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Being Prepared for a Natural Disaster

Posted by David Ghiorso, CPA, September 5, 2017

It seems as though every time we turn on the television, another disaster is striking a new area of the country. So far this year we’ve witnessed devastating fires, hurricanes, and floods – with potentially more on the way. We’re not trying to scare you, but simply point out that no area of the nation is immune to natural disasters.

Most importantly, preparing yourself for the worst-case scenario is often the key to riding out the storm relatively unscathed. Follow these tips now, so that you don’t have to rush in the event that you do face one of these dire situations.

Create an emergency supply kit. Include enough food and water to last at least three days, for yourself and any pets or service animals. Remember items such as a spare set of glasses or contact lens, batteries for hearing aides, a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, enough medications to last a week, first aid supplies, and any other medical equipment that you routinely use.

Consider a back-up power supply. A small generator or other source of electricity might be invaluable to those of you who need to keep medications refrigerated.

Make a list of resources. Make sure you know the locations of important resources such as the nearest police station, fire department, and emergency care clinics. Create a list of family, friends, and nearby neighbors, along with their addresses and phone numbers. It can be difficult to remember this information in a stressful situation.

Create an evacuation plan. We all need to know where we would go, and how we would get there, in an emergency. Would you drive? Where is the nearest bus station? What about friends and family? What shelters would be open near you?

Communicate with service providers. If you rely upon a meal delivery service, home health aides, or other vital services, sign up for their emergency notification plans. Ask them how you should proceed in an emergency.

Stockpile important documents. Important documents such as identification, birth certificates, homeowner’s insurance policies, and bank account information should be copied and stored electronically. You could also place copies in a safe deposit box at your bank.

Record your belongings for insurance purposes. Make records now, because you won’t have time in an emergency. You could create a written list of valuable items, or simply walk through your home with a video camera. Remember to store proof of your possessions in a secure location that can be accessed in the event that your home is destroyed.

Don’t wait until the last minute. If evacuation is ordered, arrange for transportation immediately. You don’t want to be stuck in traffic jams on the freeway when a natural disaster strikes.

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