great list and the comments are excellent as well.
I would add one thing to the general list for identification: military service members and dependents should make copies of their military-issued ID cards, as well as their military issued or International drivers license (not just their Stateside one). Some civilians who travel overseas also have an International drivers license – they’d want a copy of that also. :-)
As for us: our originals (outside of what’s in our wallets, of course) are in a huge Ziploc bag in our file box. It can be grabbed on its own in an emergency (the baggie) or we can just grab the entire file box if need be. I have photocopies in each of our BOB’s – that way if we somehow miss a bag, no matter whose it is, I still have copies in whatever I *am* able to grab. Diaper bag, my daughter’s bag, an adult bag – each has a manila folder with the vital records in it. I saved space and paper by copying on both sides, of course. ;-)
Hi again. :-) One other note for anyone military (active, retired, prior service non-retired, Reserve or Guard) – keep a copy of your (or your service member's) most recent orders as well, or a DD214 if you're no longer in the service.
Divorced folks, especially those with custody of any children, might want extra copies of their finalized divorce decree & any applicable parenting plans. I know they aren't small, but usually the first page, the page stating who keeps the children, and the signature page are adequate in an emergency.
Hope that's of assistance to someone – these are things that have stood out for our family as I went through our vital records for copying; I'm pretty sure I'm not the only divorced and remarried military spouse out there. LOL
D n C and Melonie–thanks for the input! Since I’m just starting this notebook thing I’m glad to hear what others have done. Yep, sounds like your originals should all be together (unlike mine–I’m working on that). And multiple copies is a good idea also!
Joanna–thanks for the information. It reminded me that a couple of years ago I did juice the peels so I could make jelly and then didn’t know how to make the jelly so I froze the juice and found it two years later all covered in ice crystals so ended up throwing it away. Those instructions sound really easy though–I’ll have to try it next time!
We keep all of our original documents in a fireproof, waterproof safe. I recommend this as a good option to protect your documents in the event of a fire, flood, or other major disaster that wreaks havoc on your house.
I then scan all my documents (instead of making photocopies) and keep the digital copies on a flash drive (keychain size). This flash drive (actually I have two, one for my wife and one for myself) goes in our 72 hour kit (actually a bugout bag – 72 hr kit on steroids) in case we have to bail quickly without our safe and other items.
Some very good suggestions Connor. The flash drive would be smaller and easier to transport for sure. And your average house fire or flooding you could print them off anywhere away from your house that there was a computer/printer. What about a long term or widespread situation with no power (EMP for example). Wouldn’t you rather have hard copies for that? Or maybe that’s when you’d use the originals instead.
What about a long term or widespread situation with no power (EMP for example). Wouldn’t you rather have hard copies for that? Or maybe that’s when you’d use the originals instead.
Yeah, for long-term scenarios I would ideally have my safe with me (that has the originals).
However, I also plan to have a solar-generated battery to power small electronic devices, including laptops and printers. That way I can print and access other documents I may not have with me.
The only sticky situation I haven’t adequately planned for is an EMP. I have an old microwave that I use as a Faraday cage to shield small electronics from an EMP burst, so I plan to stick a flash drive w/ my documents in there as well, hoping that if that’s ever the case there will eventually be access to some computers not affected by the blast. And that’s only if I don’t have my originals any more, for whatever reason.
It’s hard to plan against all these contingencies, isn’t it? :)
Holy cow! This post and the comments are totally freaking me out! Angela, how do I get things done without completely panicking and getting overwhelmed? I feel so unprepared. I don’t even know where half of those documents are. AAAH!
Sharla, no panicking allowed. You don’t have to find them all–I don’t even have half of the things on the list and you’ll have even fewer since you rent. Just start with the personal ID–you know where your drivers license is right? Ask your significant other–maybe he knows where stuff is. Don’t worry, it will take a little time to round the papers up–it’s supposed to. I want my most recent insurance papers, so I’m going to catch them when they come in the mail this month and copy them when they get here. Just do a little at a time. Take deep breaths . . . in . . . out . . . in . . . out . . . :)
I keep a 3 ring binder in my emergency kit with all this information. I also purchased a pile of plastic document envelopes at Big Lots 3 for $1. Each persons pack has copies of their personal info, phone list, etc. The envelope snaps shut but is flexible enough to fold. I expect they will have to be replaced now and then but for the price they’re very handy! I also keep one in my car kit.
