Before a Disaster Hits You
Is your Important Information handy if a disaster strikes you
or your loved ones?
OR DOES IT GET BLOWN AWAY, BURNED UP or LOST?
"Nine out of ten homeowners don't know where the deed to their
home is. Or for that matter, WHERE other important or irreplaceable documents
are stored," according to Janet L. Hall, Professional Organizer and
owner of OverHall Consulting.
According to Ms. Hall many people think that disasters will never happen to
them, and never think about where or how their important or irreplaceable
documents are kept and stored.
At the very least Ms. Hall states that a written record of important policy,
account and phone numbers should be recorded, as well as medical information, in
one easy to locate book.
These documents should be stored in a fire proof or safety deposit box:
Cemetery plot deed
Investment records: keep only statements that have a purchase
or sell on them and year end statement.
Living trust: give a copy to your doctor, attorney, and executor.
Living will: give a copy to your doctor, attorney, and executor.
Mutual fund certificates
Powers of attorney
Social security cards: you don't need these in your wallet unless
you are looking for a job or buying a house.
Titles to vehicles, boat, camper/trailer
Need help with your Home Paper Clutter or getting it organized? Check out
Janet's Email Course, 35 Days to Sorting and Organizing ALL Your Home
Papers at her web site
How to Prepare for a Disaster
by: Shirley Green, Professional Organizer
[Editor's Note: Shirley went through four hurricanes last year when
she first moved to Florida. While living in Colorado she has been
very close to wildfires and probably some blizzards also. Check out Shirley's
Pink Sheet Emergency Medical Kit and
Personal Paper Tracking System (a FEMA representative told Shirley
"if the folks I have already seen had had this kit [ Personal Paper Tracking
System] AND completed it, life would be much easier for them and FEMA right
One should always prepare for an evacuation to make that actual event go as
smooth as possible but continue those optimistic prayers for the best. This
family evacuation plan should be developed LONG before the storm or disaster
hits. In other words - DO IT NOW! Don't wait! Do it while everyone involved is
under a relaxed manner, minds are thinking rationally, there is plenty of time
to locate a "designated single-point-of-contact", and evacuation routes can be
determined. The plan can be reviewed and revised in a calm and logical manner.
In other words, the more organized you are now, the easier you and your loved
ones will tolerate the emergency event.
OK, let's get started. I cannot address everything in this article so will
address the most important. Like anything in life, let's start AT THE BEGINNING.
Everyone should have an emergency family plan. This plan can be utilized for
any type emergency, (i.e.: earthquakes, floods, fires, tornadoes, blizzards).
What should be in a FAMILY PLAN?
Discuss with the entire family the various
hazards that could affect your family. Be well aware of your home and vehicle's
vulnerability to the storm.
- Locate a "safe" room or THE safest area in
your home for each hazard identified in the previous step. In many
circumstances, the safest area(s) may NOT be in your home BUT within your
- Determine escape routes from your home and
places for loved ones to meet. Keep the mileage just "outside" the storms
expected "initial target" spot, rather than hundreds of miles away.
- Designate an out-of-state family or friend as
a "single-point-of-contact" for family members to check in with.
- Make plans for pets.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by the
phone, placing a copy in each person's wallet/purse. Make certain that children
know how and when to call 9-1-1.
- Check your insurance policies. Many
homeowners insurance policies do not include flood damage. Be aware that many
insurance companies have a "cut off" time for any changes to policies prior to a
major storm season arriving.
Stock up on non-perishable emergency supplies
>> first aid kit
>> toiletries/hygiene items
>> radio - battery operated
>> toys, books, games, special stuffed animal
>> important documents (place them in a waterproof
>> full gas tank in all vehicles
>> pet care items
>> NOAA weather radio ... this is a nationwide
network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information direct
from a nearby National Weather Service office.
>> First Aid kit ... be certain to include
>> Be certain that you have written down the drug
name, strength, dosage, prescribing Dr., pharmacy name/number. Place this
information in a waterproof container (just in case something happens to the
First Aid kit)
Let's say you had these items together and the disaster is growing nearer and
nearer and the decision has to be made, do we stay in our home or do we leave?
(if the situation is a "voluntary evacuation").
If the situation is at a "mandatory" evacuation status, PLEASE DO NOT play
"macho" and say "we can stick it out". Emergency Preparedness folks study these
disasters for a living and get paid BIG BUCKS for what they do, PLEASE DO NOT
second guess them!
After the Disaster
OK, the disaster has passed and you are allowed back into your residential area.
You are now astutely aware of what you wish you would have had recorded and
stored for the disaster you have just experienced. Make some detailed notes
while these thoughts are fresh in your mind. Place these notes in a secure area.
Once the situation has settled down a bit and life seems a "tad bit more
normal" then start working on the notes you made earlier. In addition, if the
below was NOT part of your notes, you need to incorporate them into your action
By creating a family plan and setting up an area of your home to be stocked
with non-perishable emergency-need items is an excellent way to organize and
prepare for the non-pre-warn disaster.
In the area with the supplies: replace items (such as batteries) every
6 months. Rotate the non-perishable foods out and replace them with fresh items.
Go over your family plan as there may be updates that need to be documented.
The out-of-state single point of contact is "a must" in any disaster. So many
times a large portion of land line phone lines are knocked out and everyone is
trying to use what is still working thus overloading the circuits, not to
mention people who are trying to call into the area from who knows where in the
world. Many times the land line phones that are still working are only working
on an "outbound" call format. Then the cell phone situation, more than likely a
lot of the cell-towers have been damaged, thus restricting call flow. Also, keep
mind Emergency personal should be given TOP priority to those cell phone
airwaves. Respect their needs, they ARE trying to help you and your loved ones!
Permission is granted to reproduce, copy or distribute
P.R.O.N.T.O. or any article(s) by Shirley M. Green
© Copyright 2005 by Shirley M. Green, P.R.O.N.T.O.
Personal Records Organizer, LLC
P.O. Box 745845
Arvada, CO. 80006-5845
Hurricane Preparedness ,
Preparing for a
Wildfire Damage: A Checklist for Homeowners (PDF document),
Wildfire: Are You Prepared?
Before A Flood,
Before a Landslide or Mudslide ,
Winter Weather Preparedness Tips,
Planning Tips for Pets, Livestock and Wildlife
Check out Janet's Blog,
Organize IT for more information on disaster material goods donations
and sharing your home with disaster evacuees.
Preparing for the Disaster and
Disaster Recovery Planning and
Disaster Recovery Planning Without Destroying Your
Is Your Business Ready?
Institute for Business & Home Safety has 10 quick questions to ask yourself.
Business Continunity Plan
Business From Disasters Some great reports here!
Check out our information and links for
After the Disaster