September is National Preparedness Month
Every year, September is designated as National Preparedness Month. This year the month has special significance because we are all still going through a national emergency in the form of a pandemic. COVID-19 has underscored for us all how crucial it is to always be prepared in the event of a natural or other kind of disaster.
We focus on helping people become financially ready for an emergency situation, but there are many other ways to be prepared. There is a lot of good information at the official ready.gov National Preparedness Month site.
This year, the theme for the month is “Disasters don’t wait. Make your plan today.” Each week of the month has a special focus:
Week 1: Make a Plan
This involves communicating with your friends and family about what to do if an emergency should strike. Where will you gather? Where will you shelter in place if necessary? If evacuation is necessary, what route will you take?
Financially, preparedness will include knowing what all of your monthly obligations are, and how you’re paying them. Have a plan prepared in advance for what you’re going to do about your regular bills in an emergency, so you have a simple list of steps to follow when circumstances are at their most difficult. Make a list you can follow to pause any automatic payments in the event of an emergency. If you’re paying more than the minimum toward any of your debts, reduce those payments for the duration of the emergency, then return to normal, higher payments when the situation has passed.
Week 2: Build a Kit
For week two, the focus is on building an emergency kit. Download this .pdf Recommended Supplies List from FEMA to get started.
Financially, it’s important to gather your necessary financial documents and keep them in an accessible place in case of a major natural disaster. Include vital health information, and a printed contact list (these days, we all have our contacts stored in our phones, but you can’t count on electricity during a disaster, so a printed backup list of the most important numbers is necessary).
FEMA and Operation Hope collaborated on an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit that has a good checklist of important information to compile for your financial emergency kit.
Week 3: Prepare for Disasters
Know what disasters could affect your area, and know how to get emergency alerts if the worst-case scenario happens.
Come up with a plan for multiple disasters that could affect you: your response to a hurricane or tornado will be different from your response to a house fire.
You’ll also want to be sure you have all of the necessary insurance to help you in the event of a disaster. If you live in an area prone to flooding, look into the National Flood Insurance Program through floodsmart.gov.
Week 4: Teach Youth About Preparedness
Does all of this talk of preparedness sound like a lot of work? Are you concerned that you haven’t created a plan, a kit, or prepared for different kinds of disasters? You have a chance to help your kids avoid finding themselves in your position someday.
Use free resources online to teach your kids about disasters and how to be prepared. Make this preparedness a life-long habit so they’ll never find themselves flat-footed in the face of a crisis.
Setting up a dedicated savings or emergency fund is one essential way to protect yourself. For tips and encouragement toward saving for an emergency, check out America Saves. Take the pledge to save with whatever strategy works for you. Plus, get reminders, resources and tips to stay on track!
If you’re already finding yourself struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic or any other unexpected situation, we are here to help. Contact us today for free, confidential coaching and expert advice.