Natural Disaster Preparedness: Financial EssentialsWednesday, October 10, 2018
Did you know that hurricane season in the Central Pacific region runs from June 1 all the way to November 30? Hurricanes and other natural disasters have the potential to be devastating to our islands. With the potential of more natural disasters heading our way, it’s important for you and your family to be as prepared as possible.
Hurricanes and other natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and lava flows can cause damages to your house and injuries to your ‘ohana including family pets. Here are a few of our top tips to stay safe and sound throughout a natural disaster.
STOCK UP ON SUPPLIES
Creating a disaster preparedness kit can help alleviate the stress caused by threats of natural disasters. Prepare early by saving up water and non-perishable food items to avoid long lines and limited availability of supplies at the store. Click here for a guide of what items to keep in your disaster preparedness kit.
HAVE CASH READY
Natural disasters often leave communities without power. Businesses can lose access to electricity and power outages may affect debit/credit card readers and other electronic payment methods. Should you need to make a purchase, you’ll likely need cash.
The best way to estimate cash needs is to record your expenses for several days. Factor in costs for potential lodging or fuel. Investing in a weatherproof lockbox for your home allows you to safely keep this cash on hand. Stores may not have change for large bills after a disaster, so it is recommended to keep emergency cash in smaller bills.
If you are displaced from your home for an extended period of time, you may need more than a small amount of cash. Keeping three to six months of living expenses in a savings account allows you to have funds for emergencies. Savings accounts are safer than storing large amounts of cash at home but still provide accessibility.
GATHER FAMILY RECORDS
Proper identification may be required to re-enter your property or receive aid from federal agencies after a disaster. Other personal documents, such as medical records, are important should an injury occur. Gather your family’s records and store them in a lockbox for safekeeping. A safer option is to store copies at home, and keep original documents in a secure safe deposit box from American Savings Bank.
Personal identification records include driver’s licenses, birth certificates, and military records. Medical documents may include immunization records or lists of allergies and medications. If you are a pet owner, it’s important to include your pet’s identification with the rest of the family.
CREATE A CONTACT LIST
Put together a master list of important contacts in case of emergency. Your contact list can be divided into sections to make it easier to navigate. Include a section for personal, medical, and financial contacts. Each contact should have at least a phone number and email address. Make copies of your contact list for each family member.
Financial contacts may include your employer, financial institutions, lawyer, mortgage company, and insurance agent. Also include your utility companies and services like lawn care and home cleaning. Once your list is created, make notes of any recurring fees you have. For example, under your mortgage contact you may note your payment and due date. Including your recurring expenses creates an easy way to let companies know that you have experienced a disaster. Some companies may push back due dates until the emergency is over.
INVENTORY YOUR BELONGINGS
Creating an inventory of your belongings makes it easier to file an insurance claim. Contact your insurance agent and ask what items are covered in your homeowners or renters policy.
Your inventory may be a list of important items including a brief description, identifying marks, and value. Taking clear photos or videos can be an easy way to document your items. Photos and videos can easily be stored electronically.
COLLECT FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS
Often overlooked in disaster preparedness kits are financial essentials. If disaster strikes, you need to know how to contact your financial institutions. Gathering information about your financial accounts, family members, and belongings now prepares you financially in the event of a natural disaster.
Much like personal identification, documents for your financial accounts are essential to natural disaster preparedness. Start with a list detailing financial accounts like checking or investment accounts. This list should also have credit cards, mortgage and legal documents, and insurance policies.
In addition to information for each account, collect recent statements. Have insurance policies ready for quick reference when making claims. Additionally, any legal documents should be included. Many of these physical documents are too heavy to carry on foot following a disaster. It may be worthwhile to invest in electronic copies and keep the originals in a safe deposit box for security. If storing sensitive documents electronically, it is important to make sure your files are password-protected.
PREPARING FINANCIALLY FOR A NATURAL DISASTER
Creating a disaster preparedness kit for financial essentials can ease the stress of a disaster. Having other important financial documents and contacts on hand gives you a chance to anticipate any recurring expenses. Find your nearest ASB branch to open an account and start saving for emergencies. Taking the time to financially prepare for a natural disaster may save you money and time in the event of an emergency.