How to prepare for the next emergency


Gabriella Barthlow, a financial coach in the Detroit area, was ready when a multistate power outage hit in 2003. She has enough money on hand to buy food for herself and her two young children, and she puts gas in her car in case she needs to leave the house. was

“I was so happy to have that cash,” she recalls. Now, Barthlow encourages clients to prepare for the unexpected as well. Power outages, weather disruptions, and other disasters can cause disruption and financial loss, but with little warning, being prepared can minimize the damage.

Here are some steps you can take to prepare for the next emergency.

secure physical cash

As Barthlow found, cash can be critical during extended power outages, as machines that accept debit and credit cards may not be operational. Bernie Kerr, author of “The Prepper’s Pocket Guide” and founder of, recommends keeping enough cash on hand to cover gas and food for a few days and carrying at least some of it with you. I want to

“I like to keep $40 in cash in my car or wallet so I can always go home in case the register isn’t working,” says Carr.

The money will be added to your emergency savings fund. This is kept in a savings account to help him through periods of unforeseen hardship or loss of income.Financial experts recommend setting aside 3-6 months of his expenses in that account. often

slowly pile up supplies

Carr suggests long-term purchases of equipment to help survive temporary interruptions in power, water, and other utilities that can occur during natural disasters.

“The next time you go grocery shopping, set aside $10 and get a bottle of water, your favorite canned food, or instant oatmeal,” she suggests. Put together a first aid kit that includes items like antibacterial wipes, or flashlights and extra batteries.

“Many of our emergency supplies are camping gear, so there are a lot of sales around summer,” says Kerr.

collect important documents

Barthlow suggests collecting important documents (contact numbers). insurance information; recent bank statements; identification; marriage, birth, and divorce certificates — in a waterproof, fireproof box, scanned and stored online in a password-protected account or flash drive; increase.

“We also ask them to keep their lives organized, because if you have tons of paperwork you can’t find what you need,” says Barthlow.

This streamlined approach allowed “within an hour I could walk out of my house and know where all my important documents were,” she says.

Paul Golden, spokesperson for the National Fund for Financial Education, a nonprofit that promotes financial education and well-being, says January is an ideal time to take on that challenge. “The new year is a good time to get the preparatory work done. It’s the time when people take inventory, organize their documents, and decide to be better all around.”

protect credit

During emergencies, it can be easy to fall behind on bills and credit card payments, which can damage your reputation, warns Golden.

“If you anticipate disruptions to your timely payments with your creditors, contact each creditor and let them know the situation.We may ask for an extension,” he suggests.

In the event of widespread disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic or power outages, businesses may offer adjusted payment plans for those affected, which you may need to ask for or opt-in to. I can’t.

Also, scammers often target victims of natural disasters, so beware. “Be vigilant in any emails or phone calls sent to you and make sure you know who you’re talking to before sharing account information,” says Golden.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be an insurance company or financial institution, I recommend hanging up and calling customer service to make sure you’re really talking.

start the recovery process

Once the emergency has passed, it’s time to pick up the pieces. File insurance claims, rebuild spent emergency savings, and replace used supplies. Golden suggests taking detailed notes of all customer service interactions to facilitate follow-up and refund tracking. increase. provides access to community resources such as food banks.

Surviving an emergency can inspire you to prepare for the next. Hurricane His Ike in 2008 made Kerr, who was living in Houston at the time, more focused on preparation.

Carr says everyone should review their emergency supplies at least once a year. “Like having car insurance, it should be part of your everyday life. Emergencies are bound to happen, but most people are unprepared because they haven’t thought about it. ”

This column was provided to The Associated Press by personal finance website NerdWallet. The content is intended for educational and informational purposes and does not constitute investment advice.


Kimberly Palmer is a personal finance expert at NerdWallet and author of “Smart Mom, Rich Mom.” Email: Twitter: @KimberlyPalmer.

Related Links:

NerdWallet: Emergency Fund: What It Is and Why It Matters

Government Disaster Assistance

Copyright © Associated Press. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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