Personal Finance

Are you financially prepared for an emergency or disaster?

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There has been a lot of talk this week about how businesses are unprepared to deal with an outbreak of avian flu in the US. Along with the San Francisco earthquake centennial ceremonies and hurricane season right around the corner, it seems that this country has disaster on the mind.

Don’t just worry about these dangers, take action. Assemble an emergency supply of water, food and other supplies in your home, office and car. You should also be prepared for the financial aspects of an emergency. Here are some tips:

  • Put together copies of your credit cards, driver’s license, loan documents, insurance policies, emergency contacts and checkbook. Store a copy in a safe place outside of your home such as a safe deposit box or office file cabinet. Store another copy in a locked, waterproof evacuation box that you can grab in the event of an emergency.
  • Send another copy of these documents to a relative or trusted friend outside of your area. This relative can serve as your contact person in the event of an emergency.
  • Keep a few hundred dollars in small bills in your home for an emergency.
  • Create an emergency savings account with enough money to cover your family’s basic expenses for at least a few months. Include your mortgage and insurance payments in this calculation.
  • Have access to credit cards with a high limit that could help you cover your costs during an emergency.
  • Invest in good renter’s or homeowner’s insurance and include special coverage for risks specific to your area.  Make records of your home inventory and take photos. Store these documents in a safe place outside your home.
  • In the event of a disaster, be sure to contact your financial institutions. Your creditors and lenders can help in an emergency if you keep them informed.

Visit the Red Cross online for more tips on preparing financially for a disaster. What preparations have you made for an emergency? Share your tips, ideas and feedback in the comments section below.

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