Build your Grab and Go Binder

Spread the love

This post is by Bernie Carr,

What would you grab first if there were an evacuation? Your important and hard to replace documents would likely be on the list. If you haven’t done is already, now is a good time to build your “grab and go binder.”

What is a grab and go binder?

A grab and go binder is your handy document keeper that you hide in a safe but accessible place that you can easily take it with you in the event of a dire emergency and you need to run out of the house.

If you’ve already got one, it’s a good idea to review and update it at least once a year.  Lots of new documents may have been generated this past year:  insurance policies get renewed, cars get paid off etc., and it is a worthwhile activity to weed and toss out the old and replace with the new.

Normally we keep all our important documents in a fire/water-proof safe.  Our previous plan was to take the entire safe and run out the door in the event of an emergency.  Based upon what I’ve learned reading various survival sites regarding lightening your load when bugging out, I have revisited that idea and feel we need to keep the items in a binder in case we run out on foot.  The safe would be too heavy to carry!

How I assembled our grab and go binder

I found a sturdy binder among our used school supplies and added plastic sleeves to protect the documents.   I am adding the following documents into the binder:

  • birth certificates
  • passports
  • marriage certificate
  • personal records such as baptism, confirmation records
  • social security cards
  • school records-diplomas, report cards
  • vaccination records
  • vehicle ownership record/ “pink slip”
  • credit card statements and other bills
  • printout of address book
  • insurance policies
  • checking and saving account statement
  • retirement account statements
  • apartment lease

You will need to personalize this list according to your own situation.    For example, homeowners would need copies of deeds and home loan documents etc.  Needless to say, guard this binder in a secure place:  loss of this binder will lead to identity theft, since it contains all your personal and financial information.

It only takes an hour or so to put these documents together.  But having a grab and go binder will save you a lot of time and effort in the event of an emergency.

See the YouTube video here:

We are an affiliate of, which means we received a small commission if you click through one of our Amazon links when you shop, at totally no cost to you. This helps keep the lights on at the blog. Thanks!

Spread the love


  1. Thank you so much for his reminder! I had copies of most of our documets in a nap sack I hung in my Jeep. When the Jeep died, I removed my bag… and put it.. I have no idea where!!!

  2. Really? Baptism and confirmation records? Report cards? The others I see, but not these. You might want them for sentimental reasons, but they’re not vital to keep in your Go Binder. Can you explain?

    BTW, you might want to encrypt or code your insurance, credit card, etc. numbers. Take your numbers and make a code out of them in a way only your family knows. Make them look like normal info so if an ID thief sees it, they think they’ve hit the jackpot…but then it doesn’t work. Just make sure the family knows.

    1. the next stepMadeoneup,
      I actually had to bug out once.Ineeded to get back to a liveable life again,(with kids),it was very helpful that I had baptismal,report cards .I was pleasantly surprised that those documents got me through to the next step ( work,school,etc.)

    2. madeoneup, Not all emergencies are end of the world type stuff- most emergencies can be recovered from, such as regional emergencies. Having these records would still be helpful while starting over somewhere else.

    3. I recently had to get new Social Security cards for my children and the SS office would not accept just the birth certificate or the medical identification records– they required a letter of attendance from the schools. I was shocked but I can definitely see where school related identification is necessary.

      1. Hi Resa, I am surprised they would ask for school records at the social security office, but this is true, you just never know what you might need. Thanks for the comment.

    4. I used my binder two to three times a year for regular everyday stuff. Over time I’ve added copies of my college transcripts and degrees, all our shot records and list of medications we are taking or have taken along with any reactions we had even if it wasn’t enough to be considered allergic. When my dad was hospitalized before he passed away having his meds list was invaluable and ended up helping them determine his cause of death – two medications that were contraindicated but he was still given. All this to say yes a binder like this makes you prepared for ANY emergency or last minute school enrollment form not just something that might make you bug out.

  3. my wife and I recently created 2 such binders… we recently moved into an apartment where the former residents left a perfectly good laminator behind with a healthy supply of laminating sheets so I took advantage of the “gift” and took the short time needed to laminate all of our PHOTOCOPIED documents… the “real” documents are in their own individual plastic pouches in the other binder…

    land ownership documents would be a possible addition as well…

    as for the baptismal/confirmation records, in some states these can be used as alternative ID documentation… remember, 2 is 1 and 1 is none… redundancy is a good and necessary thing…

    pray for the best while prepping for the worst.

  4. report cards and other related documents would be for the children in ones family… it’s called “covering ALL your bases”…

  5. I’ve placed all my documents in one bag. I find it unorganized though, seeing all my important documents even if it is intact in my bag. I will surely make this grab and go binder tomorrow and organize all my documents in there. Thank you very much for posting this!

  6. This is an awesome idea. I plan on scanning my items also in addition to the binder and keeping the disc in my safe deposit box.
    I’m also going to take pictures of my condo and some “valuables” and put with the binder. You never know what will happen if you have to bug out and come back with nothing there. I would rather have documentation should we still have insurance companies up and running and have proof of my posessions!!
    Keep pushing forward everyone!!

    1. I find all the suggestion relevant. This really assists me in determining how I want to store the information.
      I have friends who have had their cloud files hacked so I’ve struck that one out. But scanning and storing on a device I will do. It will go in a container that will protect against weather etc.
      But I will also do up paper copies, put in a binder and store it somewhere thieves would never look but is easily accessible in case of emergency.
      These are all great ideas. I will work on my binder today.

  7. I’ve been on the fence about this..I have traditionally kept all my records separate from each other. This way, in case a theft occurred, I would likely be left with something to recover.
    I understand the value here, but it makes it simple for ID theft.
    I have recently been looking for a good fire box that is not too heavy to hide away and have copied all my documents onto a thumb drive..for whatever that’s worth.

    1. Hi vocalpatriot, That is certainly a concern, if the binder were to fall into the wrong hands. We keep these documents in a fire-resistant safe, that is out of the way. Your thumb drive idea is good, one that I have also considered as a backup. My only worry about thumb drive is if it were to get wet, or damaged, or if there was no access to a computer in a shtf situation I would not be able to get to the files. You brought up a great point also about keeping all is info safe. Thanks for the comment.

  8. Add to the list fingerprints, copies of licenses, auto titles, deeds, location of burial plots.
    A good time to do the annual review is between Christmas and New Years.
    Sending a filled thumb drive to a friend/relative out of state will keep your info available in a pinch.
    Agree about not posting to the cloud. Not secure enough.
    Anything you put on Internet is as readable as a post card.
    Last thing, buy the heavy safe. Keep it as bait. Put your documents and money elsewhere.
    Kudos to Bernie Carr for an excellent article!

  9. Great ideas. Thank you. My “tip” is: I found small items like passports and birth certificates can fall out of the plastic sleeves if the binder gets tipped on its side or upside down. So I put them in a binder pencil case that attaches to the binder rings. Zip it shut and everything stays in it. I also use a binder that zips closed so nothing else slides out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *