Before Natural Disaster Strikes!


Written by: Jon McGraw

Floods, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes happen—regularly. You or someone you know may have already been affected by one of these potentially devastating events. Hopefully this has motivated you to have a plan to protect your loved ones, pets and property. Please read on for some ideas on how to plan and prepare for something we all hope never happens.

When you return to what’s left of your home, what will you wish you had taken with you or taken care to protect before the disaster struck? What information will you want at your fingertips while you’re away trying to coordinate your life from a hotel room or friend’s house?

Governmental agencies responsible for alerting the public about natural disasters sometimes refer to the “5 P’s” to use as a guide during a last minute evacuation:

  • People
  • Pets
  • Prescriptions
  • Papers
  • Pictures

The “5 P’s” are a good place to start when developing a disaster readiness plan. If you plan ahead, you can give more thought to some of the details concerning these and other important aspects of protecting what you love and gathering what you can’t live without.

People – how will you get your family members to a safe place; especially those that have mobility challenges?  Include a first aid kit, bottled water, nutrition bars, and cell phones and chargers in your readiness plan.  Where will you meet if you can’t communicate by phone?

Pets – how will you gather and transport your pets to a safe place?

Prescriptions – can you gather them quickly? Place them in a weatherproof container or bag.

Papers – hopefully you have important documents stored in a fireproof/waterproof safe. Even so, keep a “cheat sheet” with your account numbers, phone numbers, user names and passwords in a place where you can quickly locate it; grab your computer backup drives (be sure your plan includes doing regular ongoing backups of computer files).

Pictures, jewelry and keepsakes – a checklist will help you quickly locate and select the items you want to take with you—remember you may have little time and space.

Start your plan by creating a checklist.  Get input from your family. You can find some additional planning and preparation resources at, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) web site.

Think about it: the most unfortunate losses are the preventable ones. How does your current disaster readiness plan stack up?

Many of the things we do as a Family CFO focus on planning ahead. In the case of preparing for a disaster, much can be planned for in advance. In addition to creating a readiness plan, you should review all of your property insurance coverage. Don’t assume you have coverage, especially for flood and earthquake! We can assist with your readiness plan and your insurance review process.

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