Today I went with my mom's group to a fire station to tour the fire engine. I also had a chance to talk with the moms about fire preparedness, but I think it applies to all disasters. As I said to them, it is so likely that you will never need to be prepared. But I never thought I would need to be either. Nor did the millions of people who have lost their homes in the last two decades. Some of this is repetitive, but I want to share it anyway.
1. Have a plan! Have a plan. Have a plan. Have a plan. The ten minutes I sat by the road waiting for Dan to come out of our home were agonizing. I can only imagine if he had gone out the other direction and we had been separated for hours. His cell phone was dead, and I wouldn't have known where to find him until he touched base with me. Now that I have a child, I can only imagine that the panic would be heightened, with each of us uncertain of the other's whereabouts... and that of Kellen. Please talk with your family TONIGHT about where you would meet in the event of a disaster (and don't rely on your cell phones).
2. Protect your data. While our fire was unique and hotter than most, I have heard enough stories about fire safes failing to not trust them with the documents and life possessions I find the most valuable. There are so many ways to backup data (thumb drive, external hard drive) that are fairly inexpensive. I encourage you to put the thumb drive (or whatever you use) in your safety deposit box (which I recommend over the fire safe) or give it to a family member who doesn't live with you or next door to you!
3. Take Pictures! Get out your camera (or video camera) and film your house. Open the drawers. Get pictures of the garage. Go up in the attic. Recreating your life's contents from memory is one of the hardest things I've ever done (*and* I've read studies on the reliability of memory!). Put those pictures/video somewhere safe (please not in your house!). There are companies who do this if you don't want to do it yourself.
4. READ your insurance policy. Please. (And if you are a renter, PLEASE consider renter's insurance.)
5. Review your policy. Look over your insurance policy to make sure you are properly covered. If something were to happen, you could be out $50,000 or MORE just because you weren't properly covered. Check for replacement value coverage, and if you don't have it, talk to your insurance agent about the costs and benefits of adding it.
Have you purchased something in the past year that should be itemized? Make sure to update your policy if you have.