When someone talks about disaster preparedness, most of us think of an emergency kit that we would have ready in case of a hurricane, earthquake, blizzard, flooding, or other natural disasters. Growing up in Colorado, I always threw my winter kit into the car around November. I later became involved in preparedness planning with my job at the Hawai'i Department of Health. Federal funding focused on man-made emergencies after September 11, 2001. Eventually, we turned our attention to natural emergencies such as pandemic flu and hurricanes. But a disaster does not have to affect your whole community. A disaster is anything that overwhelms your resources. Sometimes something can happen just to you or your family. It can be as routine as your car needing repair. It could be a fire that destroys your home. Here are some small steps that you can take to prepare for those smaller but no less overwhelming disasters.
Do you have an emergency fund? Of course, saving 10% of your income for a rainy day or an emergency is preferred, but if you're living paycheck to paycheck, you can start by saving your change. Change adds up. The next time you buy anything, commit to saving the change to build up your savings. Your change will add up.
In the event of an earthquake, hurricane, fire, or break-in you will need documentation of what you've lost. Sure, a complete inventory is best but it does take time, so today, take your smart phone and walk through your home and just video what you see. For a 3 bedroom house, plan on 30 minutes or less as it doesn't have to be perfect and you're not pulling individual items out to record. The goal is to create a basic picture of what's there.
Whether it's the video you just made, scanned copies of important documents or your collection of family photos, consider keeping a copy in the cloud. It's no longer a case of "just in case of fire" it's now "when your computer crashes, you can still get to your documents." I prefer Dropbox because I've got it set up just right, but there are other free cloud storage options that I'm slowly looking at, such as Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive. For a comparison and a good intro to cloud storage, check out Which Free Cloud Storage Option is Best? from MoneySmart.com.
Check out my Small Steps prepared for your health to find numerous ways to make your emergency kit healthier. Or check out the video below.