In 2020, 1.7 million people in the United States were displaced due to natural disasters. Two main causes: wildfires and floods. They’re growing more intense – and they’re happening well outside the traditional at-risk regions. As our climate changes, it appears more people will be at risk of fire- and flood-related loss and displacement.
There's not much you can do to prevent natural disasters, but a little preparation can make it easier to recover. A digital vault can help you access a disaster plan and log information about your valuables and loved ones. The benefit: a recovery process that’s faster, more organized, and less costly overall.
Here are three disaster preparedness tips to protect your family and valuables.
Tip #1: Stay on your feet with a disaster plan and go bag.
Floods and fires tend to form quickly and with little warning. If you need to evacuate, it’s critical to have a plan for communicating with and gathering your loved ones. Also important: supplies to help you make it to safety and keep life going while you are displaced.
To stay prepared, make a shareable disaster plan. The Red Cross suggests you include:
- Key contact information. Include details for each family member, plus your child’s school or sitter, your partner’s workplace, and your family’s primary care providers.
- An out-of-area contact. This might be a relative or friend who can be a communications hub.
- Multiple emergency meeting points. Identify four locations: indoors (e.g., a basement or storm shelter), on your block (e.g., a tree or cul-de-sac), outside your neighborhood (e.g., your favorite park or grocery store), and out of area (e.g., a friend’s home). Multiple meeting points give you flexibility in case your family’s separated when a disaster occurs.
Once you’ve created your plan, store the document in Prisidio and share it with loved ones. Within your vault, add your partner, children, and out-of-town contact to the People tab. From there, you can send them a free vault invite for access.
Want a more powerful disaster plan? Link your document to all the people, places, and things you’ve included. This way, you can see related information in a single view.
Alongside a disaster plan, make sure to pack a go bag for an always-ready emergency kit. It’s a mainstay for folks living in fire-prone areas, and it’ll likely become more common as fire and flood risk increases nationwide.
Ready.gov suggests you pack:
- A several-day supply of water and nonperishable food.
- Enough clothes and shoes for several days.
- Medications, vital medical equipment, and a medication list.
- Personal sanitation supplies.
- Pet essentials.
- A first aid kit.
- A flashlight and batteries.
- A tarp and duct tape.
- A battery-powered radio.
- Power banks and extra batteries.
Don’t forget disaster-specific items, too: life jackets and water filters for flooding, and goggles and N-95 masks for a fire.
Tip #2: Assess your insurance needs to lower your financial risk
Fires and floods inflict costly damage. In the United States, the 10 worst flood events averaged nearly $4.63 billion in insured losses. And in 2020 alone, wildfires caused $16.5 billion in damages.
If you have homeowners or renters insurance, note that adequate fire or flood coverage could mean updated coverage limits – and separate policies.
Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies don’t cover flood damage, so you’ll want separate flood insurance to cover your bases. And while most policies do cover fire damage, you may need separate wildfire insurance if you live in a wildfire-prone state.
To evaluate your insurance needs, here’s what we suggest:
- Gauge your disaster risk. Tools like Risk Factor use peer-reviewed climate models to help you determine your home’s flood and wildfire risk.
- Assess your coverage limits. Base this limit on the total amount it would cost to replace your home and belongings. Here, a digital home inventory can help – we’ve got a blog to show you how.
- Talk to an insurance professional. An insurance broker or agent can double-check your work to make sure you’ve got enough coverage.
If you choose to update your existing coverage or purchase separate policies, Prisidio can help you secure your declarations page, policy numbers, and key policy information. Simply scan or upload an image or PDF file, and add it to the Document section of your digital vault.
With Prisidio, it’s also easy to add your insurance agent’s contact information directly from the Contacts app in your phone or the next time you consult them. Once you add your agent in the Person section of your vault, you can click or tap Relate to link them to your policy information.
Tip #3: Secure your essential documents in the cloud
In an emergency scenario, it’s important to keep your most important documents close. After you reach safety, you may need your health insurance card to receive affordable treatment. You might also want old tax returns to secure disaster relief funding. When you store digital copies in Prisidio, you can access these files when you need them most.
Which documents should you secure in your cloud-based vault? Consider these to start:
- Driver’s licenses or State IDs
- Birth certificates
- Health insurance cards
- Powers of attorney
- Insurance policies
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Property deeds or leases
Prisidio makes it easy to digitize and upload these documents as you go about your day. Next time you receive a bank statement or pull out your driver’s license, scan or photograph it right in the app to add these items to your digital vault. If you are displaced from your residence, these critical items will always be with you.