Preparedness Binder

Planning & Documentation for Prepping & Preparedness

Level 1 Prepping & Preparedness

I have added this segment “Documentation and Planning” to the Level 1 Prepping & Preparedness series.

Why? Because it’s not only helpful but it’s important to plan. Documentation will also serve as a reference source for useful information and actionable items.

Planning for Preparedness

In previous segments we talked about food & water, kits, First Aid, dealing without electricity, cash on hand, seasonal issues, safety & security, consumable supplies and gear.

It’s one thing to read or talk. It’s another to “do”.

Level 1 preparedness is easy. That said, most everything is easier said than done. In other words, you should make a plan and then put that plan into action.

Since Level 1 is simply acquiring enough supplies to prepare for up to one week disruption, I suggest that you re-read each segment and jot down on a piece of paper the things that you need to do or get.

Write it down!

Seriously, if you write a plan of action on paper it will probably be more effective. There’s something actionable about a written list…


Food (build a caloric supply)
– a case of beef stew
– buy a dozen cans of chicken breast
– buy 2 large Jif peanut butter
– etc..

– buy several cases of water
– several water storage containers
– buy a good water filter !important

– list the specific items that you need to get for your 72-hour kit

You get the idea… Plan and document what you need to do.

Note: Most all of this for ‘Level 1’ is simply buying more supplies. It’s not until we get further into prepping & preparedness where skill sets and other issues become more important.

Important Documentation

Even for Level 1 preparedness for temporary disruption, I still recommend keeping a hard copy printed list of important contact information. If you are in a situation where electricity is out for up to a week, your cell phones will lose charge.

Most people keep ALL of their contact information in their smart phones. And nowhere else. Few people remember the phone numbers of their contacts because there’s no need to anymore.

You may know from memory your primary friends and family contact information, however you might look at the list and write down others which may be important. Just keep it in a drawer or wherever makes sense to you.

Personally, I like organizing some of my documentation in binders. You might consider starting a binder for preparedness.

[ Read: Disaster Preparedness Binder ]

[ Read: Preparedness Level 1 – 4 Series Overview ]


  1. We purchased a pink colored binder in which we keep either the original document or a copy what we might need to be replaced. Here is a general list of items that one needs should the Puuft hit the fan. We use photo plastic sleeves & full sheet sleeves for the following items.
    Drivers license
    Birth certificate
    Pass Port
    Marriage license
    Vehicle registrations- Vehicle insurance documents
    Homeowners insurance- yearly renewal policy (at least the coverage page)
    Photos of family members with contact information(especially children-in case of separation which one does not anticipate)
    Furry baby photos & veterinary information
    Phone book with your family-friends data
    Phone book with key codes to your on line accounts, if you do not have an online retrieval for your passwords.
    You can put this on a stick, which is great but what IF there is no power or access to a computer system-jic.

    1. Oooh….I’m liking this idea, AC. I keep our important documents in several file folders, but I like the idea of large 3-ring binder plastic sleeves for some of these documents (car titles, birth cert, SS card, etc). I think I’ll convert ours over into a “Legal” 3-ring binder and file them away instead of having them loose in a file folder. Thanks for the tip.

      We keep a list of important phone numbers on a typed list that’s printed on card stock, then I cover with clear packing tape. Each vehicle has one of them, just in case.

      I would caution anyone about leaving online passwords anywhere ‘online’ in a cloud….Get a small 3×5 notebook instead!

      1. Modern Throwback
        A few years ago we purchase a zip up travel log that most truckers carry. Found it the other day, started transferring important data into it for the car, which reminded me of the binder.
        The binder is for grab and go when we are home. If we were still able to travel it would be in the safe. I like your idea of the 3×5 index cards in the vehicles also.

      2. Do NOT have a password book.

        You should use an offline password manager which keeps the password database on the computer and encrypted, so if the laptop/desktop is stolen the passwords are safe. You should have the master password to unlock the password database a line from a song or something similar with a few number appended. So it is easy to remember and you wouldn’t need to write it down but it is long enough(has enough entropy). Also for your email don’t keep it in the database and make a similar password. It means you’ll only a few password to remember but your overall password security will be high.

    2. Antique Collector
      Great idea on the Mug Shots, don’t forget the Animals you will need them for retrieval from the .gov if they are castaways.

    3. AC and all,
      We have a miniaturized version of this in a safe at home. Also includes real estate title paperwork and a couple of important business documents. We do not keep any of this online or on a flash drive, just hard copies. Don’t have much in the way of online accounts, still pay bills with paper checks. We’re pretty old-fashioned that way.

