Be Prepared Before Disaster Strikes

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Nation, like just about every other scenario, being prepared and organized reduces the inevitable stress that accompanies any disaster.  Follow these steps to help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed should disaster strike.  

Create an Emergency Plan.  If you don’t have an emergency plan, create one now.  If you have one, now is the time to update it.  You should review and update your plan at least annually.   Make sure
everyone in your household is familiar with the plan.  If you have infants, or family members with special needs make sure you have taken that into account and don’t forget to include your pets in your plan.  Plan for family members that may be at school or work.  Set aside time to practice your plan, and run through those practices once a quarter.  

Duplicate Your Vital Documents.  Duplicate your documents even if you currently have them in electronic mode.  Store a copy offsite, probably in a safe deposit box, and consider storing them in a facility that is outside of the boundaries of your perceived disaster area.  Of course, now cloud storage is an option, consider it. If you still have your documents on paper, consider scanning them into an electronic format.  If you want to retain paper, plan for redundancy by ensuring that a copy is stored offsite. 

Document Your Assets.   Photograph or Videotape all your major assets, inside and outside of your home.  In addition, take a written inventory of your possession that includes cost and the fair market value prior to the disaster.  You may contact your insurance company to see if they have an inventory document.  If they do not, ask them what types of information would they need if you must make an insurance claim, and use that information to create your own record e.g. via a spreadsheet.   The IRS has a Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss workbook – Publication 584, which helps you inventory your home room by room.  

Update Your Emergency Contact Information.  Look up and record the contact information for the disaster administration for your county and state, and include information for your police and firemen and local hospitals.   Keep hardcopies of this information in your wallet or purse in case you cannot access it from your phone.

Update and Refresh Your Disaster Supplies Kit.  We never want to have to use the contents of a disaster supplies kit, so often the contents are stored there for a long time, so periodically make sure that the contents of your kit are still usable and edible.  Make sure your batteries still have power for example.  You should have water and food to last for at least 72 hours.  In many cases, you could experience utility and phone outages, so ensure that you have equipment in your Basic Supplies Kit to help manage during these outages.  

Review and Update Your Insurance Policy.  Your insurance company probably gives you an annual reminder on this one, suggesting that you increase your policy.  Take a look at your personal situation annually and make the appropriate decision to ensure that your hard-earned assets are protected.     

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