Disaster Preparedness Month: Practice and Build Out Your Plan

Preparing for a disaster is key, but practicing it is essential. It’s time to Practice and Build Out Your Plan.

Americans at all income levels have experienced the challenges of rebuilding their lives after a disaster or other emergency. In these stressful circumstances, having access to personal financial, insurance, medical, and other records is essential for starting the process of recovery quickly and efficiently. Taking the time now to collect and secure these critical records will give you peace of mind and, in the event of an emergency, will ensure that you have the documentation needed to start the recovery process without delay.

1. Gather financial and critical personal, household, and medical information. FEMA’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit will guide you through collecting and recording all vital information:

2. Consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used in any crisis. Keep a small amount of cash at home in a safe place. It is important to have small bills on hand because ATM’s and credit cards may not work during a disaster when you need to purchase necessary supplies, fuel or food.

3. Obtain property (homeowners or renters), health, and life insurance if you do not have them. Review existing policies for the amount and extent of coverage to ensure that what you have in place is what is required for you and your family for all possible hazards.

You can take simple no-cost or low-cost steps to protect your valuables.

  • Create a photographic record or inventory of your valuables and store it in a safe deposit box or other off-site location. Consider keeping a copy on a CD or flash drive in your disaster kit so that you can provide it to your insurance company following a loss; this will allow you to start the insurance/recovery process more quickly.
  • Scan important records such as vital records, medical records, and financial documents, and save the files on disk or flash drives. You may also want to password-protect the data you have stored in case of loss or theft. Store the backup records in a safe deposit box or other off-site location.
  • If you have too many records or no way to scan/copy them, store them in a flood/fireproof home safe or a safe deposit box. Also consider giving backup copies of important documentation to family members to store for you.
  • Include any readily accessible records, such as medical records, medical contact information, etc., in your disaster kit.
  • Take precautions to protect yourself from identity theft when you create backup systems to store critical information.

For more information, visit www.ready.gov.

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