      1. So Cal Gal
        Like you we post nothing into the ‘cloud’, an I am not sure if I would know how to retrieve it if I did…rolwl.
        We like hard copy(paper)something you can hold in your hands as your proof of where you lived, who you are, and especially for our fur babies.
        Paper work that can not be replaced, is kept at a storage facility off site of this place all year round–jic

        1. AC, basically ‘cloud storage’ began as a way to store and quickly retrieve data as it applies to applications. At a very minimum, ‘the cloud’ is about data storage. Amazon has made more profit with their cloud service (AWS) than anything else, in fact, some analysts wonder if/when Amazon might spin their service off of their main business.

          Personal data doesn’t need to be stored using cloud technology — it’s not only over-kill, but it’s the internet. Duh….nothing is sacred on the internet. lol Cloud technology is basically a combination of computing services that are performed over the internet (not via an intranet or a closed network of some type). Speed and reliability are the big selling points because it drives customer/end-user satisfaction. If you’ve used Spotify or Pinterest, you’ve been in-the-clouds. :-)

        2. Modern Throwback
          Pinterest,,,yes found new construction ideas & materials on that site. I only use it to find ideas for updating repairs for our place.

  2. I am a file box person. I like the handle and that it sits squarely on a shelf. It is easy to move around. Just open it and all the topics are visible on the file folders. We have one for prepping and another for financials.

    Stay frosty.

  3. First, thank you for “restarting” the Prepping & Preparedness Levels, tis a good series for everyone not just those beginning.

    As far as Documentation, do NOT keep important information on your computer if it is tied to the Internet in any means, PERIOD. If you think Hackers or the .gov cannot ‘backdoor’ your information, well I still have that Ocean Front Land in AZ for sale.

    That said, yes, keep hard copies of every Important Document you have, and do NOT keep in the house or anywhere that may be destroyed in a fire.
    My Short list;
    Insurance Polices
    Drivers License
    Bank Accounts
    SS Card
    CC Cards (and the pass codes on the back)
    Medical Records (don’t forget the Animals also)
    Copy of your fingerprints
    Birth Cert.
    Proof of Residence, aka Electrical and Water bills
    Property Deeds

    The list could be a lot longer, but you get the idea
    Also as Ken has mentioned, Print off “Survival” information you deem needed

    One thing very important to remember, if someone finds these documents, you’re in deep poop, they will have everything about you and can, ‘CAN’ completely destroy your life.

    Lastly I agree 1000% with Ken (almost a first hehehe) , Make a plan, Manage your plan, and DO YOU’RE PLAN.

    Nobody is going to do it for you. What the heck ya waiting for?

  4. Ken,
    I add my thanks for starting up the preparedness levels postings again. We have such a variety of folks at different preparedness levels here, I think it’s good for all of us to have this info available as a natural progression from a few supplies for a short-term emergency, up to complex skills and “stuff” that would be needed in a long-term survival situation.

  5. After being in the photo restoration business, including restoration of documents, I would like to add that storing printed photographs, especially black and white, and documents with generic inks in ‘plastic’ folders is one of the things you really don’t want to do. All generic protectors are made with plastic that is quite acidic. I use nothing but acid-free archival sleeves. They are generally around 50 cents each. Using acid-free sleeves will slow, not eliminate, deterioration of documents. If your documents are already turning orange, scan them. They won’t be usable for long.

    Images. Black and white prints should always be framed/mounted with acid-free materials. Yes, they add up in the cost, but will extend the life of the image/s many tens of years. If the images are not framed/mounted, store them in acid-free sleeves. Color images, same thing. Otherwise, red is the first color to disappear, then yellows, browns/greens/blues will turn black. Scan them!

    For my customers that wanted their photographs scanned I saved the data on three CDs. One kept at home so that access is quick. One for a VERY safe place, such as a safe deposit box, and one to send to a relative that will put them in a safe deposit box. Preferably one living a few thousand miles away. There’s a bunch of people in California that probably wished they had done that.

    Digital storage media is changing far to fast. Would be a good idea to save any digital data to a ‘thumb drive’ along with CDs. And keep an external CD drive handy. Two is one…….

  6. Ken,
    I have made up a very comprehensive medical records book. If you would like to make this available to your readers to print out, I will be glad to send you a copy.

    It is handy to take when you travel or make an emergency trip to the hospital. I also give them as gifts.

    It fits in a binder and has different fill out pages which are then photocopied, filled in and inserted into the binder. It is categorized as follows: personal information, physical assessments, medications, diagnostic tracking, illnesses, accidents and injuries, vaccinations, therapies and programs, health facility admissions, appointments, contamination, significant life events, family history, medical address book, and medication schedule.

    Stay frosty.

