Courtesy of iii.org
In the event of a sudden, catastrophic event, you may have just minutes to gather your family and get out of your house—possibly for good. What would you take? Where would you go? Planning ahead for the worst can help minimize the impact of a tragedy and may even save lives. This five-step plan can help get you and your family on the road to safety.
Some of this information is also covered in the I.I.I.'s Know Your Plan app. Check it out for preparedness tips, handy checklists (including ones you can personalize yourself) and evacuation planning advice to cover a variety of disasters. It's a great tool to help get you and your family—including pets—organized and ready to act more quickly if an emergency strikes.
For your evacuation planning:
Don't wait until the last minute to plan your evacuation.
- Identify where you can go in the event of an evacuation. Try to have more than one option: the home of a friend or family member in another town, a hotel or a shelter. Keep the phone numbers and addresses of these locations handy.
- Map out your primary routes and backup routes to your evacuation destinations in case roads are blocked or impassable. Try to have a physical map of the area available in case GPS satellite transmissions are down or your devices run out of power.
- Pre-arrange a designated place to meet in case your family members are separated before or during the evacuation. Make the location specific, for example, "meet at the big clock in the middle of town square" not "meet at the town square". Ask an out-of-town friend or family member to act as a contact person for your family.
- Put all evacuation plans in writing along with pertinent addresses and phone numbers and give them to each member of the family. Note that many home printer inks are NOT waterproof, so take appropriate precautions to ensure legibility.
- Listen to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio or local radio or TV stations for evacuation instructions. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
Many families choose to have a "go bag" ready with some of these critical items. Consider packing the following for an evacuation.
- Prescriptions and other medicines
- First aid kit
- Bottled water
- Flashlight, battery-powered radio and extra batteries
- Clothing and bedding (sleeping bags, pillows)
- Special equipment for infants or elderly or disabled family members
- "Comfort items," such as special toys for children
- Computer hard drive and laptop
- Cherished photographs
- Pet food and other items for pets (litter boxes, leashes)
Making a home inventory and having it handy will be useful if you need to apply for disaster aid. It will also:
- Help ensure that you have purchased enough insurance to replace your personal possessions.
- Speed the insurance claims process, if necessary
- Substantiate any losses for income tax purposes.
Keep the following important documents in a safe place that you can easily access and take with you in the event of an evacuation. And while for most of these you'll need an original, it's a good idea to make digital copies and keep them with you on a thumb drive, as well:
- Birth and marriage certificates
- Drivers license or personal identification
- Social Security cards
- Recent tax returns
- Employment information
- Wills and deeds
- Stocks, bonds and other negotiable certificates
- Financial information such as bank, savings and retirement account numbers and recent tax returns
- Home inventory
5. Take the 10-minute evacuation challenge
To ensure that you and your family are fully prepared for a sudden evacuation, do a real-time test. Give yourself just 10 minutes to get your family and belongings into the car and on the road to safety. By planning ahead and practicing, you should be able to gather your family members and pets, along with the most important items they will need, calmly and efficiently, with a minimum of stress and confusion.
Next steps link: Watch two families practice a 10-minute evacuation.
Courtesy of iii.org
With burglaries constituting approximately 50 percent of all on-campus crimes, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, it is more important than ever that college students and their parents review their insurance coverage.
For students who live in a dorm, most personal possessions are covered under their parents' homeowners or renters insurance policies. However, some home insurance policies may limit the amount of insurance for off-premises belongings to just 10 percent of the total amount of coverage for personal possessions. This means that if the parents have $70,000 worth of insurance for their belongings, only $7,000 would be applicable to possessions in the dorm. Not all insurers impose this type of limit, so check with your insurance professional.
Expensive computer and electronic equipment, sports equipment, and items such as jewelry may also be subject to coverage limits under a standard homeowners policy. If the limits are too low, a special personal property floater or an endorsement can be purchased to cover these items. There are also stand-alone insurance policies for computers and cellphones.
Students and/or their parents may also want to consider purchasing a stand-alone policy specifically designed for students living away at college. This can be an economical way to provide additional insurance coverage for a variety of disasters.
Students who live off-campus are likely not covered by their parents’ homeowners policy and may need to purchase their own renters insurance policy. Your insurance professional can tell you whether your homeowners or renters policy extends to off-campus living situations.
For students going off to college, the I.I.I. recommends the following:
- Leave valuables at home if possible
While it may be necessary to take a computer or sports equipment to campus, other expensive items, such as valuable jewelry, luxury watches or costly electronics, should be left behind or kept in a local safety deposit box.
- Create a “dorm inventory”
Before leaving home, students should make a detailed inventory of all the items they are taking with them, and revise it every year. Having an up-to-date inventory will help get insurance claims settled faster in the event of theft, fire or other types of disasters.
