Now that you have packed your bug out bag, it’s time to put together your bug out book. This is something that should be carried with you in the case of ANY emergency (fire, earthquake, food, etc etc). This book will contain all of your important documents. It is unlikely that any documents you choose to include in your kit will keep you alive, but they will certainly make your life much easier in the minutes, hours and days immediately after disaster strikes. You may even find yourself using your binder regularly since you will have all of this information in one place.
Making insurance claims, searching for missing loved ones (heaven forbid), staying in touch with family and friends, traveling around the country and accessing your financial accounts will all be much easier if you have some essential documents at your fingertips.
I would recommend you keep this book in a safe and secure so it won’t be stolen should you get robbed, yet accessible enough that you can get to it in a moment’s notice.
What to Include
Family Evacuation Plan
If you don’t already, it’s a good idea to discuss a family evacuation plan – what you will do and where you will go in case of an emergency. Of course, this might have to change if disaster hits, but it’s good to have a plan. Make priority lists for the adults and older kids (put on shoes, grab 72 hour kit, etc) and have maps with escape routes and contact points along the way in case you get separated.
Important Phone Numbers
It’s good to do a front and back side to this page. On the front side of this page, put your address and phone numbers, “essential” info for every member of your family (name, DOB, allergies), phone numbers to all your insurance companies along with the insurance policy numbers (car, life, health etc), important emergency numbers (poison control, 24 hr nurse line, gas company, plummer, etc) and your doctor’s phone numbers.
On the back side of this page, you can put your family’s numbers (parents, siblings, grandparents), your spouse’s family’s numbers, local friend’s numbers, non-local friend’s numbers, and any other important numbers you may think of.
Socials & Insurance IDs
You most likely keep most (if not all) of your identification in your wallet, but it would be a good idea to make copies of everyone’s cards to keep together in the book. Driver’s licenses, social security cards, insurance cards, even credit and debit cards could be copied and placed in the book. This is also good protection in case your wallet ever gets lost or stolen – it makes things much easier when cancelling to know all of your information.
If you were to lose a child (during a natural disaster or otherwise) and then find him / her, you may have to prove that he /she belongs to you. This would be especially true if the child was injured / incoherent and unable to recognize you for any reason. Having an older and more recent family photo is one very quick way to prove that this child does belong to you.
Child ID Kits
This used to be all the rave back in the ’80′s and ’90′s. I haven’t seen it being promoted as much lately, but it’s still pertinent information to have. Include a recent picture of your child, along with their full name, date of birth, height, weight, hair color, eye color, birthmark descriptions, allergy information, and take their fingerprints. Print it out on card stock. Be sure to include the date at the top. Update this page every 6-12 months. If you were to ever lose your child, you’d want the police to have all their information as quickly as possible. I’ve heard horror stories of parents who can’t remember their children’s birth dates, eye color, etc. because they are so distraught with worry. Don’t let this happen to you. You might also consider including a DNA sample (a piece of hair will do).
A tip for the fingerprints: DO NOT use too much ink: practice on a piece of paper first!
Doing your own fingerprints at home can sometimes be difficult because of smudging, etc. Another option is to get a fingerprint card taken at any local police station/sheriff’s office. It’s free at some local police stations, but sometimes they may charge a small fee. You just need to take a photo ID with you when you go.
Behind each of your Child ID kits (in the same sheet protector), you can keep that child’s birth certificate & shot record.
Adult ID Kits
If you and your spouse were to go missing or not be found after a natural disaster, you would (once again) want to quickly give authorities as much info as you could. It’s a good idea to keep your birth certificates, immunization records and passports behind each kit.
You should keep a written copy of all your log-in information for your various online accounts including banks, insurance, cell phone, school loans, facebook, email etc. (Again, be sure not to let anyone know where you hide this folder!) DO NOT SAVE THIS ANYWHERE ON YOUR COMPUTER!! This information can be stolen much easier if it is stored on your hard drive. Don’t take that risk! It’s also a good idea to keep cash and an extra set of credit cards here.
Other Important Documents
Add a sleeve to keep all other documents you want a copy of. Here are a few suggestions you may want to consider:
- Property titles (homes, autos, boats etc)
- Insurance policies
- Copy of car registration
- Medical directive
- Marriage License
- Written Home inventory (and a DVD of a video inventory)
- Map of your area
Keep the entire folder well hidden and don’t tell anybody where!! I suggest keeping it in a water and fire-proof safe.
Concerns About the Risks
Yes, having all this in one place creates a risk. But there is risk no matter what. If you don’t have the folder at all there are risks. If you keep it in your home there are risks. You have to weigh which risk is less scary to you. I believe the risk of not having it is scarier than the risks created by having it. If your folder is very well hidden and does not call attention to itself, you’re in the clear.
The risks of not having this folder and needing it are much more common. Some aren’t serious, some are, but I’d feel “safer” having it. If you don’t and feel the risks outweigh the benefits, then by all means, don’t make one! If you are nervous about the risk and have some other ideas, please leave a comments below… but please, be kind! Being mean never helps anyone.