AMES, Iowa – September is National Preparedness Month according to Ready.gov, a public service campaign of the Department of Homeland Security. The site encourages citizens to stay informed about different types of emergencies and how to respond to them, make a family emergency plan, and build an emergency supply kit.
Financial preparedness is also necessary before an emergency strikes, says Sandra McKinnon, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Gathering documents and saving money in an emergency savings account are two steps to work on.
“If a tornado comes through and scatters important financial documents, most of us would be hard-pressed to put all that information back together,” said McKinnon, who specializes in family finance.
To start the process, gather important documents and contacts, McKinnon said. This includes information like drivers’ licenses, passports, birth certificates, Social Security cards, military records and pet information.
Record financial and legal documents, such as insurance policies, tax statements, bills, credit card accounts, investments, the mortgage, banking institutions, wills, and utility and loan accounts so payments can be maintained. This information will also be needed when applying for assistance.
In addition, gather medical information about prescriptions, living wills, and health insurance, plus a list of household contacts like financial adviser, lawyer and health care providers.
Or visit the Iowa State University Extension Store for Getting Organized – Personal and Financial Records, a publication to help you find key information when you need it. Visit https://store.extension.iastate.edu and search for PM 1121.
Build emergency savings
“Emergency savings comes in handy when the tires need to be replaced on a car or the refrigerator no longer is working. For many people, it may seem overwhelming to start saving or add to emergency savings, but having the money set aside makes responding to disasters much easier,” McKinnon said.
“Saving money for emergencies is critical before a disaster occurs,” McKinnon added. “Accessing savings is critical after a flood, tornado, or storm that may cause damage to property. For example, there will be insurance deductibles to be paid, as well as possible temporary housing costs and repairs.”
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