My first post about preparedness on the homestead was well received so, here is the second installment on the subject of being prepared.
Let me begin by first making it very clear that I am not expecting a zombie apocalypse or aliens attacking, although I do believe there is more life in the universe, but that is a completely different subject all together. I am simply prepared for the situations, which actually happen all across the globe every year. I am prepared for natural disasters, power outages, wildfires, and situations such as these.
Today, I am going to explain the grab and go folder that I keep close to the basement door. I strongly believe everyone should have one of these no matter where you live. My particular folder is an accordion file folder, which has 3-prong pocket folders and manilla folders in the plastic pockets. I used to use a 3-ring binder with pocket folders and plastic page protector sleeves and I will explain why I stopped using it for a grab and go folder, but still use it as a household binder.
My accordion file has a section for each vehicle, which includes:
- Current insurance cards/ the insurance policy paperwork
- A photocopy of the license plate
- A photocopy of the registration
- A copy of the keys
A section for each member of the household which includes:
- Birth certificate
- Photocopy of all identification cards (driver’s license, student id, etc.)
- Social security cards
- Immunization records
- Fingerprints, a lock of hair, and a current photo
- A condensed medical record (list of allergies, medications, medical issues, etc.)
- School and College transcripts
- Life insurance, Health Insurance, Dental Insurance paperwork and cards
- Any other paperwork, which is difficult to replace (ex: living will, power of attorney, last will and testament, marriage license, etc.)
- Paperwork specific to each household member (ex: CPR training & first aid training cards, retirement paperwork, financial paperwork, a photocopy of cancelled checks and any debit/credit cards, bank information and contact numbers, etc.)
A folder for the animals, which includes:
- Immunization records and treatment records (flea and tick, heartworm, etc.)
- Tags and registration
- Each animal’s license and any other required paperwork
- Veterinary records
- Chip information (our cats and dog are micro-chipped)
- A current photo of each animal
A Homestead folder, which includes:
- The deed to the house and property
- Insurance policy and paperwork
- Copy of house keys
- A survey of the property, which shows detailed information about the property lines and the location of the well, septic, storm shelter, all water lines, and the lines for the fiber internet and phone
- A thumb drive with photos of all of our belongings, which cost over $25.00 as well as receipts for anything that cost over $100.00
- Warranty information for home warranty and all electronics, appliances, etc.
- Photos of each room in the house and photos of the outside of the house on all sides, all outbuildings, and photos of the property from Google Earth showing placement of house and outbuildings.
- A rough drawing of the layout of the house as no blueprints exist since it is 100 years old.
- The registration paperwork for the basement, which I registered with the town as our storm shelter because the actual storm shelter floods.
- Paperwork for all firearms
Finally, I have one other folder which is not absolutely necessary, but it is very important to myself and my husband. This folder is plastic has a special bag inside, which is waterproof. This folder includes:
- Every single piece of paperwork above scanned and copied onto a thumb drive
- Every physical photograph we have scanned and copied onto a thumb drive
- A copy of the other thumb drive mentioned above
- MRI, X-ray, and Dental X-ray disks
- Photos of my tattoos and Hubby’s tattoos (just in case)
- Additional copies of each of our last will and testament
- A set of keys to my in-law’s home and vehicles
- A copy of my in-law’s last will and testament
- A copy of the deed to their home and property and copies of the titles to their vehicles
- Emergency Cash (when a major natural disaster occurs, atm machines often do not work due to power outages and cash is king)
I realize this is an extensive list, but if our home is wiped out by a tornado, I won’t have to figure out how to replace birth certificates, social security cards, or any of the paperwork listed. I won’t be mourning the loss of baby pictures, wedding pictures, and all of those little pieces of information, which is often lost when disaster hits. I have spent a lot of time organizing and downsizing this folder because I know just how quickly things can happen. When I was 14 years old, our house caught on fire, it was an electrical fire and all of this paperwork was kept in my mother’s bedroom. Her bedroom was where the fire started so, much of these things listed were either severely damaged or completely destroyed. I have multiple copies of those thumb drives in every bag and emergency kit. They are all password protected and the entire family knows the password.
I am prepared because I have experienced disaster. It is terrifying and picking up the pieces afterwards is nothing short of a living nightmare. We created a plan as a family and everyone knows exactly what to do in case of emergency. The first thing they do is grab that folder. Then, the animals. The dog follows whoever is home around the house so she will automatically follow. The cats love the basement so, the sound of the door opening means they immediately run down the basement stairs. If it’s not a storm, there is a travel crate close to both doors we use as well as a leash for the dog. The cats go in the crate, the dog goes on her leash. If there is time, they all know to grab a backpack, or all of them, which hold 72 hour kits. There is one for each member of the household. Each of these bags contains supplies for 72 hours, copies of those thumb drives, and food and water for the animals. I may go more in-depth on those kits in another post.
I did say that I would explain why I stopped using the binder as a grab and go binder. I love my household binder. It contains everything I need to manage the household. However, it was not working as a grab and go binder because it contains some of my most used recipes, my master pantry list, my master grocery list, etc. It was constantly being used and moved around because it just happens to also house my bullet journal and our family calendar. This became a major issue because it was constantly moving around the house, which meant no one could find it if an emergency situation arose. That was unacceptable so, I put a copy of those thumb drives inside the household binder and transferred every bit of important paperwork to the new grab and go folder. The household binder still moves around the house and I often have to hunt it down when it gets misplaced. The grab and go folder stays in its permanent home on a kitchen shelf next to the cookbooks. Everyone knows where it is and I don’t have to worry about it getting lost because someone needed to add something to the calendar or needed a recipe or birthdate. I may create a copy of my printed sheets and dividers I created for my household binder and gift this to email subscribers and followers in the future, but I will have to figure out how to do that first. I will definitely create a post explaining the household binder and ALL of the contents. It really is a wonderful tool, which has helped my husband run the household while I was hospitalized. I deal with all of the finances, schedules, and pretty much everything in the home. So, he was completely lost when I was unable to take care of everything like I normally do. He had a written guide with everything he needed in a consolidated binder. Every question he would have asked me, was answered within the pages of the household binder.
Being prepared does not mean you are paranoid or fearful of something, which will never happen. It means you are making sure that you and your family are going to be okay no matter what life throws at you. It means you will all be safe, fed, and warm if a nasty winter storm knocks out power for two weeks. It means you won’t be struggling to replace all of your important paperwork if a fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, or earthquake destroys your home. It means you won’t be panicking about how to locate contact information for renter’s or homeowner’s insurance if something happens. Being prepared reduces those fears and the stress that comes with the fears, which we all have about the what ifs in our lives.
I have given you a detailed inventory of what you need to gather from the random places around your home. All you have to do is collect these items, place them in a folder, binder, or even a plastic tote or shoebox. As long as these items are all in one place and easy to grab and go, you have taken a HUGE step towards being prepared. If you already have a grab and go folder, do you have any suggestions, that I did not list? If so, please, share this information and help myself and others to become even more prepared. I sincerely hope this post helps you to become more prepared for any event, which would cause you to have to suddenly leave your home without knowing if you would have a home to return to because of natural disasters, house fires, or wildfires. I hope it gives you peace of mind. Until next time….