Natural catastrophes cost the U.S. $23.8 billion in 2016. Severe thunderstorms accounted for about 60% of insured losses, followed by floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, winter storms, wildfires, heat waves, and drought.
What about uninsured losses? Well, they’re more difficult to track in the wake of chaos. When families suffer a major disaster without insurance, it’s often a life-altering struggle that causes the loss of their vehicles, home, property, jobs, and lifestyle.
Keep your family from risk of severe loss by preparing ahead of time. Here are five strategies that are proven to minimize the impact of natural disasters.
Preparation Tip #1: Make a Family Emergency Plan
Start by creating an emergency plan for your family. Include local emergency agency phone numbers and addresses, and plan for scenarios where your family is separated or without cell phone use.
The Department of Homeland Security offers free emergency plan templates at ready.gov. But they caution that each family plan should be customized to household needs. Perhaps you have very young or very old family members. Maybe someone takes special medication. Include these elements in your plan.
Here are 4 questions to start a family discussion:
- How would we get emergency alerts and warnings?
- What is our shelter plan?
- Where are our evacuation routes?
- What’s our communication plan during and after the disaster?
Preparation Tip #2: Practice Your Plan Together
Your family plan isn’t much help unless everyone understands it. Gather your family for a practice session where you play out various scenarios. If you live in a flood zone, rehearse your actions in a major flood. If your main threat is wildfires, act out a fire evacuation plan.
It’s important to give everyone a role, even young children. Identify their responsibilities in a disaster situation, even if it’s just, “Stay calm. Do what mom and dad tell you.”
Make sure you practice scenarios that last more than a couple hours or days. After Hurricane Katrina, for example, most New Orleans residents didn’t receive help for five days and up to 10,000 people were still awaiting rescue after nine days.
Preparation Tip #3: Stock Emergency Supplies
Prepare a stock of emergency supplies that could provide your family with food and water for an absolute minimum of 72 hours. Include pet food and critical medicines.
You can find an extensive checklist of emergency supplies at ready.gov/build-a-kit, but all supply kits should include these basics:
- Protein and carbohydrate dense foods
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- Medicine and first aid
- Dust masks, plastic sheets, garbage bags, and duct tape
- Basic tool kit and can opener
- Emergency cell phone and charger
Preparation Tip #4: Set Up Financial Security
The outside world doesn’t stop running while you deal with a natural disaster. Plan ahead for the financial impact it will have on your household income and bills.
Some people set aside cash; others have arrangements with far-away family members who could send money during a disaster. Many people have standing agreements with accountants or insurance agents who can provide assistance during a chaotic event.
If you’re a business owner, freelancer, or work from home, create a plan that would allow business to resume as soon as possible after the disaster.
Preparation Tip #5: Make Sure You’re Fully Insured
It’s critical to make sure your family is totally insured against major losses. Homeowner’s insurance alone isn’t enough to provide protection from natural disasters.
Flood insurance, for example, is a supplemental policy that provides protection specifically for flood-related damage. Flood insurance isn’t just for homes in established floodplains. It can also help with hurricane damage, loss due to torrential rain, and water damage due to melting snow.
Talk to your insurance agent about all the various kinds of individual insurance you can buy to protect your home and family. Links Insurance provides a comprehensive set of policies that can provide peace of mind as you plan for the worst. Click here to get a free quote today.