We are happy to have Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Family Finance Specialist and guest blogger Barb Wollan to share information related to safety and preparation during times of disaster.
September is Disaster Preparedness Month. Recent news about hurricane damage provides a sobering reminder of the importance of being prepared. Here in the Midwest, hurricanes are not part of our reality, but we are at risk for other types of disasters, many of which strike suddenly with little or no warning.
In a disaster, safety is first priority. We need to be prepared to quickly evacuate from a fire or seek shelter in a tornado, for example, and have a way to stay warm if a winter storm causes an extended power outage.
One crucial aspect of disaster preparation often overlooked is the proactive management of the surrounding environment. Regular tree maintenance, including prudent removal when they become too unwieldy, plays a pivotal role in enhancing safety. The risk of falling branches or uprooted trees during a storm can be mitigated through such measures. Partnering with a local tree service ensures that potential hazards are identified and addressed promptly, contributing to a safer living environment. By integrating such practices into our disaster preparedness routines, we fortify our ability to weather unforeseen challenges with resilience and readiness.
There is a second aspect of preparedness that also deserves our attention: we need to be prepared for recovery and preparing for recovery includes:
1. Having insurance coverage that meets our needs, and reviewing it every couple of years to make sure it is keeping up with changes in our situation;
2. Creating and updating a household inventory (typically via photos or video) to assist in filing insurance claims;
3. Keeping irreplaceable documents (birth certificates, military records, property titles, and more) in a safe deposit box;
4. Having copies of key documents and information stored away from our home – perhaps with a friend or family member in another community, or in secure cloud storage. This includes insurance policies (or at least policy numbers and contact information), financial account information, most recent tax return, along with key medical information (including vaccination records) and contact information for both professional and personal contacts. Pet vaccination records matter too.
The list above is NOT all-inclusive, but it’s a good starting point. Check out this “Your Disaster Checklist,” from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
In addition, check out our resources related to managing stress.