Being ready for a disaster is more than storing water and supplies. You also need to be financially ready. Starting early and having adequate insurance, a plan to pay your bills, and access to your important records and accounts will help you get back on your feet faster and avoid problems with your credit when you need it most.
The Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK), a joint publication from Operation Hope and the FEMA Citizen Corps, can help you prepare now. Use the EFFAK to identify your important documents, medical records, and household contracts. When completing the kit, be sure to include pictures or a video of your home and your belongings and keep all of your documents in a safe space. Visit the EFFAK collection of resources to download useful tools including:
For organizations, encourage everyone to be financially prepared. You can hold a brown bag meeting or make a presentation at an existing staff meeting to provide more information. Download the EFFAK Overview PowerPoint and the Safeguarding Your Valuables Facilitator Guide to support your discussion.
Inventory Home Possessions
Make a record of your personal property for insurance purposes. Take photos or a video of the interior and exterior of your home. Include personal belongings in your inventory. Store the photos and/or video in a safe place, preferably away from your home (e.g., safety deposit box, work).
Obtain property (homeowners or renters), health, and life insurance if you do not have them. Review existing policies for the amount and extent of coverage to ensure that what you have in place is what is required for you and your family for all possible hazards. Homeowners insurance does not typically cover flooding, so you may need to purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program.
Store important documents such as insurance policies, deeds, property records, and other important papers in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box away from your home. Make copies of important documents for your disaster supplies kit. Having such information handy should make the registration process for FEMA benefits smoother, should you be involved in a presidentially declared disaster.
Consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used in any crisis. Keep a small amount of cash at home in a safe place. It is important to have small bills on hand because ATMs and credit cards may not work during a disaster when you need to purchase necessary supplies, fuel, or food.