Household Docs

Don't search for hours when you need your car insurance policy, papers related to taxes or other documents. Put some calm in your life by organizing important information in one household document binder. It will make your life easier and bring frenzied hunts to an end. While putting it together, also create a family emergency escape plan to follow if a disaster strikes.

Get It Together

Put all your vital documents in order. Assemble a Household Document Binder that will keep all your important paperwork organized. You'll need a 3-ring binder with pockets, a 3-hole punch, dividers, clear binder sleeves and templates printed from the Life:Beautiful website.

Download templates for L:B-designed binder category forms, which will guide you as you place each document in the specific category where it belongs. This gives you a self-organizing system that anyone can follow when pulling together records, policies and personal information.

Focus on one category, such as Medical, at a time during the assembly process. Make copies of insurance, credit and ID cards, plus documents such as birth certificates, Social Security cards and passports. Storing documents in the order in which they appear on the checklist, opposite, makes them easier to find when needed. For spare keys and other small objects, consider adding a zipper pouch to the binder.

Also create a family Emergency Escape Plan for your family to follow in times of trouble, such as a fire or earthquake. Follow the tips in the Emergency Escape Plan section below, to make this plan.

Store your binder in a fireproof safe or lock-box at home. It's a good idea to make a second binder copy as a backup to store somewhere away from your home.

While having a completed document binder is a great resource, consider keeping only copies of birth certificates, Social Security cards, passports, housing abstracts, etc. in the binder. For safekeeping of your original documents, place them in a safety deposit box at your bank. Government planners recommend keeping 50 miles between your home and your safety deposit in case of localized natural disasters. Many people also like to keep digital copies of investment documents, legal records and bank statements saved in the cloud and on smart devices. Check out "The Importance of a Digital Plan," below.

Your Emergency Family Escape Plan

Putting together a Household Document Binder is a good first step in organizing important papers. A time when you might need this info is following a natural disaster. such as a fire. Creating an Emergency Escape Plan is another way to organize your family in the event of a disaster, so everyone in your family knows what to do. Brainstorm with your family about where everyone can meet, who to call, who to trust, etc., in an emergency. Here are elements needed in a plan, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Stay Informed Because a disaster can strike during school or work hours. everyone in your family needs to know about emergency response plans at school and workplaces. Discuss these plans with children. and let them know who could pick them up in an emergency. Make sure your household members who have smartphones are signed up for alerts and warnings from their schools, workplaces and/or local government.

Out-of-State Contact It is important to identify someone outside of your community or state, such as a friend or relative, who can act as a central point of contact to help your household reconnect when calm returns. In a disaster, it may be easier to call long-distance than to call across town because local cell towers can get overwhelmed.

Meeting Places For situations confined to your home, such as a fire, the meeting place could be a neighbor's house, a big tree or a mailbox at the end of the driveway.
If the situation involves your entire neighborhood, pick a library, community center, house of worship or family friend's home some distance from your home.

Vital Information Write down phone numbers for emergency services, utilities, service providers. medical providers. veterinarians, insurance companies and other services. Keep a copy in your Household Document Binder. 

Make copies of your Emergency Escape Plan for each household member to carry in his or her wallet, backpack or purse. Post a copy in a central place at home. Regularly check to make sure your household members are carrying their plan with them. 

Enter household and emergency contact information into all household members· mobile phones or devices. Download the Emergency Escape Plan template at Life:Beautiful website and fill in the final plan. Place a copy of the plan in your Household Document Binder. Save a digital copy in the cloud or on a digital storage device. Consider giving the plan to close family, neighbors and your out-of-town contact.

Talk to your family about your emergency escape plan. Hypothetical situations may frighten children, so focus on the specifics of the plan and help kids understand that it makes them safer. Give children ample time to share their thoughts and ask questions.
For more information about preparing for emergencies, go to

Emergency ID Cards

Take an afternoon to create Emergency ID Cards for each person and pet in the family, using our provided templates. Each completed ID card should include a recent photo, blood type, medical history, allergies and other pertinent facts. Store copies of each ID in your binder and create laminated versions for kids to keep in their backpacks, at the office and at the babysitter's house. Update these Emergency IDs with new photos each year for adults and every six months for children.

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