Disaster Planning Tips

No one wants to spend their life worrying about all the bad things that can happen — fire, flood, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, etc. But burying your head in the sand doesn’t work either. Fortunately, having a plan and being prepared allows you to stop worrying and enjoy each day as it comes.

Before An Emergency Happens

Checkmark-Iconhave an escape plan that includes 2 exits from every room

Xmark-Icondrill your family regularly so they respond automatically — you shouldn’t have to think what to do

Checkmark-Icondiscuss how you will connect with family members if you’re separated — phone, meeting place, etc.

Xmark-Iconchoose a contact person and safe shelter or meeting place

Checkmark-Iconlabel the shutoff valves for your household gas, oil, water, and electricity

Xmark-Iconchange your smoke detector batteries twice a year

Checkmark-Iconcheck your fire extinguishers yearly and replace when they expire

Xmark-Iconkeep a flashlight near each bed and by the fuse box

Checkmark-Icongather your emergency supplies, food, and water together

Xmark-Iconmake sure upstairs rooms are equipped with escape ladders

Creating A Disaster Kit

Checkmark-Iconfirst aid kit, common medications, and needed prescriptions

Xmark-Iconbasic tool kit and duct tape

Checkmark-Iconextra clothes, heavy sweaters, and sturdy shoes

Xmark-Iconheavy plastic garbage bags and aluminum foil

Checkmark-Iconheavy work gloves

Xmark-Icondisposable plates and utensils

Checkmark-Iconbottled water — 1 gallon per person per day

Xmark-Iconnon-perishable packaged food for several days

Checkmark-Iconwater disinfectant tablets or bleach

Xmark-Iconcan opener and camp stove with sterno

Checkmark-Iconcandles, matches, and flashlight with extra batteries

Xmark-Iconbattery-operated radio

Checkmark-Iconfire extinguisher

Xmark-IconSwiss army knife or other multi-tool

Checkmark-Iconemergency foil blankets, extra blankets, and pillows

Xmark-Icontoiletry kit, antibacterial soap, and toilet paper

Checkmark-Iconpet and baby supplies if necessary

Xmark-Iconcards, a book, or portable games for entertainment

Checkmark-Iconsome extra money to last you up to a week

During A Disaster

Xmark-Icontry to remain calm

Checkmark-Iconcheck for injuries and administer first aid or seek other help

Xmark-Iconcheck for fires and put them out with a fire extinguisher

Checkmark-Iconshut off your home’s utilities if necessary

Xmark-Icontake cover and protect your head and face

Checkmark-Iconturn on a battery-operated radio or car radio for bulletins

Xmark-Iconconfine frightened pets to a crate or small room to keep them calm

Checkmark-Iconstay indoors if it is safe — evacuate if there seems to be structural damage

If You Have To File An Insurance Claim

Xmark-Iconyou will need to tell the insurance company what you owned to file a claim

Checkmark-Iconhave to show value, condition, etc. to be accurately reimbursed

Xmark-Iconyou need to create a household inventory before disaster strikes

Checkmark-Icongo from room to room photographing or videotaping each

Xmark-Iconopen each cabinet, drawer, and closet for a close-up shot

Checkmark-Icontake individual pictures of particularly valuable items

Xmark-Iconinclude pictures of serial numbers on electronics and appliances

Checkmark-Icondon’t forget larger items in the garage, basement, or outbuildings

Xmark-Iconwrite a description of each item with serial number and brand name

Checkmark-Iconfor especially valuable items, get a certified appraisal

Xmark-Iconstore the original inventory in a fire safe or safe deposit box

Checkmark-Iconcan also give a copy to your insurance agent or a trusted family member

Xmark-Iconkeep a copy of your homeowner’s insurance policy with the original inventory

Checkmark-Iconstore receipts for expensive items with the inventory

Xmark-Iconnote the purchase date and price of each item

Checkmark-Iconprepare an aggregate estimated value for all of your belongings

Xmark-Iconreview and update your entire inventory yearly

Vital Records To Keep On Hand

Checkmark-Iconlist of bank accounts, numbers, and contact info

Xmark-Iconlist of emergency contacts — plus friends, family, and important business contacts

Checkmark-Iconcopies of insurance policies

Xmark-Iconcopies of identification — driver’s license, passport, etc.

Checkmark-Iconeach family member’s health history

Xmark-Iconcopies of social security cards

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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