Hurricane Irene, without a doubt, caught our attention here on the East Coast this past August. And while the storm did not produce as much damage as some had predicted, major cities were still evacuated and thousands of families and business owners were left without power for several days. Though we probably won’t see anything like that again this year, don’t let your guard down just yet – we’re still in hurricane season until the end of November.
That’s why now is a really good time to review a few survival basics and considerations before a devastating flood or power outage hits your area.
Would you be ready to evacuate your home? Experts recommend having an emergency supply kit on hand. The recommended supplies can be found at Ready.gov. One requirement of any emergency kit is a radio and flashlight in the event of the loss of power. The American Red Cross recommends a handy invention called the Eton Hand Cranked Axis. It’s a radio, LED flashlight, clock and can even charge your smartphone all in one device.
Being financially prepared for a disaster begins with your insurances. You should take an inventory of all your home possessions. A great resource for a home inventory is Know Your Stuff from the Insurance Information Institute. The website is free and stores your information online, so it can be accessed remotely. You should have photographs of antiques or collectibles and even have appraisals of these items to help value these items if claims need to be filed.
Most standard homeowner policies do not provide protection against floods or earthquakes. A standard policy will cover wind-driven rain damage. Flooding is defined as an overflow of a body of water. This was a major problem during Hurricane Katrina for homeowners along the Gulf coast. The storm surge destroyed inland homes that were not covered by flood insurance. You can assess your risk of flood damage by going to FloodSmart.gov and typing in your address. The website will rate your risk and provide an estimate of the cost to insure your property. The site also provides the name and contact information of agents serving your location.
Make sure your important documents are stored in a safe place. This could be a safe deposit box at your bank or a fire-resistant home safe. When keeping items at home, be sure to store them in plastic bags to protect them from water damage. An inexpensive vacuum sealer that is used to store food for the freezer is an effective way to make sure your documents are stored water tight.
Copies of important documents should be stored electronically. This allows easy access for reference. These copies can be kept on a CD-ROM or stored online in a document vault. Box.net provides secure storage of up to 5 gigabytes for free.
Finally, have a plan for staying in contact with your loved ones. Discuss, in advance, where you will meet should a disaster happen when you are not together. Have a contingent location should your first choice not be available. It is a good idea to have a friend or relative that lives out of the area serve as a contact person. Everyone should know how to contact Uncle Bob in Nebraska if you’re separated and can’t get to the prearranged locations.
- It’s not enough to save for retirement . . . you’ve got to save efficiently.
- Always select a financial advisor who’s knowledgeable and independent – otherwise you’re getting a sales pitch.