Disaster: Adverse happenings often occurring suddenly and unexpectedly; may be carelessness, negligence, bad judgment or natural forces.
Preparedness: Readiness; to provide what is necessary; rehearse; calculate; address
Safety and peace of mind for you, your family and your business endeavors rest upon your preparedness plan. Nobody is immune from emergencies and generally there is little or no time to think or even plan what your next step should be. The foundation of an emergency plan is being prepared. Knowing what to do in the face of a disaster is your best protection.
Here are a few pointers to get you started on your personal Disaster Preparedness Program:
1. Make preparations before an emergency occurs
> Keep an emergency kit and extra supplies nearby.
> Find out where you would go and what you need to do if a natural disaster strikes your area.
> Stash some cash in a safe place for easy retrieval. In a true emergency, ATM machines may not be operative.
> Check with your insurance agent to be sure that insurance coverage is up-to-date.
> File copies of vital information in an easy-to-grab portable system.
2. Do it now! Procrastination could be costly.
> Information is priceless. Prepare a list of all your valuables and keep it off premise. Trying to remember what you owned after the loss is nearly impossible and only increases stress levels.
> Work out an asset management system where you keep track of all purchases, possessions, credit card numbers and important information. Keep a duplicate file off-premise and remember to update annually.
3. Assemble vital details
> Keep an itemized record of names, addresses and phone numbers of all the key people to call in an emergency. If you are not able to contact important people in your life, someone else could do it for you if this information were readily available.
> Maintain a list of where important documents are kept (birth certificates, wills, tax records, legal data, etc.) so that someone else can locate information in your absence.
> Keep insurance policies up-to-date. Ask your agent to visit your home and help you decide what is appropriate for you.
> Whether you own a home business or telecommute, take out a rider to your homeowner’s policy that insures your equipment and data both on and offsite.
> Create an inventory of all equipment, listing everything from fax machines to telephone. Record the type of equipment, cost, serial and model numbers and year of purchase.
> Back up computer data on a regular basis and periodically store one copy off premise. This can be accomplished by writable CDs/DVDs, external hard drive, or an Internet backup service. It only takes one crash of the hard drive to understand the importance of your programs and data.
> Power problems account for nearly half of all computer data loss. A major power event hits one out of four computers, according to American Power Conversion. Daily sags, surges and noise can cause your system to crash, lock up the keyboard and mouse, and corrupt data. Protect your hardware and data by using surge protectors and uninterrupted power supply (UPS) equipment.
> Why back up? Information is more valuable than money. Hardware and software can be replaced if something goes wrong, but the data represents information that once lost might never be retrieved.
> Hard drives and CDs/DVDs are not perfect. Data can be lost in many ways, including human error, power surges and spikes, and even infection by a malicious computer virus.
> Backing up is the cheapest insurance you will ever buy.
Have you ever heard these statements?
“If only I had known.”
“What do you mean my insurance doesn’t cover that?”
“I don’t have the original receipts that show cost and date of purchase.”
“How else can I prove I owned it?”
“I don’t know if I’m covered for cash value, depreciation value or replacement cost.”
“Business income loss? It’s not in my policy?”
Experts in emergency preparedness services hear these statements way too often. It is tough enough to recover from a disaster, but having to deal with insurance companies is even tougher if you are not prepared. The problem begins when you are unable to provide proof of ownership. Insurance companies want to know that they are paying for legitimate loss. Start now to build your Asset Manager File using either a manual or computer database system. Be sure to store backups off premise.
Nobody likes to dwell on the possibility of a major disaster that you may or may not have control over. However, you can adopt an emergency preparedness plan that will soften the blow. Now, go and start you preparedness program today!
Study the suggestion that Ready America has to offer on their website: http://www.ready.gov/america/index.html. Their slogan is Prepare. Plan. Stay informed.
>> Get a Kit checklist – Assemble an emergency supply kit and develop a family communication plan
>> Learn about potential emergencies in your area and the appropriate way to respond to them. The area maps are located on their site.
>> Learn about your state and local government emergency plans. Your state’s preparedness program will address individual needs for man-made disasters as well as natural ones. Knowing what to do during an emergency is an important part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count.
>> Citizen Corps Get Involved in preparing your community.