September: National Preparedness Month
Depending on where you live in the country, being prepared for a disaster can mean different things. For those in the west, it might mean earthquake readiness, the Gulf Coast needs to be ready to evacuate in case of a hurricane, and the East Coast learned this year about the dangers of flooding. Every year, FEMA declares September as National Preparedness Month and sets themes for families to work on to be prepared in the event of an emergency. The four weekly themes this year:
- Make and Practice Your Plan
- Learn Life Saving Skills
- Check Your Coverage
- Save for an Emergency
Let’s look at each one of these and explain what FEMA and Ready.gov wants every American to do to be prepared.
Make and Practice Your Plan
This is one of the most important things you can do with your family. Having a plan in the event of an emergency can save your life. First, know how you’re going to get out of every room in your house in case of a fire. Don’t have just one plan, have several. Beyond knowing how to get out, know where you’re going to meet. If you have a mailbox a safe distance from your home, that’s a good spot, otherwise choose a neighbor’s mailbox. That way you’ll know if everyone is out of the home. Practice your plan and stick to it. Know where in and outside the community you can meet in the case of flooding or other local disaster.
Learn Lifesaving Skills
Are you around water a lot? Do you know how to perform a rescue swim? Do the bodies of water around you freeze over? What would you do if you fell through the ice or someone with you did? Consider taking a CPR class or disaster team training. Learning these skills can save your life and the life of a loved one.
Check Your Coverage
One of the biggest surprises for many of the homeowners in Houston was that they weren’t covered from flooding. Flood insurance is a separate type of coverage, as is earthquake. If you’re in an area where you need that sort of coverage, contact your agent. Also go over the coverage you have on your home and personal belongings. As the cost to rebuild continues to increase, so should your insurance coverage. Once you’ve checked and refreshed your policy, be sure to upload important documents to the cloud so you can access them in the event you can’t get to the original copies.
Save for an Emergency
In the event that your area suffers a catastrophic loss, it’s likely that your insurance company won’t be there for you for days or even weeks. That means you’ll need to be able to pay for your own housing, car rental, and other needs until they can process your claim. Having the means to pay will make the disaster less stressful. An emergency fund of three month’s living expenses should be your goal. Also have at least $100 in cash (small bills) in your disaster kit so if power goes out, you can still buy necessities.
FEMA wants you to be prepared for when the unexpected happens. There are many other things you can do to be prepared, just check out Ready.gov for more ideas. Make sure to include your whole family in this preparedness time. If you realize you’re in a flood zone and prefer to find a new neighborhood, Hamilton Group Funding can help pre-qualify you for a home loan. We can also help with cash-out refinancing if you want to upgrade your home to better withstand disaster. Contact us today for more information.