Too often when the latest hurricane threatens to make landfall, hundreds of thousands of residents in potentially impacted areas could be urged or ordered to evacuate.
It’s never a good idea to wait until the last minute to put together a financial emergency kit and bug-out bag. Delay too long and you may not be able to find all the important papers you’ll need in the scramble. Or you’ll find the stores shelves empty when you need supplies!
Here’s what should be in your emergency survival kit
The Red Cross suggests you have the following 15 essential items for your emergency survival kit:
- Water: one gallon per person, per day (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
- Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
- Battery-powered radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Medications (seven-day supply minimum) and medical items
- Multi-purpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of personal documents (see list below)
- Cell phone with chargers
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash (money expert Clark Howard recommends $400)
- Emergency blanket
- Map(s) of the area
Most of us just need to do basic preparation. You don’t have to be into extreme theories or worry about the end of the world. Many times when the moment of need comes, it will be far less dramatic than you might imagine, but still really disruptive to your life.
Don’t forget about financial preparations!
Having your financial documents in a safe and remote place is really important to pick up the pieces later.
- Insurance policies (or any related/contact information you can find if you’re in a hurry)
- Prescriptions and/or important medical records
- Birth and marriage certificates
- Mortgage info
- Car registration
- Drivers license or personal identification
- Social Security cards
- Recent tax returns
- Employment information
- Wills and deeds
- Stocks, bonds and other negotiable certificates
- Bank, savings and retirement account numbers
- Copies of your pet’s medical records
- Any other identification/tags for your pets and/or pet carrier
- A paper copy of a recent utility bill, school registration records or any other recent government document to further prove residence
In addition, you’ll probably also want to consider an external hard drive to back up your data. And to really have peace of mind when it comes to data, back it up twice by also uploading it to a free cloud service such as:
- Google Drive – Free account comes with 15GB of space
- Dropbox – Free account comes with 2GB of space
- iCloud – Free account comes with 5GB of space
- OneDrive – First tier with 5GB of free storage
Think about the best ways to get in touch with loved ones
Communication with loved ones can be challenging during a natural disaster. Wired recommends the following:
- Text, don’t call. Leave the phone lines open for first responders. Try using text messages rather than voice calls to avoid getting blocked by any network congestion — the smaller data packets can often sneak through while the larger voice files get stuck.
- Use apps. While cell networks and phone lines are generally limited to one communication protocol, apps like Twitter or Facebook Messenger can get your message through.
If you’re the loved one and people are trying to reach you:
- Get to a hardwired data connection. If you’re in an impacted area, a cable internet connection might be your best bet — these fatter pipes are made to handle larger surges of traffic. Plus, they have a decent track record of withstanding worst-case scenarios.
- Think viral. Email your mom, update your Facebook status, tweet your condition and whereabouts. Whether you’re totally fine or in desperate need of help, let the viral nature of the internet work for you.
- Update your voicemail message. If you can make only one call, make it to your voicemail. Change your outgoing message, so when folks try to reach you and the call goes straight to voicemail, they still get updated on your status.
It’s no fun to be unprepared. These are simple things you can do that require minimal money and a minimal investment of time!