How to Financially and Emotionally Prepare for Disasters
Disasters happen. No matter how well your life has been planned or how hopeful you are for your future, sometimes illness, natural events, and severe damage occurs to our lives, homes, families, and communities. We often like to focus on the positive aspects of self-improvement and fulfillment, but a large part of working to our dream future involves preparing for disasters.
While we cannot accurately predict when a natural disaster is going to occur, we can anticipate the potential for a catastrophic event and start getting prepared. Since the first response to an emergency is often shock or panic, it is important to plan ahead and be ready as much as possible in case the unexpected should occur. Disasters affect both our finances and emotions, so it is important to prepare to handle them both financially and emotionally.
First, you should start by planning ahead for potential disasters. Start thinking about what your home and family might need over the next twelve to eighteen months in case of an economic downturn or a regional crisis. Assume that conditions could develop that would make it difficult to follow your regular budget, and start building an emergency fund to cover expenses during the crisis.
You might need to install extra storage for additional food, buy a water filtering system, and consider stocking up on medical supplies for family members who might not be able to get to the doctor’s office. Planning ahead can be frightening, as we often want to assume that things will continue to work out for the best. However, this is possibly the most important step we can take when preparing for emergencies.
Second, you should begin to stock up on food and supplies that you will need during an emergency. Start collecting non-perishable food like canned goods or items that can be frozen for several months so you will have enough on hand if needed.
Install a water filtration system or get doctor-approved purification tablets in case your regular water supply is disrupted. Buy six months of routine prescriptions to have extras temporarily available for future critical needs. Grooming aids, hygiene products, and pet supplies should also be accumulated in moderate amounts.
Organize an Emergency Plan
Write out an emergency plan, and go over it with family members so everyone knows what to do if a disaster happens. For example, if the home is damaged during a fire or tornado, with some residents able to escape and others away from home, designate a meeting place to reunite in case cell phone service is disrupted. Review your home insurance coverage with your agent to see if updates are needed for emergency contingencies.
Also, make sure you are familiar with your insurance policies. Home insurance usually covers damage to the home caused by natural disasters, but can also cover financial liability for injuries others sustain on your property. You may need to buy separate coverages for fire and flooding. Being prepared will give you peace of mind.
Establish a Network
Make arrangements with neighbors or friends to help each other during a disaster. For example, if something happens to the neighbor’s house, and you see their dog running loose, you could retrieve the pet and look after it until things settle down.
A communications network would be useful in relaying important updates about the neighborhood or within the extended family, similar to communication chains at many companies, where each person calls one or two more until everyone is notified. Staying in touch is critical during a disaster and provides hope and connection.
Take steps now to prepare financially and emotionally for a future emergency. Hopefully, one will not occur, but if it does, you will be ready.
About the Author
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan