Trusted Choice® Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Tips
- Getting Started
- Prepare Home Inventory
- Storm-proofing your home
A good way to begin your planning process is to gather as much information as you can. There are numerous resources available to guide you through the process of getting your household prepared to deal with a disaster. Trusted Choice® and the Big “I” offer many disaster-specific readiness and recovery tips for consumers including the following suggestions to get started:
- Make a list of each of your insurance policy numbers and the insurance company name, and keep the information in your wallet, purse, or on your mobile device. For example, nearly all states use some form of a wallet-size auto ID card, which is required to be kept on your person, or in the vehicle. It's a good idea to do have similar information with you on all your other insurance coverages.
- Make a record of your insurance agent's web site address, and keep this information in your wallet, purse or mobile device. After a widespread catastrophe, more and more agencies post information about claims procedures on their web site. This is especially important in cases where the agency itself has been affected, and has set up temporary operations at another location. In addition, agency web sites will usually post emergency insurance claim phone numbers, etc.
- Use social media to contact your insurance agent. Many agencies use some form of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., and these information outlets can provide vital, timely information about claims procedures and other necessary information for policyholders.
- Find out how you and your neighbors would be informed about an imminent disaster.
- Ask if evacuation routes have been established.
- Contact your city's or town's planning and emergency assistance organizations. Ask them for information about disaster planning.
- Contact your children's school(s) or day care center to learn about the emergency plans they have in place.
- If a family member is in an elder care facility, check to see what emergency procedures they will follow.
- Take a First Aid/CPR class from the American Red Cross.
- If you have pets, have a contingency plan in place. Many emergency shelters won't accept them.
Prepare a Home Inventory
If you were the victim of a major natural disaster and suddenly found yourself with nothing left, would you remember everything you lost? When is the last time you counted the number of CDs you own or took stock of the current value of your TV and video equipment, not to mention your clothing, jewelry and other personal belongings? Too often, we forget about personal valuables that are stored in closets or drawers. An inventory will help you remember what you have so you can accurately document your losses to your insurance company. For example, your insurance company will be less likely to dispute the value of your antique teapot collection if you have photographs, sales receipts and other documentation to prove it.
- Make a detailed written or videotaped inventory of your property and house-hold possessions. Take a video camera and go through every room, taping and describing what you see. For valuable items, note when and where you purchased them and how much you paid for them. Include the serial numbers of major appliances.
- Don't forget to inventory the garage, attic, basement and the exterior of your house, including landscaping and fencing.
- Update the inventory yearly.
- Keep your inventory, insurance policies and other important documents in a safe-deposit box and keep a duplicate set in a fire- and water-proof container at home. Include important documents such as wills, deeds, titles, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, passports, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, income tax returns, birth certificates and so on.
Storm-Proof Your Home
- Keep your home in tip-top shape to protect it against the damage of heavy winds, snow, ice or rain. Make sure your roof, windows and doors are not in need of major repair.
- Position cribs/beds away from windows or tall furniture that could slide or topple.
- If you live in a hurricane-prone area, purchase sheets of plywood to cover your home's windows and store them in your garage or shed. If you wait until a storm is imminent, your local hardware store may be sold out.
- Bolt bookcases and other tall pieces of furniture to the wall.
- Power generators are often used during power outages. If you own one, make sure it is well maintained and that all family members know how to operate it properly.
- If you live in a mobile home, make sure it is securely anchored down.
- If you own a boat, make sure it is securely moored.
- If there is a fire hydrant near your home, make sure it is clear of debris and can easily be located by the fire department.
- Remove low branches and dead trees from around your house.
- Clear debris from the chimney, gutters and vents.