It’s happening everywhere – crazy snow storms, tornados, hurricanes, floods, etc. Not to mention those disasters that occur in business such as falling sick, thefts or computer crashes. The bottom line is you need to be prepared. Hopefully these tips help!
Top Disaster Preparedness Tips:
Have the appropriate food and supplies on hand. (That is my supply that we keep. Nice right!) Throughout the year, add to your stockpile and make sure the food you get is food that your family likes and will eat. Many make the mistake of getting canned goods, but it’s not what the family is used to and therefore won’t eat it. You then end up on that long search for an open store. Basics like bread and milk, you’ll need to get closer to the time, but many of the extras you can purchase while on sale. Get used to saving with the buy one get one free sales. Buy one to use now, and get one to put away. (Be mindful of expiration dates though.)
Don’t forget the comfort foods. It can be stressful and that can help tremendously. You can fire up the grill and grill up goodies so stock up on charcoal and lighter fluid. Also get extra sterno. Many a mac and cheese dinner can be heated up with that. Don’t forget coffee (you will need it), lots of water, and extra cash. Often ATMs are down so cash is needed.
Write down a complete family medical history. Include any medical conditions, medicines and dosages, doctor’s names and contact information, where medical records can be found, etc. Be specific. If you happen to have children with any medical conditions, be sure that they carry this with them at all times. Of course, you hope you will be with them in case of an emergency, but if not, you will feel better knowing they are in good hands.
Take an inventory now. Write down insurance policies including insurance company and contact information, policy numbers, group numbers, date of births, coverage, etc. Also, make an extra copy of those important documents and have them handy. Write down an inventory of valuables and take photos if possible. One recommendation is when you buy something new, make an extra copy of the receipt and keep it in your disaster recovery file folder with a photo of it. Takes seconds, but makes it so much easier when it comes to filing a claim (and you might be able to get more money because you have proven the value of the items.)
Safeguard important information – Get a copy of all important information, wills, trusts, mortgages, deeds, birth certificates, contracts, medical records, insurance information, even household bills to help get things restored quickly, etc. This should be in one central location that you can grab and go. In extreme cases, some suggest to put this in a freezer as emergency personnel is trained to look there. It’s also a good idea to write out some of those important passwords for your online activities. (Just be sure to keep in secure location.) Many save everything on the computer, and if you have no power, that can be a real problem.
Back up your computer system regularly. Whether you have a business or not, it’s important to have a good back-up. We recommend an online system such as Carbonite in addition to flash drives, hard drive back-ups, etc. Even dropbox can be beneficial. However you do it, just make sure you are protected. Don’t lose those precious photos and family videos.
Get the appropriate weather attire out. Ponchos, umbrellas, etc. Also, don’t forget things such as extra bug spray. Often these storms stir up insects that carry diseases (i.e., West Nile Virus) so be prepared. Also, consider putting together a back-pack for each family member. Some considerations include some of the following; clothes, shoes, water, bug spray, a little food, etc. Think what they might need for just a few days.
Have activities for the kids – Think ahead, get out those age-appropriate fun things for the kids to do, keeping in mind the lights might be out. When the lights go out make it a game, use your flashlights like when you are camping.
Identify a safe place for everyone to meet. This pre-determined place should be discussed with family members prior to an emergency. A second location should be discussed. Also, out-of-town relatives should be advised of this location. Additionally, each person should have a list of phone numbers for immediate neighbors and family members. 3X5 index cards work well.
Stay calm – It is stressful, there is no doubt about it. Don’t watch 24-7 of the news. Definitely tune in regularly, but your anxiety level rises if you watch it too much. Remember your family is often watching you, so set a good example. Also, know there is no right or wrong way to weather a storm. Do your best and that’s plenty!
Finally have a disaster checklist and continually add to it each year as you go through additional storms and learn more. (And remember, it’s not only the hurricanes you need to be prepared for. Those tropical storms can be just as challenging.) You feel all the better when you can check off all you need to do and then can focus on your family, keeping everyone safe, and maybe a little play time while the whole family gathers around.
Love to hear your tips or thoughts! Post away! Also, email me for a sample of the Home Office Recovery Plan at Diana@virtualwordpublishing.com
Diana Ennen is the President of Virtual Word Publishing, http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com offering PR and marketing services and PR and virtual assistant coaching. She’s also the author of VA the Series and the Home Recovery Plan: Disaster Preparedness for your Home Business (see our bookstore for details.) Contact her at Diana@virtualwordpublishing.com. Feel free to use this posting as long as bio remains.