Natural disasters are one of the many things people put off preparing for until it’s too late. With hurricane season upon us, now is as good of a time as any to start preparing. Here is a pre-disaster financial checklist of basic preparations in case of a natural disaster striking near your home.
1. Have Cash on Hand
In a natural disaster you may have to rely on cash to make purchases. Make sure you have small bills, as you may have trouble breaking larger ones.
2. Stock Up on Emergency Supplies
Keep a small stock emergency supplies (non perishable foods, bottled water, a manual can opener, flashlight, a first aid kit, toiletries, a radio, etc). You don’t want to have to try to find them during a natural disaster. If you can find them, chances are you will overpay with the cash you have on hand!
3. Keep an Emergency Fund
You may not be able to go to work due to damage to your home, car, or your workplace not being open for a significant amount of time. A significant emergency fund has 3-6 months living expenses.
4. Have Insurance
Does your insurance cover natural disasters or disability in case you are injured? Can you cover the deductible out of pocket?
5. Have Good Records
Having insurance won’t do you any good if you can’t show documentation of what you used to own and what needs replaced (furniture, electronics, jewelry, appliances, art, vehicles, etc).
6. Keep Records Safe
Keep physical records in a safe place such as a fire safe or a safety deposit box at your bank.
7. Get Assistance
Apply for FEMA grant if you are a victim of a natural disaster. You may be eligible for assistance from FEMA and Households Program for home repair to make the primary residence livable or to cover the cost of temporary housing, as well as get relief for damaged vehicles and medical bills.
Most importantly, before making any big financial decisions (i.e. tapping into a retirement account, reverse mortgage), contact a certified non-profit credit and debt counseling agency. They can review your financial situation and discuss the best alternatives for you.