What is a Grab & Go Binder?

A grab & go binder is a family emergency folder that contains copies of your essential documents, records, and emergency plans. It’s organized so well that you can find all information quickly. It’s geared specifically toward managing your family in case of an emergency and rebuilding your life later. It's meant to be simple, straightforward, and small enough to grab and go.

Benefits of Creating a Binder

  • Gives you access to all important information quickly.
  • Provides protection against fire or other disasters that could otherwide wipe out all personal information and leave you scrambling.
  • The information may help you receive aid and benefits if you are displaced.
  • It proves your identity both on the road and when returning home post-disaster.
  • Provides a backup of all your important information, even if it's never officially used in a grab and go scenario.
Grab & Go Bag Binder
How to make a grab & go binder

Binder in Physical Form

  • 3-ring binder
  • index sheets
  • page protectors
  • envelopes

Binders come in different widths. The thinnest binder should work for most families, but determine if you need to go wider. Index sheets keep each of the segments of your binder identifiable. Page protectors with envelopes will protect documents and stop them from falling out. You can laminate copies of documentss for further protection, but laminating originals will invalidate them. Vacuum sealing is okay.

Binder in Digital Form

Digital Options
  • Cloud Storage
  • Thumb Drive

If you have cloud storage, this may be a good option. This may leave you vulnerable to hacking or people looking for information but you be the judge on whether this is a good option for you and your family. The thumb drive is the most secure option but on the road, you will need a computer to access the information.

Grab & Go Bag Binder
There are some risks

There are some inherent risks when putting your private information in either physical or digital form. If you don’t watch closely, it could end up in the wrong hands. If you choose to place your personal information in a 3-ring binder, on a thumb drive, or in the cloud, know the risks you are taking and be very careful.

So which option is best for you?

3-Ring Binder

A physical binder provides much easier access to your information.

A physical binder costs more to create with materials, and it takes up more room inside your grab & go bag.

TIP: For added safety, do not label the binder. Some people disguise the cover as something else such as a child’s artwork folder.

Thumb Drive

A thumb drive takes up much less room in your grab & go bag.

You must have access to a computer to access drive contents. The size could make it easier to lose.

TIP: Place the thumb drive on a lanyard so it can’t be lost or misplaced as easily. Place this into an envelop for added security.


With cloud storage, you don’t have to store anything in your grab & go bag.

You must be able to access your cloud account. If the internet is down for any reason, this won't be possible.

TIP: Give a family member in another state access to your cloud account – if you can't get in, they might be able to.

Storing your grab & go binder

Store your physical or digital binder inside of an adult's grab & go bag. There is one other option: see tips.

  • Place the physical binder or thumb drive in a fireproof box and take this with you on the way out, making sure the box makes the grab list.

  • Create a second thumb drive and place it in a fireproof box for safe keeping in general. This is separate and apart from any grab & go plan.