Tips & Advice

Emergency! Are your finances ready?

Larry Larsen, Director of Cyber Security

A constant stream of news stories about devastating hurricanes, flooding and fires reinforce the importance of preparing for disasters.

That’s why each September, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supports National Preparedness Month — a friendly reminder to encourage each of us to be prepared for a variety of unexpected events and challenges.

Although storing up non-perishable food, water and batteries is important, FEMA’s also recommends learning lifesaving skills such as CPR and First Aid, reviewing your insurance policies, and understanding practical safety steps like shutting off water and gas.

All of this is great advice, but when the power goes out or disaster strikes, you still need to buy groceries, pay the bills, and stay in touch with family and friends. For this, the FEMA website, www.ready.gov, shares suggestions for managing the financial and logistical aspects of unexpected emergencies.

HOW TO PREPARE YOUR FINANCES

Create a rainy day emergency savings fund and keep cash on hand for emergencies. Keep cash handy for out-of-pocket costs like lodging, food, gas and more. You never know when the ATMs in your neighborhood may be out-of-service and banks may be closed for several days.

Keep copies of important documents in a secure place like a digital App or water and fireproof safe.

Review your insurance policies and update your coverage, if necessary. Consider any medical needs including prescriptions and equipment. Be prepared for the cost of deductibles for insurance and medical co-pays.

Save contact information for family, doctors, veterinary clinics, financial institutions and emergency rooms.

Sign up for Direct Deposit and electronic banking through your financial institution so you can access your payroll funds and make electronic payments wherever you are.

In our electronic society, keeping your tech devices emergency ready is equally important. Mobile phones can be unreliable during emergency circumstances if you haven’t planned to keep your gadgets protected and powered up. When bad weather is predicted, charge your devices and lower the power settings. Consider getting a backup battery unit or two and keep them charged and ready for a power outage.

Once you have your resources in place, put together a family emergency plan so everyone knows what to do, where to go, who to contact, and what NOT to do in an emergency. Include your pets, too; many go missing in the confusion of weather or other emergencies.

A final reminder... scammers come out in droves after a disaster. Avoid falling for a charity scam; know who you’re donating to.