Making a Plan is Simple and Free
And it could be the one thing that you do that saves you the most inconvenience and uncertainty when disaster strikes.
There are a lot of things you don't think about normally, that you really want to have figured out before you need it.
- After an evacuation, where will your family meet? How will you connect if power and phones are not working?
- After an earthquake, how can you get messages to loved ones through overloaded lines?
- If your neighborhood has been evacuated, and you were not allowed to go in to get your pets, did a neighbor know to grab them?
- If you can't get to your home for weeks, do you have account information that will let you carry on with your financial affairs?
All of these items can be organized now, when they are not needed, and kept where they will save you vast problems in a disaster.
The best way to get a plan together is to use one of the forms from Ready.gov or the American Red Cross.
Share it and Keep it Fresh
Now that you have a plan, be sure that you have copies of your important information saved where they will be useful. If you have Go-Bags or First Aid Kits, put a copy there. Every member of your family should have a copy. And you should have at least one "evacuation buddy" who has a copy. Your evacuation buddy and you help each other during a disaster. IF TIME PERMITS, you can go over to your evacuation buddy's home and grab their pets and Go-Bags if they weren't able to.
Every year, when you check your alarms and fire extinguishers, be sure to have a close look at your emergency plan and update anything that has changed.
Save All Your Information
The next thing to consider is keeping a "digital archive" of your important documents. Get a USB memory stick, also called a flash drive, and store scans of important documents. Don't just write down your Driver License and Passport numbers, scan them and store the scans on the USB device. Scan the first page of a statement from each important account, from electricity to investment accounts. That scanned document will make it much easier, faster, and more foolproof to get you reconected to important accounts after a major disaster.
Of course, keeping that much sensitive information on a USB device means you will need to encrypt that information to keep it safe. That introduces its own challenges to get set up correctly. WPV-Ready has volunteers who can help!