Bound by Love and Emergency

By Mary Falconer-Williams, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

Editors Note: September is National Preparedness Month. Nonstop massive disasters have kept thousands of American Red Cross volunteers busy for weeks, working tirelessly to provide food, shelter, comfort and support to people in need. Our work is just beginning; we will be providing support for weeks to come.In response to Hurricanes Laura and Sally, and the western wildfires, the Red Cross has served more than 1.2 million meals and snacks, and distributed nearly 190,000 relief items with the help of partners. While our region is not affected by hurricanes, we are not immune to disasters. Read the following blog article to learn how you can help keep your family prepared and safe during a disaster.

September 18, 2020- In the summer of 2018 my husband, my two small children, cat, dog and I merged households with my in-laws. One of the home projects I requested was a FAMILY EMERGENCY BINDER. This is a robust collection of personal information that can be grabbed in the event of an emergency, such as a medical need or if your family needed to quickly evacuate.

I began researching organizing tips to help us combine all of our pertinent information so that any one of us could know – at a moment’s notice – insurance information, medical details, and many other bits of information that we, ourselves, know but may not have organized. Drawing from a few sources (links in the sentence before this!) I came up with a format that would help four adults, two children, and two pets have all the necessary details at hand in case of emergency!

With so many other home projects needing to take priority, plus the start of school, birthdays, and other callings of life, my project was put on the back burner. Until a pandemic kicked it into high gear!

With this being PREPAREDNESS MONTH, it is the perfect time for you to start a Family Emergency Binder for your home. Pro tip: If you have aging parents, be sure to add a section for them so that you have all their information at your fingertips as well!

If you want to go full-on-organizing-crazy, like me, here are some things you’ll need in your next Amazon order:

  • 3” Binder*
  • 3-hole-punch (if you don’t already own one) *
  • Printer (or access to a printer)
  • Ink for the printer!
  • Label maker
  • A set of 5-tab binder dividers (I like the Avery Big Tab for the section headers) *
  • A set of binder dividers that matches the number of people in your household (for us – 4 adults + 2 kids +2 pets = an 8-tab pack)
  • Fire-proof/water-proof safe*
  • A USB* stick

Otherwise, you can just pick up the starred items.

Once you’ve collected and sorted all your information, you’ll want to save a digital copy to a USB stick. Put the USB in your safe as backup!

Keep in mind that this is not a “one-time” project! You will need to update this binder as things in your life (medicines, insurance providers, etc.). But once you’ve done the initial lift of gathering and recording all of the information in one binder, you will have the security that comes from knowing that if an emergency happens you and your family will have a primary source to help you stay prepared.

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