Whether or not you believe that climate change is a scientific reality or a hoax, it’s a good idea to have a DISASTER PLAN. Weather — and its aftermath — has become our news, and earthquakes, hurricanes, and other disasters are happening with eerie frequency. Here are 3 tips to help mitigate confusion and loss before it happens.
First, you need a plan. OK, this probably isn’t on your bucket list, but just set aside an hour to get it done. During an earthquake or hurricane (or other natural disasters), phone lines and power outages make communication near impossible. Victims are often separated from their family. When you need it most, your cell phone doesn’t get service and eventually the batteries die out.
Don’t wait until it’s too late! Set up a designated meeting place in case you can’t meet or it’s not safe to stay at your home or office. Layout the path that everyone should take to ensure that you aren’t crisscrossing the area and missing each other. And most importantly, leave a message at the designated meeting place with an update on everyone’s condition and the new meeting place if someone is hurt and they can’t stay there.
Second, prepare a disaster kit for your home and your car. (Click here for a PDF of one you can use right now!) Store clothing for your family, enough water and food for 3 days, first aid supplies, medications, and toiletries in both locations. For your home, use a metal trash can and seal it with duct tape. Keep it outside and away from the house. For your car, use a duffel bag and put it in your trunk. Replace the contents every year to make sure clothes still fit and food hasn’t spoiled. I checked my earthquake kit a few years ago and found toddler clothes and diapers in the kit…both of my girls were in college at the time! Needless to say, update your kits often.
Third, record your belongings so they can be easily replaced after a disaster. Well, you might not be able to replace family heirlooms, photographs and mementos, but you’ll be surprised by how difficult it is to create a list of ALL OF YOUR BELONGINGS after a disaster. Replacement insurance will give you the opportunity to replace most of your things. Check your policies to see if there are deductions for depreciation and make sure your policy will give you full replacement coverage. You’ll need to prove what you have so videotape or photograph all of your possessions. My daughters started videography businesses when they were in middle school so for me it was super easy. They videotaped all of our possessions in a house for $50. You could do this yourself in less than an hour. Make digital copies of important photographs. Make photo copies of all of the credit cards, gift cards, and contents in your wallet so you can stop predators from using your cards and ruining your credit. Don’t keep your backups at your home or office. Keep them in a safe deposit box or with a family member who lives in a different state. That way, you’ll be able to have access to all of your records for the insurance and credit card companies.
The recovery process after a devastating disaster is long and painful, but if you have a communication plan, disaster kits, and back-ups, you’ll get back on your feet that much faster.