The first thing I learned when I first started working in disaster assistance is:
IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO LOSE IT, YOU CAN'T AFFORD NOT TO HAVE INSURANCE!
If you rent, renter's insurance is not expensive. If you are a homeowner, you need to re-evaluate your coverage for both your home and your contents periodically. If you live in FLOOD ZONE A or B, Buy Flood Insurance! It is not that expensive, and you can set the deductible at a higher level to further reduce the premium. But, you can't wait until it looks like a storm is coming. If you've received Federal disaster assistance in the past and live in a flood zone, you know that this is a requirement, and you risk being denied future assistance if you don't maintain flood insurance.
If you have a video camera, go through your home and video tape everything you have, including things in your closets, pantries, garage, kitchen, etc. Don't leave anything out. Too many times, people will file claims for losses, and just list the big things, plus maybe their clothes. When you start adding in your linens, cleaning supplies, tools, pantry items, kids' toys, software, dvds, music, frames (photos aren't covered), and the like, the claim really starts adding up. Think about scheduling things like collections, expensive tools, and jewelry on your insurance in case they are lost or damaged.
Make a regular back-up of your computer, especially if you keep any important infomation on it, and keep the back-up in a safe place. Get a lock box or safe deposit box for important documents, computer back-ups and your home video tape. Put things like your passports, social security cards, birth certificates, marriage license, divorce decrees, wills, insurance information, copies of your deed, a list of your creditors and their contact information, current vet records (rabies vaccinations) for your pets, and any other vital papers in this box. Make sure that if it is something you keep at home, it isn't so heavy that you won't be able to grab it in a hurry. If you can't do that, put it in a file folder and keep it in a place where you can grab it right away.
Keep a supply of bottled water,canned food and a can opener for yourself, your family and your pets. We keep ours in a closet. Keep a flashlight with fresh batteries and a battery operated transistor radio.
Have a plan for you and your family for where you will meet should you get separated. It is best to have 2 locations...one local and one distant. If only your neighborhood is affected, you would want to meet somewhere else in the city. If the city itself is evacuated, and you are separated, you would want to try and meet at some predestined location (i.e., an uncle in Oklahoma City). Set him/her as a contact person should you not be able to get to that location. MAKE SURE EVERY FAMILY MEMBER KNOWS THE PLAN. Go over it from time to time, just like you would a fire drill.
Finally, while it's often difficult to leave our homes, take seriously any evacuation orders. Don't wait until the last minute to evacuate! If you choose to stay behind in the face of such an order, you are not only gambling with your own life, but you are presenting great risks and challenges to those who may have to come to your rescue. Think carefully before you choose to stay behind.
I hope and pray that nothing bad befalls any of you. But if you plan now, you can come through any type of disaster, with some sense of control, knowing that you and your family were prepared.
Edited by thomcat57, 07 September 2005 - 11:10 AM.