Whether you live on the West Coast, East Coast or somewhere in between, natural disasters have the potential to strike anywhere and seem to be occurring more frequently. While nothing can really prepare you for loss of property during a catastrophe such as wildfire, hurricane, earthquake or flood, there are a few steps you can take now to ensure you take needed items for an evacuation and have a better understanding of your options.
- Check your insurance. Whether you are a homeowner or renter, contact your insurance company to confirm your current insurance coverage. Inquire about “acts of god” and what coverage you will have for your home and additionally, what will be covered if you are unable to return to your home for an extended period.
- Create a five-minute list. If you only get a 5-minute warning to evacuate, what will you take with you? Now is the time to think about this before you need it. Sometimes this is also called a Go Bag or Evac Pack. Keep in mind, many items are day to day things you use so putting them in a bag beforehand may not be possible. Your list may include phone and charger, medications, seasonal clothes, and shoes. Post this list on the inside of a cupboard. Each person should have their own list.
- Create a one-hour list. If you have one hour to prepare for evacuation, list the things you would take in addition to the above items. It may include a special item, more clothes, a photo album, jewelry, laptop and charger. It’s a good idea to place this with your 5-minute list.
- A 24-hour list. In the event you get a day’s notice of evacuation, add to the above lists, being aware of the amount of space needed to transport the items. Keep this with your other lists in an easily accessible location. All lists should be updated at least annually. If or when the need to evacuate arises, going thru a premade list leaves less chance of forgetting something crucial.
- Identify a meeting place. Plan in advance where you and your family can go. Reach out to other family members or friends and confirm they are able to take you, your family and your pets into their home. If their health is compromised, it is important to be understanding if they cannot extend an invitation. If your immediate family members are not together when disaster strikes, have a plan where to meet and reconnect.
- Make electronic copies of important documents. Having documents to identify yourself is important. Examples include birth and marriage certificates, driver’s license, green card, military service card or passport. Some bank and brokerage companies offer electronic safes to keep such items, or you can keep a photo on your phone. You may still need to get original documents, but this is a good start. Keep important contacts electronically such as your insurance agent, your bank and financial information and family information.
While none of this will prevent a disaster, taking a few simple steps to help prepare you for the unexpected goes a long way to making a difficult time a little less stressful. Stay safe everyone!