- Beth Ann Tabak
Be ready: September is National Preparedness Month
September is National Preparedness Month, four weeks designed to help ready you for an emergency. And, it seems that both local and national weather is cooperating to remind you of what’s at stake if you don’t have a plan in place.
Advanced planning can save you valuable time and money. From the financial to the practical, here are a few tips to make sure you are ready in an emergency.
Review your insurance coverage
Assure that you have the proper insurance coverage, including life and health insurance, and renter’s, homeowner’s, or business property insurance. Read the fine print, and keep in mind that while most property insurance covers damage from natural disasters, that doesn’t necessarily include flood damage.
Take inventory of your property, too. Keep a log of each item with photographs, relevant serial or model numbers, receipts for major purchases and appraisals for valuables. It’s a time-consuming process, but it will help insurance adjusters assess the value of lost or destroyed property.
Start an emergency fund
A recent study found that 36 percent of American working adults aged 25 to 60 are “financially fragile," meaning they can’t cope with an immediate $400 expense or come up with $2,000 in 30 days. An emergency or natural disaster can cause enormous financial setbacks, especially to those already in bad financial shape. An emergency fund is essential to countering these setbacks. Start building your emergency fund now whether it’s collecting your spare change or one dollar bills or saving a small percentage of your paycheck. Each little bit counts, and will help cover any gaps in your insurance coverage.
Centralize important information
Gather identification papers or other personal records, such as social security cards, birth and marriage certificates, medical information and pet documentation. Having mortgages, property deeds, insurance policies, and other legal documents could save time in the insurance filing process. FEMA’s Ready.gov offers a detailed checklist of critical documents to have on hand as well as an in-depth Emergency Financial First Aid Kit. Keep these documents in a fireproof, watertight container in a safe, easily accessible place. Backups of these documents should be kept digitally on a password-protected flash drive.
Have supplies on hand
Build an emergency supply kit that includes your important documents, non-perishable snacks, bottled water, flashlights, batteries, portable chargers, first aid supplies and some cash from your emergency fund. Check your kit every so often just to make sure that nothing needs replaced or has expired.
Don’t forget your pets
If your pets are more fur babies than animals, make sure to include them in the emergency planning. You don’t have to get their input when you make a plan, but have their food, medication and documentation included in the emergency supply kit. You can also consider having them microchipped in case you get separated.
Be aware of what natural disaster you might face in your area. Native Northeast Ohioans are aware that tornadoes, flooding, ice and snow storms are our top culprits, but do a little research on what you might face if headed to a different area.
Sign up for emergency alerts, too. The noise from the alert might be jarring, and of course you can look out the window to monitor the weather, but things can change instantly and drastically.
For an in-depth look at Disaster Planning, please visit: www.717cu.com/KOFE. Once you proceed to the KOFE site, select financial publications from the KOFE table drop-down menu. 7 17 has partnered with KOFE (Knowledge of Financial Education) to provide free financial education tools to help support members’ long-term financial health. Resources include publications, videos and more. Plus, you have free access to financial coaches, seven days a week!