    1. Ken—Please post Skeezix’s medical records book. I would love to make copies and give them to all the kids and grandkids. They could also come in handy to give to my neighborhood preparedness group, so they can be better prepared.

      We do have a binder and have many sections you mentioned and some not mentioned (my ham radio information). Ours is a 3 inch, 3 ring binder with photo safe sleeves. I put the origonals in the sleeves and reproduce them as necessary for use. It also contains a section for planting and lists of the heirloom seeds I keep stored for future use.

      I keep lists of food also but not what is in storage because it rotates in and out too quickly and the bookkeeping on just that alone would be a nightmare. Twice a year I check the lists against the stores and see what might be needed. If I add something not on a list I be sure to add it to the list, such as the BIG bottle of Absolute Vodka I purchased at Coast Guard Station Port Angeles yesterday.

      Our binder is in a very handy location sitting on it’s own carry bag. If we need to leave in a hurry I can slip the binder in the bag and get it in a vehicle or what ever.

      Documents are stored in fire safes, under my control, as I mentioned in a reply to CD in Oklahoma. Just don’t trust banks or the feds.


  7. Boy, talk about putting all of your eggs in one basket. I worry enough about keeping looters from getting my physical stuff hidden around my place(s) (except for my treadle sewing machines; they’re hard to pack off, not worth much, and most looters wouldn’t know how to use them anyway, so I don’t worry much about my treadles.), but to put all of my information and documents into one conveniently organized, labeled, and categorized binder, folder, or set of cards to have laying around the house, in my bag, or in my car, is the last thing that I’m going to do. That’s what Safety Deposit Boxes are for. Geez, do you guys sleep with that binder/folder/set of cards? Who watches it while you’re sleeping?

    CD in Oklahoma

    1. CD in Oklahoma
      One big mean looking fur ball that would lick you to death, but looks like she would eat you for lunch. If she starts to grruff, we pay attention something is not right outside, and we pay attention to her. Most of the time it is our neighbor walking their dogs by our place but they(both of our dogs) still go off as they think the other dogs are violating there territories, or anything else.

    2. I would also be very wary of putting it a safe deposit box at the bank. A lot of people do. But what if one day you go to the bank and there’s a chain across the door and an armed guard out front? And remember that the government can now possibly gain access to these boxes without your knowledge. Just something to keep in mind.

    3. I’m not a fan of safe deposit boxes either, at least not these days. I used to have higher opinion of safe deposit boxes, but I have so little faith in our entire financial system at this point that I wouldn’t be surprised to see any bank close, merge, or who knows what at this point. It may sound cynical, but a safe deposit box would be a last resort for me.

      1. I will not use a safety deposit box for any reason. As I have posted before, we lived in a town where the bank had a fire. The safety deposit boxes were picked up by the bank and a security truck and moved to other branch locations. The bank then started notifying the owners of the boxes where their particular box was located and what would be required to access the box and retrieve their property. All in their own sweet time by the way. And just to be sure everything was “okay” there had to be an officer of the bank and an IRS employee present at every opening. Some people didn’t get even a chance to get into their boxes for over a year. What if your wills or trust documents were in your box and one of you passed away before you could access your box. How tramatic on top of everything else.

        We use small fire safes, rated to some extremely high degrees. They are easily transported or stored. Yes they are more accessable to thieft but we stand between those boxes and a common thief. Keep in mind the government is no common thief and while I have the right to protect myself and my property and shoot a common thief I can’t shoot the government which can access my safety deposit box without my permission.

        Also consider grid down situations. That bank is controlled totally by electronics and now only will the doors not be opened, the safes won’t open because the locks are electronic. Or perhaps the bank is closed because of something their over lords did. Your stuff is held until the feds decide you can access it, which may be never.

        Nope, I don’t trust banks or the government and my stuff will remain under my control.

        1. preparednana
          After reading your post on the fire in the bank and the problems which occurred.

          Lo and behold a bank in the town of Paradise caught fire this morning. According to those who lived near the bank they said they heard a large boom going off an then a fire started. At the early morning report from the TV reporter, the fire marshal said he believed that the fire had not entered into the vault. But dh said when I returned from town it had penetrated into the area of the vault. They do not know how much damaged occurred as of yet, as the money was kept in this vault area, along with the safety deposit boxes.

          This why we no longer have a safety deposit box. What you pay for in rent vs your own portable safe(carry unit) and/or a large bolted unit. Money wise the home version may cost more up front but you have a whole lot more space to fill with puppy cookies and boring paperwork.

          We are like you if you can not touch it, it is not really yours. I feel for those who banked at this bank as there are not that many around this area from what I have heard.

