Disaster can strike anywhere, any time. Hurricanes, floods, fires, landslides—Mother Nature has no shortage of methods for wreaking havoc. Survivors of disasters will probably tell you that nothing could have prepared them for the aftermath. However, there are several things you can do before and after a disaster to lessen the strife of rebuilding your home and restoring your daily life.
Make a Disaster Plan
Failure to plan is a plan to fail. No one wants to think about planning for a disaster, but it is something you wish you had done when one hits. Plan ahead.
- Know your evacuation routes, and ask your community for any emergency plans. If you have a child in day care or school, get a copy of their emergency response plans.
- Create a communication plan. Decide ahead of time with your family where to meet if you are separated. Call an out-of-town contact that can be a central point of contact if you are separated. Make sure each person has the designated out-of-town person’s contact information and a plan to call them with their location.
- Plan for family members with special needs or disabilities. If a member of your household is on power-dependent life support equipment, you want to give your information to the power company. Additionally, plan for an alternate power source to keep the equipment running in the meantime.
- Plan for your pets. Not all emergency shelters allow for pets. Get a list of pet-friendly hotels to keep on hand.
- Know how to turn off water, gas and electricity at the main valves. Make sure you have all the right tools necessary and close by.
Do You Have Enough Home Owner’s Insurance?
Too few of us heed the recommendations for disaster preparedness, but the measures you take ahead of a potential disaster can exponentially decrease frustration and anguish if disaster does strike your home.
Did you know that more than half of all homes are underinsured? Review your policy with an agent each year to be sure your home and belongings are adequately covered. You may be insured for actual value rather than replacement value, for example, which can significantly reduce your insurance check after a loss. Keep in mind that high ticket items, like engagement rings and musical instruments, may require a special rider to be covered by your policy.
Check to see if water related damage is covered. Please note that most policies do not cover mold, sewage backup or other damage from flooding, even when brought on by a hurricane or other disaster.
In addition to keeping batteries and canned food on hand, put your most important documents in a place where you can access them quickly in case you ever have to flee your home. You may not be given time to pack, so keep a bag ready for each family member with clean clothing, basic toiletries and any necessary medication to help get you through the first few hours or days away from home.
Listing All Of Your Belongings
At least once a year, take photos or videos of your belongings and store them in a safe location, preferably offsite in case of a total loss. Disaster survivors often say that listing belongings for reimbursement is a daunting, tedious and seemingly endless task. When you’re dealing with devastation, you don’t want to spend day after day racking your brain trying to remember what tools were in your garage or what dishes were in your kitchen cabinets.
No one ever thinks it’s going to happen to them. We certainly hope it doesn’t happen to you, but it never hurts to be prepared. For more detailed information about getting prepared, download the brochure from FEMA and the Red Cross – “Preparing for Disaster”.
Stay tuned for Part 2 – How To Recover And Rebuild After A Disaster.
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