SPRINGFIELD — Preparing for an emergency or disaster doesn’t just mean having enough food and water on hand. According to the American Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter, having an organized set of financial documents and contact information is also key to getting through a stressful event such as a fire, flood, or tornado.
Cash is king, and this is particularly the case during a disaster. Have some extra cash ready, since ATMs and banks may not be accessible and credit-card systems at gas stations and stores may be down. To determine how much money to set aside, estimate how much your family would need for three days if you could not return home, the power remained out, or you were unable to get cash from an ATM or bank.
Paperwork is key to recovery. In addition to having a list of medications and medical information, keep copies of these personal documents on hand: proof of address, deed or lease to home, insurance policies, IDs and passports, birth certificates, Social Security cards, marriage license, and other legal papers.
Keep these copies updated, organized (keeping them in a three-ring binder works well), and in a secure location that you can easily access in case you need to evacuate. Many people store the originals in their safety deposit box.
Make sure you also have contact information for your bank and insurance company, as well as for your utility and credit-card companies.
Finally, take advantage of technology; upload important documents such as personal and financial records to a secure backup or cloud drive that you can access remotely in case you have to evacuate. Other ways to prepare include creating a video log of your belongings (jewelry, appliances, and other valuables) and creating an emergency-information document to record your emergency plans. Additional ‘get tech-ready’ tips are available at www.redcross.org/techready.
For more information about preparedness, visit www.redcrosscwm.org.