Friday, July 13, 2012

Home Preparedness Binder

One of the first things I created to keep in my home was a preparedness binder.  Why?  Because in a moments notice I have all my important documents in one place and can access them quickly.  If I ever need to leave my home quickly, due to crisis or disaster, or have an emergency situation at home I can grab this binder and have what I need right at my fingtertips.

So what kinds of crisis/disasters would cause me to need to leave my home quickly?

•House Fire
•Ice Storms

Documents to Protect 

Most people are surprised when they make a list of all the important documents they have and take for granted. If these documents are destroyed, many more additional hours of effort and stress will be needed to get back to normal after a disaster. Take time now to review and protect these documents while you have the time. The originals of most of these should be in a safety deposit box, rather than in the top-left drawer of your desk at home.

You can scan documents onto a computer or take them to a copy center such as Kinko's and have them scanned into an electronic format. These can then be stored on a remote computer across the Internet far from your home. Of course, you must be comfortable with the security of the storage location of your emergency preparedness list. Make paper copies or printouts of the documents and keep in your binder so they are with you even if your home is destroyed.

    Home Inventory
    Insurance Policies - house, life, car, property, boat, ... Check that your policy covers you for disasters and that the limits are adequate since the last time you reviewed it.
    Wills - make sure you review and update your will occasionally too
    Property Deeds - to prove you own the house and land
    Titles to vehicles
    Tax Returns - first 2 pages of state and federal returns from the past 3 years

    Contracts - business you are doing or having done
    Stocks and Bonds
    Bank Account Numbers
    Credit Card Numbers and company phone numbers
    Driver's Licenses
    Social Security card
    Health Insurance Cards
    Prescriptions - medicines and eyeglasses
    Immunization records
    Phone Numbers - relatives, employer, insurance agent, doctor, pastor, financial advisor, repair contractor
    Birth certificates
    Marriage certificates
    Family Photos - most likely irreplacable so keep negatives remotely
    Cash - keep $100 or so in your emergency kit(small bills)
    Emergency Evacuation plans/maps (to include fire plan for exiting home)
    Child and Adult ID Kits w/photos
    Emergency contact information – local and out of state

    • Often the best response to an emergency and sometimes ordered by protection agencies is to evacuate. By leaving the scene before a disaster occurs, you are fairly assured of your family's safety and the ability to start again if necessary. Unfortunately, the attachment people have to their 'things' sometimes causes poor decisions resulting in loss of property AND life.

    •A housefire requires immediate, get-out-now, evacuation but most other decisions to evacuate include at least a few minutes to gather gear and pack up. Unfortunately, a housefire is the most probable reason you'll have for evacuation.

    •Meeting Point - safe place such as neighbor's front yard or lamp post across the street

    •Assigned Tasks - who turns off utilities, gets pets, collects

    •Emergency Contact - out-of-town grandparents or friend that everyone will call if separated. Memorize the numbers.

    •Family Go bags - essential items for short-term survival.

    •Personal items by each bed - flashlight, handkerchief, robe, sturdy slippers or shoes.

    •Emergency escape ladders in each upper floor bedroom.

    •Map of the house in your Grab and Go kit.

    •Practice Schedule

    –teach everyone how to shut off utilities

    –have everyone memorize emergency contact number

    –practice at least twice a year - summer and winter

    –combine this practice with your semi-annual food and water check

    I recommend keeping a copy of your house floor plan, easily obtained from your real estate appraisal, or if you rent ask your landlord for a copy, and that you label it so that firemen can tell what rooms are what and where to look for people that may be sleeping.  Keep a copy tacked up in a detached building from your home or give a copy to a trusted neighbor.

    I also recommend getting maps of your area, state, city, and county.  Drive around and make decisions about the best possible evacuation routes, not the ones everyone will be on, and highlight those on your maps.  Keep copies in all go bags and in the car should you not be able to get to your go bags.  It is wise to keep a bag of supplies in the trunk of your car.  Just be as prepared as you can be.

    Additional items to include
    •Instructions for turning off utilities
    •Food Storage inventory
    •Recipes to use for your food storage
    •Basic First Aid instructions
    •Anything that you refer to on your computer multiple times should be printed out and stored in your binder

    After being in Joplin, MO the week the tornado hit in 2011 I think it would be wise to know the latitude and longitude for your home address and any other places you may need to get to.  When a tornado wipes away all landmarks, street signs, and homes it is difficult to even tell where you are going.  They wrote on the streets with orange spray paint so we would know where we were as we drove through the areas affected by the tornado.  Here is a website where you can put in an address and get your lat/long.  Emergency Services personnel will have access to paper maps (hopefully) in an emergency situation and they can always map the lat/long to get where you need to go or find you if your Emergency Contacts give it to them.  Yes, make sure your emergency contacts have this info as well.  If no one hears from you then they will be the ones to initiate the efforts to locate you.

    Here are some links below that contain documents to help you organize your binder:

    Emergency Planning Kit

    Sanitation Kit

    Emergency Contact Cards

    Website Resources

    Adult and Child ID Kits

    72 Hour Bug Out Bag and Preparedness List of Lists

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