It took me the better part of a weekend to find and copy everything then sort it into the envelopes. Just remember to update insurance and credit card info every few months.
As a widow, I would add some things: I'm updating my notebook and my mother has a list of "things to cancel" in the event of her death and "who to contact" (e.g.insurance etc) as a quick reference.
Also, I've added copies of my nursing license and work ID. Not that they mean anything other than to see the numbers if I need to do so.
In a true bug out, even a 72 hr one, I'd be taking my originals, especially as I've lost a house to a fire along with all the contents, so I know the importance of easy access and originals.
Tammy at Dehydrate2Store.com seals her original, important documents in vacuum seal bags. Could do copies for separate bags so if there is a loss, always have one more. Waterproof, won't fall out of the document protectors in a binder, etc. Ever dropped your binder and all those loose papers come flying out? That's what I'm sayin…great ideas and great blog – just found you today! Where have I been?
I’ve read somewhere that a great place to keep these documents is actually in a freezer. There have been many testimonies by fire fighters that the rest of the house has been burnt to the ground, but the food inside the freezer was good, if not still frozen. Just a suggestion ;)
My husband is a former firefighter and I asked him about this. He said that in theory, it’s a good idea, but the insulation and the paint would catch fire and not save your documents. He said he’s even seen the mini fireproof safes aren’t really all that safe b/c he’s seen those turned into toast too. Just thought might appreciate his insights.
I scan all of my important documents and save them to a thumb drive which is always in my purse so no matter where I go, I have them with me. Flash storage is the most stable kind. It is generally waterproof, x-ray proof, shock proof (if you’re clumsy like me), and the most resistant t extremes in temperature.
Just a thought… I have to create a hard copy file for my nursing work…liscences certificates resume reference contact info… I actually have a couple and one on a jump drive. However, many of these documents won’t be accepted unless they are origionals or a certifed copy so I put all the small cards on a sheet and copied it a few times with a blurb at the bottem so I could get each sheet certified that they came from origionals. Haven’t had any problems with this. I keep one certified copy in my wallet for each of the kid’s and husband’s info; he has one as well with mine. I also have 3-4 copies stashed in other places like my safe, and several notebooks. It costs a little bit but makes it easier to replace them if the origionals were ever destroyed.
I do like the vacum seal idea though.
Just a suggestion: I have scanned important docs and emailed them to myself, as well as backing them up with Carbonite. I agree its important to have originals and actual paper copies, but knowing I can reproduce these files from any working computer with internet access seems like good plan to me. Thoughts?
As aside, I just discovered this site and would like to thank everyone for posting all this valuable info!
Wondering why you couldn’t get a second birth certificate and social security card instead of copying them. I know when I ordered my birth certificate that I could have gotten more than one. And you can also get replacement social security cards so just get one of those as an extra. Insurance companies will also print off a second copy if you request it. That way you have originals instead of copies of the most important documents. Sorry, driver’s licenses are the exception to that rule!
I actually have 2 valid driver’s licences. I lost my licence, got a copy, then found my original licence in a book I had been reading. (No idea how it got there.) So, you can have an extra original licence just by getting a replacement while keeping the original.
Glad you’re all thinking of gathering this information. Take a look at http://www.preparedineveryway.com and see a guide that will walk you through the process.
There is a great resource for what to put in the notebook at http://www.operationhope.org/emergency-kit. Most sites just list “important papers” but don’t provide a real list of what belongs in it . You should also have credit card numbers and phone contact info in your notebook. I also use a thumb drive but intend to switch to an encrypted drive within the month.
Another good idea is to scan all important documents, and PICTURES (which are irreplaceable) and that way you can have BACKUP digital files stored on a flash drive or disk.
Cheryl Medlin says
Great info. I have both a file box with originals and a binder with photocopies. The binder also includes an address/phone section for family and friends, as well as a recent photograph of each of us in case we get separated. We also have the information stored on a flash drive. I’ve been considering adding topigraphical maps as well.
Mia McCool says
Loved the read. Great insights in the comments. Will definitely be using this as a guide to putting my notebook together!
On the topic of preparedness – does anyone have any words of wisdom to impart on a certain spouse (*cough* mine) that understands the importance of being prepared but has no motivation to get anything put together? Seriously frustrating!
Thanks! I linked up to this in my blog post posted today about How to Make an Emergency Plan.