September is National Preparedness Month.
No matter where you live, it’s important to be prepared for natural disasters. In our region, we are most at risk for wildfires and earthquakes. Below are links to general information on emergency preparedness from Douglas County Emergency Management, the Oregon Health Authority and Ready.gov (a National public service campaign designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate emergencies).
Douglas County Emergency Management: http://www.dcso.com/emergency_management_N.asp
Ready.gov: English | Other Languages | For Kids/Youth
Each year, National Preparedness Month has a different overarching theme. This year’s theme, focusing on planning, is Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How. Additionally, each week this page will be updated to spotlight a specific aspect of preparedness planning and provide various resources to help you be better prepared. Resource links from previous weeks will be listed below the current week information.
Last week focused on making and practicing emergency plans. Being able to quickly and effectively evacuate can be lifesaving in the event of a natural disaster. Sometimes, however, avoid disaster is not possible. Week 3 will be focused on Checking Your Coverage. (Again, the following information focuses on individuals and households. Businesses also need to be prepared and have their own specific needs. More information of business emergency preparedness can be found here: https://www.ready.gov/business.)
Natural disasters can be highly destructive to physical property. This damage can be financially devastating for the uninsured. Fortunately, there are steps you can take before a disaster hits that will not only help alleviate the financial impact but also remove a stressor from an already emotionally and physically taxing event.
The best thing you can do to help alleviate the financial impact of a natural disaster is to have proper insurance coverage in place and know what to do following a natural disaster. Whether you have insurance already or are looking to purchase insurance, it’s important to know what your policy covers. Homeowner, renters, and business insurance policies all differ in coverage. Additionally each can have differing levels of coverage depending on your specific policy.
It’s important to note that while most policies include fire damage protection, many homeowner and business insurance policies do NOT include flood or earthquake damage coverage. This coverage will likely needed to be purchased separately, as an additional policy. If/when a Cascadia level event occurs, all Douglas County residents will be impacted. Inland residents will like only be affected by the quaking, while coastal residents will likely experience tsunami conditions as well. As such you should make sure to invest in the appropriate additional coverage for your area.If your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you may qualify for discounted coverage. Most high-risk, flood-prone areas (as determined by FEMA) participate. Your insurance provider can provide additional information regarding your qualification. More information about this program can be found HERE. Additional general information about purchasing flood insurance and what to do after a flood disaster can be found HERE.
The cost of insurance varies depending on the value of the property insured and can be quite costly. However, many insurers offer discounts that you may qualify for such as discounts for bundling home and auto insurance, senior discounts, or discounts for taking measures to mitigate damage like installing a sprinkler system, smoke detectors, reinforced roofing, etc. Make sure to inquire about any discounts available when purchasing a plan. The other important consideration when purchasing insurance coverage is to know your settlement options (market vs stated vs cash value, etc.).
Following a disaster, it’s important that you file your claim promptly, make sure to document all damage (photo and/or video), keep receipts for everything related to property recovery/replacement/repair, and make sure to work with your insurance adjuster.
Whether or not you are insured, it’s also extremely important that you document your property and safeguard all necessary records before a disaster hits. Documenting your property provides an inventory that can speed up claims processing, serve as documentation for tax deductions, and provide a guide for purchasing insurance. Whether you document your inventory with a written inventory, photos, or video, make sure to include make, model, and year information when applicable. Pricier items (jewelry, antiques, art, etc.) should be appraised. This documentation, along with copies of any vital records, and your insurance policy, phone number, and claim filing information should be stored somewhere protected and easily accessible following a disaster. This could be electronic storage, a fire and waterproof safe, a bank deposit box, or a combination of the three. You should also leave copies with a trusted relative or friend outside the area.
All of the above information, as well as further details, regarding documenting property, safeguarding records, and purchasing/understanding insurance can be found here: Document and Insure Property Guide
Next week will continue with financial preparedness and focus on Saving For A Disaster. Having sufficient insurance coverage in place will help lessen the long-term financial impact of property replacement and repair. However, immediately following a disaster you will also need money available for food, lodging, gas, and paying bills. As you likely may be unable to work, it’s important to have funds set aside specifically for this purpose to help you get by until you can regain some financial stability.
Week 1 Resources:
Disaster Specific Information: https://www.ready.gov/be-informed
Emergency Planning: https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan
Emergency Alert Systems: https://www.ready.gov/alerts
Emergency Preparedness and Technology: https://www.ready.gov/get-tech-ready
American RedCross “Safe & Ready” post-disaster Survivor registration/search: https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/
Week 2 Resources:
House Fire Preparedness: https://www.ready.gov/home-fires
Preparedness for Individuals with Disabilities/Functional Needs: https://www.ready.gov/individuals-access-functional-needs
How to Build an Emergency Kit: https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
Personal Safety Skills: https://www.ready.gov/safety-skills
Emergency Response Until First Responders Arrive: https://community.fema.gov/until-help-arrives
Prepareathon Info: http://www.ready.gov
Registering a Prepareathon/Community Preparedness Event: https://community.fema.gov/AP_Login