Whether caused by Mother Nature or humans, an emergency can throw our lives into chaos. But being prepared in case an emergency strikes can help mitigate the effects. How prepared are you? September is National Emergency Preparedness Month, a great time to evaluate your emergency readiness. The following list, while by no means a complete record of everything you might need to do, offers ideas to inspire you to get started making necessary arrangements. Like an insurance policy, I hope you’ll never need to make use of your preparation, but will enjoy the peace of mind knowing you’re ready – just in case.
If you need help putting together your emergency preparedness plan, please get in touch – I’d be glad to help.
Set up an emergency plan with your family. Sit down with your family members and plan where you’ll meet and how you’ll contact each other in an emergency. Keep in mind the types of emergencies you may encounter such as fire, flood, & tornado, and that not all household members may be at home when the emergency occurs. Remember, you can’t rely on cell phones to keep in touch – cell phone towers could be damaged or circuits could be busy.
Minimize the impact of a lost purse or wallet.
- Carry only essential items. For example, leave seldom-used store credit cards at home and only take them with you when you plan to shop at those stores. Don’t carry your Social Security card or anything with this number unless it’s necessary.
- Record the important information you carry. Photocopy the front and back of each card and file the copies in your safe-deposit box, fireproof safe, or filing cabinet.
- If credit cards are lost or stolen, notify the credit card issuers and the police, credit reporting agencies, and the Social Security Administration (SSA). We’re all aware that we must notify the issuing companies if our credit cards are lost or stolen. In addition, you should notify the noted agencies, which demonstrates your effort to prevent fraud. Any company that checks your credit will know your information was lost or stolen. The agencies to contact are:
You should also contact the issuing bank for lost or stolen ATM/debit cards.
Videotape or photograph your possessions. If a disaster strikes, you’ll need to provide documentation of your possessions to your insurance company. Take time now to prepare this. Videotape or photograph the contents of your home. Keep receipts from major purchases such as furniture, audio-visual equipment, and jewelry to prove ownership. Keep receipts for home improvements and consider storing paint strips and fabric swatches. File your documentation in a safe-deposit box or fire-resistant safe.
List your important financial and personal records. This will help you easily find or reconstruct important records. List or photocopy vital documents (such as your will, life-insurance policies, and stock certificates), note the location of each item, and note the appropriate contact information. Keep a copy in your files at home and store one in your safe-deposit box or fireproof safe. Also, consider giving a copy to a trusted friend, family member, financial advisor, or attorney.
Take small steps. If “getting prepared” sounds overwhelming, consider implementing just one tip each week – then you’ll ready for anything. For more information about planning for emergencies, visit www.Ready.gov.