I know how important this is. A few weeks before Katrina hit, I lost my home and my possessions in a house fire. Preparation is key.
Here are a few tips I learned that you can pass along to your clients:
- Invest in the right insurance with the right carrier. Yes, your clients can find bargain insurance. It may not be such a bargain when losses occur.
- Take a video of the possessions of the house. I kept receipts for large purchases. However, I lost my entire medical library with a value of many thousands of dollars. If I had only taken a picture of the bookshelves so I didn’t have to recreate the library from memory!
- You can offer your clients a central place to keep digital copies of important documents: passports, insurance cards, medical records, a list of medication, car titles, photos and other treasures. I was working on a book manuscript when the fire struck, and was grateful that I backed it up every day.
- Encourage your clients to create a family plan and put an out-of-area emergency contact in their smart phones. Label the contact ICE— “In case of emergency.”
- Remind clients of the importance of provisions: food and water for the entire family, including pets, prescriptions and first aid, flashlights, radios, cash and a way to recharge computers/phones. The car battery can be a surrogate power source.
- Keep at least a half of tank of gas in the car at all times. Some natural disasters do not have warning signs.
- Consider investing in a back-up generator.
- Invest in fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide alarms and smoke alarms. Know how to turn off the water and the gas into the house.
- Imagine what your life would be like if overnight you did not have ANYTHING. No favorite mug or slippers, sewing kit, pen and paper. If a client sustains a loss, small things can make a difference.
- Remember that kids respond to losses differently than adults. As my parenting educator put it, trauma is like “putting your kid’s brain through the blender.” Recovery from a disaster teaches kids that we are resilient.
I hope that you and your clients never need this advice; however, should disaster strike, you and your clients will be glad you prepared.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those in the path of Irma.