June 13, 2014
June 1 marked the beginning of hurricane season. Meanwhile, across much of the Western U.S., major droughts have greatly increased the danger for summer wildfires. And don't forget last winter's record-breaking winter storms – or the ongoing potential for earthquakes, tornados, floods and other natural disasters.
Such catastrophic events are inevitable, largely unpreventable and often strike without warning. Even though we can't always predict natural disasters, we can anticipate their likely aftermaths, including property loss, power or water service disruption and scarcity of food and supplies.
Sit down with your family and develop a disaster plan. By planning ahead and knowing what you might need under dire circumstances, you can save yourselves a lot of time, money and grief.
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (www.fema.gov), offers great suggestions for developing a family emergency plan, building an emergency supply kit, and learning what to do before, during and after emergencies (everything from home fires to terrorist attacks). They even provide an emergency plan for family pets.
Here are some emergency-planning ideas you may not have considered:
Should disaster strike, you'll need access to financial and legal records. Take these steps now to ensure easier access when the time comes:
If you ever need to file an insurance claim or claim a tax deduction for lost, stolen or damaged property, it'll be much easier if you have an inventory of everything you own – photos or videos are even better. Try the Insurance Information Institute's free, secure home inventory software application (www.iii.org).
Also, investigate what is and isn't covered by your insurance policies for natural disasters. You may need additional coverage for damage associated with hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes and other weather conditions.
Bottom line: Having a family emergency plan in place could lessen the blow should disaster strike.
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