Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Emergency Prep

Ok, so I know that this week was supposed to be more on water storage, but I went to this really great Emergency Prep Activity at my church, and I wanted to share what I learned! The people there were Fire Fighters, Emergency Management Center workers, and a worker for the Chief Financial Officer for the state of Florida (their office oversees insurance and banks). So here is what I learned:
  • Have a 72 hour kit! I did learn about these nifty meals called Heater Meals. They aren't terribly expensive ($17 on Amazon for three, if you are doing swagbucks you could use some of those Amazon gift cards you earned on them), and they are an option for those who like to think less about how to come up with a meal for your kit.
  • Have a document toolkit. Basically a box of all important documents for you. Birth Certificates, marriage licenses, deeds, etc. One thing they mentioned that I thought was pretty smart is your child's most recent report card. The reason for this is that if you become displaced by a disaster (Katrina is a good example) and your kid needs to go to school somewhere else, they may not have access to your child's old school records to determine what classes (or grade!) they need to be in.
  • Have appropriate insurance. Remember you need to have insurance for the rebuild value of your home, not it's current value. Also, flood insurance is a very wise idea anywhere you live. As we've seen in the devastation of the flooding in Tennessee, you don't just need to live on the coast to have flood insurance. Also, be advised there is a 30 day waiting period on flood insurance and they won't write new policies with a named storm that could effect your area. If you rent, you should consider renter's insurance to cover your belongings.
  • Check insurance values. Make sure you know whether you have contents coverage and whether it covers the actual value or the depreciated value. See if you have law and ordinance coverage (a coverage to bring your house up to code, should you have to rebuild). 
  • Make a written home inventory which lists items, date of purchase, and value. It is also wise to take a picture or video inventory of items so that you can be sure you can prove you actually had those items and their previous condition. (You don't need to show every piece of clothing, book, etc. show that there is a closet full of clothing or a bookshelf full of books and show anything worth some money)
  • Have a weather radio. How will you know a tornado is headed your way at 3am? A weather radio is a great way to know. Also, emergency service centers can use them to relay any emergency information you need to know.
  • Evacuate when they tell you to! Don't delay, you should be ready to go when they say go (hence the need for document toolkits and 72 hour kits). Their advice for where to go? First a relative, then a hotel, and last a shelter.
  • Make plans for your pet! Don't leave them home! Be aware that most shelters do not house animals, so have a plan in place for what you will do. Speaking of pets, also make sure you have their immunization/vet records in your document tool-kits.
  • Have maps. You may know how to get someplace, but in a disaster situation you have no idea what roads may be destroyed or inaccessible, and you may not have phone signal to look it up.
  • If disaster strikes you, be sure to check out anyone offering to "help" you rebuild or repair. A lot of people like to take advantage of those who have suffered great loss. Make sure they are licensed and insured, and check with your state to be sure the info they have given you is valid.
  • If you are having trouble with your insurance, find out what state office governs insurance in your state and contact them, they can be a wonderful advocate for you!
  • Have a good medical history. If you are forced to relocate because of disaster, there is a chance that you will be unable to obtain medical records from your doctor, so have a personal medical history with you.
  • If you have a small business, make a document toolkit and an emergency plan for your business. Approximately 50% of small businesses do not reopen after a disaster because they do not have what they need to re-open. 
I hope you've found some of this as interesting as I found it to be.
If you'd like to see some of my other post on emergency preparedness, click here. I'll be back next week to continue the series on water storage.
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