The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends completing their Emergency Financial First Aid Kit as part of this month’s emergency preparedness efforts.
Week 3 of National Emergency Preparedness Month challenges participants to “practice and build out your plans.” This week focuses on financial readiness and document preparation at the individual and community levels.
When the dust settles after an emergency, those impacted are left to deal with the financial fallout as well as the physical. This is true regardless of income level. The key is to prepare your finances just as thoroughly as you prepare your pantry, safety plan, and emergency egress plan.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends completing their Emergency Financial First Aid Kit as part of this month’s emergency preparedness efforts. The kit was published by FEMA’s Citizen Corps and Operation Hope.
Access to information is one of the most important parts of preparedness. Keep pertinent communication, such as banking information, insurance policies, and medical records available in the case of emergency. This will help you start to recover from a disaster faster. Make sure that these documents are stored in a safe, accessible place. FEMA recommends a safety deposit box or fire- and water-proof safe for physical storage or the cloud for electronic storage.
This week is also a good time to review your insurance policies, especially homeowners or renters, car, health, and life insurance. Know what situations are covered and make adjustments if necessary. This is especially important if you live in an area at high risk of natural disasters, such as flooding or tornadoes. Property insurance does not cover damage that occurs from flooding. Research your risk for flooding and consider taking out additional insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, keeping in mind that it will not go into effect for 30 days after a policy is purchased.
FEMA also recommends having cash on hand during emergencies. When power or infrastructure is impacted during a disaster, credit cards and ATMs may not be available. Having some small bills on hand will allow you to purchase necessities, such as fuel or food.
In addition to emergency documents, basic identification should also be kept available in case of emergencies. This includes photo identification, such as a driver’s license or military ID, and social security cards. FEMA specifically notes that social security cards will be needed to apply for disaster assistance.
Other key documents to keep safe are house deeds, car titles, and tax statements. Medical information, such as physician contact, immunization records, and prescriptions will help keep your health from being a concern during disaster recovery efforts.
The key is to prepare your finances just as thoroughly as you prepare your pantry, safety plan, and emergency egress plan.
Keep in mind that recovery efforts after an emergency can last days, weeks, or even months. This includes scheduled mail service. Take the opportunity during National Emergency Preparedness Month to set up electronic deposits for all sources of income to minimize disruption to what is available in your accounts.
Community readiness is a key component of National Emergency Preparedness Month and this week focuses on emergency drills. FEMA recommends organizing and participating in an emergency drill, including accessing resources such as shelters and food banks. A simple online search will yield available resources in your community.
Hurricane Maria made landfall in Dominica on September 18 as a Category 5 Hurricane with 160 miles per hour winds. It is projected to impact Puerto Rico, which is preparing with the help of Puerto Rican authorities, local first responders, and U.S. federal resources. Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rissello declared a state of emergency, which was followed by a similar declaration for the US Virgin Islands by President Trump.
Visit www.ready.gov to find tips and resources to help you make the most of National Emergency Preparedness Month. Join in the conversation on social media by sharing your emergency preparedness tips using the hashtags #NatlPrep and #PlanAhead.