- Engrave electronics
Engrave electronic items such as computers, televisions and mobile devices, such as your smart phone, with your name or other identifying information that can help police track the stolen articles.
The I.I.I. offers the following advice to guard against theft of your personal belongings on campus:
- Always lock your dorm room door and keep your keys with you at all times, even if you leave briefly. And, not just at night—most dorm thefts occur during the day. Insist your roommates do the same.
- Don't leave belongings unattended on campus. Whether you are in class, the library, the dining hall or other public areas, keep book bags, purses and laptops with you at all times. These are the primary areas where property theft occurs.
- Buy a laptop security cable and use it. A combination lock that needs decoding may be just enough to dissuade a thief.
- Most campus fires are cooking related so be careful about the types of hot plates or microwaves you to bring to school, and how you use them.
In the event a student is planning to have a car on campus, choose a safe, reliable vehicle and do some comparison shopping to find the best auto insurance rate. You should also check with your own insurance company as it may offer a multi-policy discount. If you decide to keep the student’s car at home, be sure to let your auto insurance company know, as many insurers will give discounts for students who are living at a school at least 100 miles away from home.
Courtesy of iii.org
Hurricanes are violent and dangerous to your family and your home. When a hurricane threatens to bear down, make sure that you know how to batten down your hatches and protect yourself, your loved ones and your property.
Hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through November 30. But don't wait until a warning—take steps to prepare in advance for a potential hurricane—it's the best way to protect your family, your home and your business.
For more preparedness tips, handy checklists (including ones you can personalize yourself) and evacuation planning advice to cover a variety of disasters, get the I.I.I.’s Know Your Plan app. It's a great tool to help get you and your family—including pets—organized and ready to act more quickly if a hurricane or other emergency strikes.
A hurricane watch is issued when there is a threat of a hurricane within a 24-36 hour period. At that time, you should:
- Purchase any emergency supplies that you don't already have on hand. Hit the stores early, as items such as batteries, candles and flashlights will get snapped up quickly.
- Prepare your yard by removing all outdoor furniture, lawn items, planters and other materials that could be picked up by high winds. If you haven't already, remove weak branches on plants and trees. Lower antennas and retractable awnings.
- Prepare for a potential evacuation by reviewing your evacuation plan and, if you have a pet, your pet's evacuation plan.
- Fully charge your cellphone.
- Fill your car's gasoline tank.
- Jot down the name and phone number of your insurer and insurance professional and keep this information handy in your wallet or purse.
A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected in 24 hours or less, which means a storm is imminent.
- Stay informed of the storm's progress by listening to the radio or TV. Even better, listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
- Install hurricane shutters, board up or otherwise securely shutter large windows and draw drapes across windows and doors.
- Get off the boat—never remain on a boat during a hurricane! Check mooring lines of boats in water.
Hopefully, you're fully prepared with an evacuation plan. Also remember:
- Don't wait until the last minute—shelters might be full or the roads might be jammed. If you have pets, consider traveling before an evacuation is ordered—otherwise, you might be ordered by officials to leave your pet home.
- Take along survival supplies from your list.
- Keep important papers with you at all times, including your home inventory and make sure you have the name and phone number of your insurance professional.
- Take warm, protective clothing for the whole family in case you get stuck.
- Lock all windows and doors on your home. Don't compound hurricane damage with the threat of possible looters.
- Keep all receipts for anything that might be considered to be an additional living expense (ALE) in the event your home is destroyed or damaged and rendered uninhabitable.
Stay indoors. Don't go out even during the brief calm when the eye of the storm passes over as wind speeds can increase dramatically in seconds.
- Stay away from windows and glass doors and move furniture away from exposed doors and windows.
- Stay on the downwind side of house. If your home has an "inside" room, stay there during the height of the hurricane.
- Keep the television or radio tuned into information from official sources.
The storm may have passed, but it likely has created new dangers.
- Beware of outdoor hazards like loose or fallen tree limbs, loose signage or awnings that are in danger of breaking off and falling.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines, and report them immediately to the proper authority.
- Walk or drive extra cautiously as washouts may weaken road and bridge structures.
- In the event of a power outage, throw out food that may be spoiled.
- Boil municipal water before drinking until you have been told it is safe.
Notify your insurance professional as soon as possible of any losses. If you had to relocate, let your representative know where you can be contacted. In addition:
- Make temporary repairs—if they can be made safely—to protect property from further damage or looting; for insurance purposes, keep all receipts for materials used.
- Get written estimates for any proposed repair jobs and use only reputable contractors. Be especially careful of building contractors who want huge deposits up front or encourage you to spend a lot of money on temporary repairs. Ask for their references and check with the Better Business Bureau on complaints.
- Gather any other receipts for expenses that will be covered by insurance or will be tax deductible.