Disaster Preparedness – Home & Life Binder

When disaster strikes, it can be horrible. But, being unprepared can be devastating. One way to organize for an emergency is to create a Home & Life Binder. I highly recommend it to all my client’s seeking organizational assistance.

The binder holds the most critical information for your home and family. It should be kept in a safe, yet handy place. Assuming you have a computer and printer, creating the binder is a fairly easy DIY project – here’s how step-by-step:

Materials Needed:
One 1-2 inch three-ring binder, index divider tabs (at least seven), three hole punch

Divider Categories and Suggested Content:
1. Emergency Contacts – family members full names & DOB, pets, contact name, phone numbers and email addresses for neighbors, relatives, caregivers, local hospitals, fire station, local police department, work and schools. copies of social security cards and driver’s license.

2. Home Statistics – address, cross street, county, neighborhood, realtor, square footage (inside & out), year built, # of bedrooms, bathrooms, appliances (date purchased), cooling & heating features, home maintenance list (plumber, electrician, roofer, etc.), ulitity providers (gas, water, electric, trash, phone, internet, cable)

3. Home Inventory – list articles with descriptions, serial #s, purchase date, cost and value. attach receipts, appraisals, warranties. include photos of valuable artwork, antiques, jewelry, etc.

4. Health – contact information for all doctors, pharmacies, medical insurance (company, policy #, website & login)

5. Legal – wills, trusts, power of attorney, life insurance policies (company, policy #, representative contact information, website & login/password, coverage), deeds, titles.

6. Financial – banking, auto and home insurance, credit cards & brokerage accounts (company, policy #, representative contact information, 800 #s, website & login/password)

7. Emergency Plan – mapped out meeting spot, instructions on how to turn off your water, electricity, and gas. communication plan (out of state contact that can be a communication point if local communications are inoperable), location of emergency kit (advanced first aid kit, extra clothing and shoes, flashlights and batteries, water and non-perishable food for three days, cash, a solar and battery-operated radio). For more disaster preparedness advice go to http://www.ready.gov/

If you are not the DIY type or need some motivation, here’s a comprehensive organizing binder called Life.doc by Buttoned Up.

The Life.doc Binder has eight sections including:

•Family Basics
•Caregiver Information
•In Sickness & Health
•Dollars & Sense
•Emergency Plan
•Home Sweet Home

You can fill out the Life.doc pages by hand, or use the included CD Rom to do the data entry on your computer, then feed the Life.doc pages into your printer and print out the completed forms. The Life.doc Binder can be purchased at see Jane work.

This is a project that is frankly not fun to do, but will make you happy and at peace once you are finished!

*images from see Jane work and Flickr.
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8 Responses to Disaster Preparedness – Home & Life Binder

  1. getbuttonedup July 16, 2009 at 5:31 pm #

    Thanks so much for the shout out for our Life.doc. It is a great road map to do what you are saying is so important. Ready.gov has so many great easy tips as well.
    Alicia Rockmore

  2. Cristin July 16, 2009 at 1:05 am #

    Heather – I am sorry to hear your home was robbed. That must have been a disturbing experience. Hopefully you and your family were not in the home at the time.


  3. Heather July 16, 2009 at 12:12 am #

    This is such a good idea. Our house was ROBBED last year, and I can't tell you how many HOURS I spent looking up serial numbers and proof of ownership of various jewelry items for our insurance company. Such a pain in the neck! It's just tough to sit down and actually find the time to do all this!

  4. Cristin July 15, 2009 at 3:48 pm #

    Averill brings up an excellent point and yes, original legal documents (wills, trusts, etc.) should be kept in a safety deposit box at the bank, with your lawyer or in a fire-proof safe.
    Thanks Averill for your great advice!!!

  5. Averill July 15, 2009 at 2:07 pm #

    Great ideas, Cristin! One thing I'd add though is to be sure to have copies of your wills, powers of attorney, living wills etc. also kept somewhere else (saftey deposit box at a bank, with your lawyer, etc.). You wouldn't believe the number of cases where the only copy of the will was destroyed in a house fire, flood, etc.

  6. Julie July 15, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

    You just reminded me we haven't stocked up our hurricane supplies…and the season has already started! I do have one lantern with fresh batteries at least…due to a lot of thunderstorms lately and it always seems the power might go off. (We have a whole hall closet devoted to hurricane supplies here…we are in south Florida).

    Good info you have here! Thanks!

  7. Rachel Follett July 15, 2009 at 8:03 am #

    This is a great idea. I should definitely do this. Thank you for the info.

  8. Maria Killam July 15, 2009 at 5:46 am #

    So smart to do this stuff and ahead of time, too many people wait until after something happens before they get organized. Great post!