        2. Preparednana and AC,
          I had thought about a break-in, but not really thought about a fire (or the possible water damage from a fire-control sprinkler system). And talk about feeling violated as an agent is standing over you as your open your box. After reading both of your posts, I am feeling a lot less cynical and a lot more realistic/practical about the whole thing.

        3. So Cal Gal & Preparednana
          The fire marshal reported this morning after the fire was totally cooled down they able to enter the debris field, the vault did survive after all.(really-snarkey) We will see…..if they let the public know!
          Still brings up the question of…..was it so hot that it could of damaged the contents inside the vault? It was ripe roaring hot from the news film that dh & I witnessed.
          Next will be the alpha soups showing up to go through the debis to see if this was an accident or something other than that.

          Something a fire personally said …….”I feel sorry for those who are on SS, as they had all their money in the bank”. Yes,,,,,,,,,,,what will they do? If they did not live through or recall stories of the depression they are going to be without funds for quite sometime.

          One can not write a check on a bank that no longer exists, or can they? This why we prepare for the unexpected things in life which we have absolutely no control over.

    4. Quote: “…except for my treadle sewing machines..and most looters wouldn’t know to use them anyway.” Endquote

      I do not disagree with this – its quite logical – but my home was burglarized and one of the things they took was my Singer treadle machine. Go figure….

      1. Bogan they probably took the Treadle because of the value. There are a lot of tv shows on now where they are featured. Everything from preparedness shows to antique shows to that one on storage unit sales. I’d look for it on ebay if it was recent.

  8. In our home safe are different media of the same documents, images and information-
    2 CDs
    3 flash drives
    1 three ring binder with sleeves (did not know of the less acidic sleeves, thank you).

    A waterproof bag (with a waterproof seal) sits on top of the safe as a dump, seal and boogie bag to stuff all the safe contents into, if needed.

  9. A number of years ago when I started to prepare I found lists of things I should have so I started a binder of lists that I could check off. This worked well & then I found articles on many topics I thought would be helpful during stressful times. I now have 5 lg. binders full with several topics in each.. I consult them regularly. But guess what. I don’t have all those things mentioned here like insurance, deeds etc. in one spot but most in the filing cabinet. Maybe I should at least have 1 file folder labeled baby booty patterns or something similar.. Learn something new all the time on this site

  10. Here’s a link to a site that has a FREE downloadable book I’ve found useful. The guy has created a pdf downloadable book called “The Big Book of Everything”. He has other books he’s trying to sell, but this one is free. Scroll down toward the bottom of his site for a link.

    I’m still working on getting mine completed.

  11. I keep printed and electronic (USB stick) copies of all my necessary documents at home (‘grab-n-go’ binder), and a keep a set at my work desk. Somewhat agree with NRP in that Cloud storage is not the best option. Cloud storage is convenient, however I have concerns with security and potential for data breach with Cloud services.

  12. Have you ever considered such plans will be used against you as plans of sedition and intent to do harm to others and a planned act of hording? This plan will be used against you to establish your “fringe” belief of self persecution and you will be lumped in with Waco preppers as a public threat. Lets hope it doesn’t come to Delta team killing you and your kids. If anything keep your plans on a highly encrypted thumb drive on a computer that has no web access, and a word processor without auto save.

    1. not so sure;

      Honestly I am concerned about being ‘labeled’ as a Prepper (UGHHHH), having the knowledge to self-sustain, having more that 3 days of food and water (Actually have 1 weeks worth), I also worry about having a Land Trust for my properties, a Will for personal ‘stuff’, I do worry about keeping my truck fuel tank above 1/2 full, how about knowing where my Deeds and Insurance polices are.

      I worry about these things about as much as I do going 56mph this morning coming to work, Am I breaking the law by driving 1mph over the speed limit? sure I am, and I will suffer the consequences if I’m pulled over. Are the things we talk about against the Law? I have no idea and honestly I do not care. If the Brown Shirts want to break in my door, kill me for 10 pounds of Beans, so be it. BUT I will still continue to prepare, to live the lifestyle till the day I’m toast and my ashes are tossed.

      1. I am not advocating doing nothing to prepare. I am advocating not putting all your plans in an easily accessible binder so when something should happen between now and then, these plans are used against you. This is as stupid as putting signs on your property says that you will shoot all trespassers twice and all survivors thee times.. The court will use that against you as premeditated intent to kill. Plans for the worst will be misconstrued by those Free Sh*t Army minions and supporters as taking and colluding against them.

  13. Speaking of the “safety” of bank deposit boxes, they are not waterproof. Many people discovered this after Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston.

  14. Going thru these older articles and there’s some good food for thought here. Many differing opinions as well. Lol

    My files are a shambles since the move and this is a good a place to start as any

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