But what about your identity? You’ll eventually need to prove you are who you say you are, and you’ll need a way to pay for things, too.
Now is the time to put together your bug-out book. Take your bug-out book with you in case of fire, tornado, flood — these are just a few things that can not only take you out of your house, but destroy it in the process.
What you need to make your Bug-Out Book
- 3-ring binder
- Plenty of printer paper
- Access to a copy machine
- Plastic page protectors
- Plastic card protector pages
Depending on how big your family is and how much information you put in your bug-out book, you may need a 1″ binder, a 5″ binder, or anything in between. I can tell you that my family has 5 members, we try to include every piece of information listed in this post (and in the free printable) and we use this style of 3″ binder with no trouble.
What to Include in your Bug-Out Book
If you don’t already have one made, it would be in your best interest to discuss a bug-out plan – what you will do and where you and your family will go in case of an emergency. Of course, this might have to change if disaster hits, but it’s good to have a plan. Make priority lists for the adults and older kids (put on shoes, grab 72 hour kit, etc.) and have maps with escape routes and contact points along the way in case you get separated.
It’s good to do a front and back side to this page. On the front side of this page, put your address and phone numbers, essential info for every member of your family (full name, date of birth, allergies, etc), phone numbers to all your insurance companies along with the insurance policy numbers (car, life, health etc), important emergency numbers (poison control, local sheriff, gas company, etc) and your doctor’s phone numbers.
On the back side of this page, you can put your family’s phone numbers (parents, siblings, grandparents), your spouse’s family’s numbers, local friend’s numbers, non-local friend’s numbers, and any other important numbers that come to mind.
Social Security Cards & Insurance IDs
You most likely keep most (if not all) of your identification in your wallet, but it would be a good idea to make copies of everyone’s cards to keep together in the book. Driver’s licenses, social security cards, insurance cards, even credit and debit cards could be copied and placed in the book. This is also good protection in case your wallet ever gets lost or stolen – it makes things much easier when cancelling to know all of your information.
If you were to lose a child (during a natural disaster or otherwise) and then find him, you may have to prove that he belongs to you. This would be especially true if your child was injured or incoherent and unable to recognize you for any reason. Having an older and a more recent family photo together is a very quick way to prove that this is your child.
Child ID Kits
This used to be all the rave back in the ’80’s and ’90’s. I haven’t seen it being promoted as much lately, but it’s still pertinent information to have. Include a recent picture of your child, along with their full name, date of birth, height, weight, hair color, eye color, birthmark descriptions, allergy information, and take their fingerprints. Print it out on card stock paper. Be sure to include the date at the top. Update this page every 6-12 months. If you were to ever lose your child, you’d want the police to have all their information as quickly as possible. I’ve heard horror stories of parents who can’t remember their children’s birth dates, eye color, etc. because they are so distraught with worry. Don’t let this happen to you. You might even consider including a DNA sample (a piece of hair would do).
Doing your own fingerprints at home can sometimes be difficult because of smudging, etc. Just be easy when you’re rolling the child’s fingers over the ink pad, and even more careful on the paper. Practice a few times on blank paper to get the hang of it. Another option is to get a fingerprint card taken at any local police station/sheriff’s office. It’s free at some local police stations, but sometimes they may charge a small fee. You just need to take a photo ID with you when you go.
Behind each of your Child ID kits (in the same sheet protector), you can keep that child’s birth certificate & shot record.
Adult ID Kits
If you and your spouse were to go missing or not be found after a natural disaster, you would (once again) want to quickly give authorities as much info as you could. It’s a good idea to keep your birth certificates, immunization records and passports behind each kit.
You should keep a written copy of all your log-in information for your various online accounts including banks, insurance, cell phone, school loans, Facebook, email etc. (Again, be sure not to let anyone know where you hide this folder!) DO NOT SAVE THIS ANYWHERE ON YOUR COMPUTER!! This information can be stolen much easier if it is stored on your hard drive. Don’t take that risk! It’s also a good idea to keep cash and an extra set of credit cards here.
Other Important Documents
Here are just a few things you might want to keep in your bug-out book, too:
- Property titles (homes, autos, boats etc)
- Insurance policies
- Copy of car registration
- Medical directive
- Marriage License
- Written Home inventory (and a DVD of a video inventory)
- Map of your area
Final Thoughts about the Bug-Out Book idea
While there is some concern about putting everything in one place, I believe there is an even bigger concern not having the stuff together at all.
“But what if it gets stolen?” – Well, suppose you camouflage the book? If you label the book “Important Family Information” it’s way more likely to get stolen than if it’s labeled “20 Year Class Reunion Photos” or “Newspaper Clippings”.
There may be some risk in maintaining a book such as this, but there are just as many (if not more) risks if you don’t have a bug-out book. You – as a responsible parent, spouse and prepper – have to weigh which risk is less scary to you. Personally, I think the risk of not having it is scarier than the risks created by having it. If your folder is very well hidden and does not call attention to itself, you should be in the clear. Why not keep it in a water-proof and fire-proof safe (your family lock box)? Then, if disaster strikes, you can grab the entire box and get out of dodge!