When Natural Disaster Strikes
Preparing for an unexpected storm or fire can help protect both your personal and financial well-being. Consider these recommendations for protecting important documents and making a swift, safe evacuation.
Saving Your Documents
If a fire, hurricane or other natural disaster occurs, the documents needed to rebuild your life should either be with you or stored somewhere safely out of harm’s way.
Waterproof, fireproof safes offer protection for your most important items, offering a level of security in the event of a last-minute evacuation. For disasters that can be forecasted further in advance (think weather-related events like hurricanes), consider taking important papers with you.
When choosing which documents to bring, consider:
Identification: passports, immigration papers, military discharge papers, immunization records, Social Security cards
Family records and certificates: birth, adoption, marriage, divorce, death
Home and vehicle: deeds, titles, registration, loan papers
Planning documents: wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare directives
Insurance information: health, life, home, vehicle
While many of these documents can be replaced, keeping them safe will make insurance claims and other recovery activities easier. Consider placing them in a 3-ring binder with pockets for easy portability, and store within a water resistant bag. Waterproof and fireproof boxes are usually quite heavy, but a heavy-duty waterproof bag from a sporting goods store or large, re-sealable plastic bag can serve as a lighter alternative.
Preparing Your Emergency Bag
Proponents of preparedness recommend keeping a small bag packed with essentials for a quick escape. Your emergency bag should remain ready to go at all times, perfect for an unanticipated evacuation. Your water resistant duffel bag or knapsack can include items such as:
Your documents binder
Photos or video of your property for later insurance claims
Safe deposit box key, if applicable
Notepad and pen
Small first-aid kit
Bottled water and nonperishable snacks
Extra re-sealable bags
An additional “quick grab” list will ensure you won’t forget items that would be inconvenient to keep in your emergency bag at all times. Examples include:
Back-up of your computer, especially if it stores personal information
Cash for food and gas, as ATMs may not be in service
Phone or tablet and chargers
Planning for Pets
If conditions are unsafe for you, they’re unsafe for your pets as well. Research in advance which public shelters, lodging facilities or kennels can take care of your pets if you’re unable to bring them with you during an evacuation.
If you have an exotic pet, try contacting local pet stores or zoological gardens located in a safe area. Your local SPCA or other pet-oriented organization can also likely provide information.
Additional steps to prepare your pets include:
Making copies of your pet’s updated immunization records
Filling out a pet ID card with a recent picture, description, contact information, medical details and care instructions
Compiling a kit with items like collars, leashes, medications, food, water, treats, toys, litter/pans, first aid supplies, and carriers
Depending on the type of natural hazards your area is prone to, additional provisions might be needed. But regardless of the particular peril, undertaking these precautions can provide a greater sense of security and preparedness in the face of an unexpected disaster.
Content created by Raymond James for use by their financial advisors.