By Ashley Bleckner, CFP®, MA
Wildfires, earthquakes, floods…They can hit suddenly and disrupt normal life in permanent ways. While we can not always prevent unforeseen disasters, we can prepare ourselves before they strike to mitigate the fallout.
Most of us prepare with insurance, but with some disasters that isn’t enough. That’s because not all disasters are covered by your home insurance policy (we recommend you check your policy details).
For Preparedness Month, let’s look at disaster planning from a financial perspective. Many people have HEALTH emergency kits, but now is the time to create a FINANCIAL emergency kit.
What Do I Need?
Start with a fireproof and waterproof safe. A safety deposit box works great for this too. Make sure you include:
1) A USB drive with all of your important documents, such as: property deeds and legal documents (estate planning documents and insurance policies)
*Alternative: Upload these important files to a password-protected, cloud-based system. You’ll thank me later.
2) List of the important people in your life, including their telephone numbers, emails, or other contact information. When the disaster strikes, your phone may have limited battery power and our phones often contain the contact info of these important people in our lives.
3) Copies of ID cards, such as passports, driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, birth certificates, marriage certificates, military records, and pet ID tags.
4) Cash – because in the immediate aftermath of a disaster ATM cards and credit cards may not work.
5) Duplicates of your house keys and automobile keys.
6) Inventory of your personal belongings (paper, photo, or video). For household items, record what’s in each room. For major items, write down serial numbers.
*If this step seems daunting, try to start by going through one room at a time.
(Sources: Ready.gov–Financial Preparedness, Finra.org–Lock down your Financial Emergency Kit, IRS: Prepare for Natural Disasters)
If a disaster hits, the most important thing is how you communicate with your kids. Be honest, reassure them, but don’t make promises you can’t keep. For their emergency kits, be sure to include:
1) Essentials such as hygiene items and clothes.
2) Medications – At minimum, write down a list of the medications or keep an empty bottle with the prescription on it. If you can, have a backup supply of some of the essential medications that you are able to take with you if needed.
2) Toys, books, music, and electronics (be sure to have fresh batteries).
3) Out of state contact – When a major disaster occurs, the local phone lines may be tied up or inconsistent. Agreeing on an out-of-state family or friend to act as a liaison is a great way to communicate while the telecommunications are worked out. Additionally, develop a system with your children that will allow them to be identified if they are separated from you.
4) Learn basic first aid skills in case you are your child become sick and medical supplies are scarce. If you are interested in taking a free online CPR and First Aid course to get certified, let us know. We would be happy to provide you with a coupon code.
(Sources: UNICEF USA)
While we sincerely hope you never experience the pain that comes with these losses, proactive steps can help reduce uncertainty in the event of a disaster.
If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to reach out to us at 949-428-9696 and we can talk. That’s what we are here for – to help.