The season of heavy rainfall, tornado warnings, and hurricanes is upon us. The recent floods in Colorado were a stark and devastating reminder of how much can go wrong in a disaster. To be sure, staying safe and dry is of utmost importance — but being prepared and informed ranks a close second.
If you live in an area prone to severe weather, here are five tips beyond bottled water and canned food you may not have thought of to make sure you’re ready.
Tip #1. Organize!
When the evacuation order comes thorough, you’ll want to pack up and go fast. If you don’t plan ahead, you may find it difficult to refill a prescription, prove your identity, or access your financial accounts.
Water damage can also be devastating to records like the deed to your house, passports, and birth certificates. It’s best to keep the originals in a safe deposit box, but if you’re displaced, you may find you need access to that information. Says the FTC:
When it comes to preparing for situations like weather emergencies, financial readiness is as important as a flashlight with fully charged batteries. Having your financial documents up-to-date, in one place, and portable can make a big difference at a tense time.
Get all your records together, and store them in a locked, fireproof box. Make sure you include a copy of your insurance policy, and an inventory of your home – this will make it much easier to file a claim later. Speaking of insurance:
Tip #2. Know your Insurance Plans
In some cases, your home, renter’s, or health insurance may cover the cost of temporary housing, or the cost of replacing property that’s damaged in a weather event.
But in many cases, commercial insurance won’t cover everything. Don’t wait to be surprised.
If you’re in a flood-prone area, you’ll want to look into the National Flood Insurance Program, as most homeowners’ insurance policies don’t cover flood damage to your home.
Policies are administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Contact them for more information.
Look into ways you can flood proof your home at the same time. FEMA will have information specific to your area.
Tip #3. Plan for Pets
Most pet owners consider pets a part of the family. But, be aware -– most public evacuation shelters can’t take the same view. They won’t allow pets for public health reasons.
Look into hotels and motels that allow pets, or consider friends or relatives outside your immediate area that might be able to put you and Fluffy up for a little while.
Make sure you’ve got all the supplies you’ll need to care for your pet – hotels may be pet-friendly, but they won’t have leashes, litter boxes, and food dishes on hand. Or a can opener for that dog food.
Tip #4. There’s an App for That
Just remember to keep an extra smartphone charger or batteries in your emergency kit!
Tip #5. Watch out for Scams
Displaced, disoriented people are ripe targets for scammers. Says the FTC:
It’s one thing to prepare your family, pets, and property for extreme weather situations. It’s another to protect your personal information and finances from scammers who use weather emergencies to cheat people.
Scammers often claim to represent a government service, and offer disaster victims everything from home inspections to loans. Always ask for ID when approached by someone offering aid, and check with whatever agency they claim to represent before giving them your money or personal information. Check out Scambook Insights for scams that are trending now.
Most of all, Stay Safe
Weather disasters can be dangerous, costly, and heartbreaking. Being prepared is an important first step in getting through it. It’s a little work, but work you’ll never regret.
What are your emergency plans? Share your own tips in the comments second.