The Dallas, TX tornado and devastating California wildfires are the most recent reminders that disaster can strike anywhere, at any time.
Rebuilding after a natural disaster is expensive on so many levels. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared yourself, and to know how to best help communities and individuals as they rebuild.
Natural Disasters Preparedness for Your Family
Too often, people don’t think they’ll be the victims of a natural disaster until after it’s happened. The time to prepare is well before anything happens.
Best-case scenario, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you’re ready. And if you end up needing to flee your home, protect your family or rebuild, you’ll be so grateful for the extra time you took to get prepared.
Here are some actions that don’t take long, but will protect you if you need them:
- Take pictures of valuables for insurance. Go around your home and take pictures of every room in the house. For items that are particularly valuable, include a card with the date of purchase and price next to each item. Save multiple copies of your photos in different locations (physical and digital) for safekeeping.
- Fill a bag with essentials you’ll need in case of emergency. Include items like bottled water, spare phone chargers, a flashlight, non-perishable food items, cash and dust masks. CNET also has a list of great ideas for a complete “go bag.”
- Keep important documents together in a waterproof bag and/or a fireproof safe. Make sure they are easily accessible.
- Have some pet food and a drinking water bowl on hand for your pets. Make sure they have updated contact information on their collar tags. If your pet is microchipped, also be sure to update your contact information through the company. Here is the ASPCA’s guide for how to prepare your pets for a disaster.
After a Natural Disaster: How You Can Help
The very best way to help communities affected by disasters is to donate money or gift cards. Many people rush to offer items like food and clothing, but unless they have been specifically asked for, those items can get overwhelming fast. There might not be enough storage and volunteers available to sort through the influx of material donations.
Money is much easier to handle and it can be used to help wherever resources are needed most.
That being said, be very cautious about which organizations you are giving your money to. Crowd-funding pages abound after a disaster, but they’re not the most reliable sources. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for scammers to try to take advantage of the public’s goodwill after a disaster.
Do your research before donating to charities, too. Not all of them give the same amount, and they might not align with how you would want your donation to be spent.
The following websites publish lists and rankings of the top charities to donate to after a disaster:
When to Donate Money
In the aftermath of a disaster, there is usually an influx of donations. As helpful as that is, disaster victims need help for months after a disaster. New needs pop up as communities rebuild.
Consider setting up monthly donations to an organization you trust if you want to continue funding relief efforts.
About Your Richest Life
At Your Richest Life, Katie Brewer, CFP®, believes financial resources and fee-only financial planning should be accessible. For more information on the services offered, contact Katie today.