Virtually no region on Earth is immune from natural disasters. Whether it be hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, tornados or snow storms, there always seems to be a risk. Damage from these weather emergencies usually come at a high price tag, often totaling in the billions of dollars range.
Preparing physically for a disaster is, of course, the most important plan to have. You and your family should have plans in place to ensure that every family member is safe in the case of a natural disaster. One approach my family has taken is preparing “go-bags” and ordering essential supplies to store in bulk.
Secondary to safety should be your financial security. Setting yourself up for financial success during and after a weather-related incident is the best way to minimize stress. It’s one less thing to worry about, allowing your life to return to normal as quickly as possible.
Here are a few precautions you should take as soon as possible.
Keep Cash On Hand
During a natural disaster, cash is king. For example, many areas of Puerto Rico lost power for a long time after Hurricane Maria. In a situation like that, it can be hard to access cash if all your finances are connected to a debit card. The same was true for the blackout of 2003 when there was a widespread power outage that affected Ontario, New York, and other sections of the Northeast and Midwest United States.
Instead of just withdrawing cash before an expected natural disaster, keep a small amount in a secure place at home. This will keep you ready for the disasters that aren’t expected.
Boost Your Emergency Fund
During a natural disaster, you may have to evacuate and stay away from your home for longer than expected. You should have enough of a cushion to sustain yourself for 3-6 months (or longer) without an income. Additionally, having an established line of credit can be helpful for covering short-term financial needs.
Know Your Insurance Coverage
If your home and property are damaged during a natural disaster, there is a good chance your homeowner’s insurance will cover much of your financial losses. To maximize your coverage, know what disasters are common in your area and make sure you’re covered for those. This is especially important for flood damage, which often isn’t covered by basic policies. It’s also important to take photos or inventory of your home regularly so you can be sure you’re reimbursed for everything you’ve lost.
Your Important Papers
Losing important papers during a natural disaster isn’t just a headache — it can also turn into a financial burden. Family medical information, birth certificates, deeds, social security cards and insurance information should always be kept in a safe, fire-proof and water-safe place.
Government assistance and charitable donations can be instrumental in minimizing a disaster’s financial impact on individuals, but it’s always best to secure yourself so you don’t have to rely on anyone else for your financial security.