A Checklist for Planning for Natural Disasters

A Checklist for Planning for Natural Disasters

By Cathy DeWitt Dunn

We’ve certainly seen our share of tragedy across the United States in recent months. The horrific explosion in West, Texas, the deadly tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, and devastating fires in Colorado are just three examples.

These disasters in our own backyard can wreak havoc on our lives in so many horrific ways – emotionally, financially, and psychologically.

Unfortunately, a lot of us live by the old adage “oh, it won’t happen to me”. But here’s a nugget to gnaw on – Mother Nature doesn’t have a bullet with your name on it; she has millions of bullets inscribed with ‘to whom it may concern.’ Industrial accidents like the West explosion are even more random…but if it can happen in West, something similar can happen just about anywhere.

Getting caught off guard is never pleasant, so we need to plan for the worst.

Disaster Planning

Here are some things to consider when planning:

  1. A plan – sounds redundant but it incorporates so many areas. In the Colorado fires, residents literally had minutes before they were forced to leave their homes, so waiting until the last minute won’t cut it. Ensure that you entire family is aware of the plan – because it may take the entire family to implement (“you grab the box, I’ll take the first aid kit, she packs the ice chest, junior grabs the pet”). Assigning responsibilities to family will smooth the process of leaving your home in a hurry.
  2. Make sure you have a predetermined person, preferably a family member, who you can contact and head towards in case of an emergency. Be sure to look outside your immediate area – if you’re affected, more than likely the people you know near you will also be dealing with the effects of the emergency. Make sure all of your extended family and close friends know exactly where you will be heading. This will provide your loved ones a measure of peace should they not be able to get a hold of you personally to check on your safety.
  3. Assess all household goods for insurance purposes. The easiest way to do this is to video every room, every closet, and every drawer, cabinet. Narrate as you go as to give years, brand, etc.
  4. Make sure your insurance policies are up-to-date. You need to take time to look this over and ensure that the coverage is adequate. It is imperative that you ensure you have the right amount of coverage to take care of replacement costs. This is the amount that is required to replace the items lost in a disaster. If you are underinsured, all your items will not be replaced. Look into the costs of flood insurance if you live near water.
  5. Make sure all your legal and financial documents are safe in a fireproof safe and/or in a bank deposit box. If possible, grab these and take with you.
  6. Back up your computers offsite. If you are like most people nowadays, some of your most valuable photos and documents are stored electronically on your computer. Look into cloud computing storage options to help protect your memories.
  7. Prepare yourself financially for the loss of time away from your job by beefing up your savings.

Remember, Mother Nature never knocks, so prepare your self for the day that she may come calling.


Other websites by DeWitt & Dunn Financial Services: