Weather is unpredictable. Tornados and flash floods can happen without warning. We can see large storms (snow, rain and even hurricanes) build and strike, affecting millions of people. Wildfires can quickly burn out of control.
When these events happen, you can be forced out of your home. Or, even worse, lose it completely.
You might find that you have to leave and have little time to gather what you need. That is why it is important that you are prepared. But, what do you do?
First of all, try not to panic. That will help neither you nor your children. Secondly, if you have taken the right steps to prepare, then you should be in good shape and will be OK.
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Video or photo your entire home
If you lose everything you own, there will be no simple way to provide details to your insurance company. No need to have a fancy camera to do this. Simply use your phone and walk through your house. Video every room from corner to corner. Open your drawers and closets to record all of your clothes and other belongings. Record your pantry, toolbox and kitchen cabinets. Finally, walk around the outside of your home to capture it all there too.
Once you are done, you want to save it somewhere you can access it, should your phone go dead or end up lost. You can use cloud storage systems such as Dropbox or Amazon. Alternatively (or as an additional backup), download them onto a flash drive in your disaster kit.
Should you have to file a claim with insurance, you won’t have to try to recall everything in your home from memory. You will have all you need for your insurance company, making the process a little simpler.
Make copies of important documents
If you lose your home, you may also lose items such as birth and marriage certificate, social security cards and perhaps even your license. Take a moment and make photo copies of all of these. You can print them off and place them in a binder in your emergency kit — so you proof of residency if you are evacuated. You can also upload the images to your Dropbox or cloud storage as well.
Read more: How Long Do You Need to Keep Important Documents
Keep cash on hand
We live in a cloud based world. All of our cash is exchanged by using plastic. However, in an emergency, those systems may shut down and not work. For that reason, you should always keep some cash on hand.
If you aren’t sure how much to have, start with $100. If you can build that amount to $1,000 – even better! Keep this cash in a location that is easy to get to, so you are ready should you have to leave. The best place to set this back is in your disaster kit.
Create a disaster kit
For me, this is as exciting to do as it was to create our will. I don’t like to think about it. However, it is important in order to protect myself and my family.
A disaster kit is simple to create. You also don’t have to fill it all at once, but by a little at a time. It should include the following:
- Bucket or container with a lid (keeps water out)
- First aid kit
- Battery powered weather and/or regular radio
- Batteries for both radio and flashlight
- Blanket or sleeping bags (enough for each person)
- Spare keys to your vehicle
- 3 Day supply of non-perishable food and water (around 1 gallon per person/day)
- Footwear for each person
- Clothing for each person
- Cards or games (to keep kids entertained)
- Cell phone charger AND Backup phone charger
- Whistle (to signal to rescue crews so you can be found)
- Baby items if needed (formula, diapers)
- Copies of important documents
- Sanitary items (for women)
- Cleaning wipes & trash bags
- Video of your home and contents (if using a flash drive)
- Road map
- Tools: pliers, swiss army knife, ax
- Last minute reminders list: Medicine, keys and other important items
In addition to the above, keep your phone fully charged – especially when inclement weather or situations appear to be headed in your direction.
This may seem like an extreme list, but when you see firsthand what happens to people, you quickly realize how important these items can be. Items can be stored in plastic tubs and kept in your storm shelter or other location, making them easy to grab should you need to leave your home quickly.
We all hope and pray that nothing will ever happen to our home or the city where we live. However, things to do happen. When you are prepared, you can put the pieces back together and start again.