We are living during an extraordinary time, with a pandemic causing us to view emergency preparation in a different light. As we have seen, guidelines and restrictions change frequently, and how we react has evolved from the beginning of the crisis. The principles of emergency planning as outlined in this monthly column hold true in any situation even when the emergency involves a public health crisis. We look forward to getting to the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic and, in the meantime, encourage you to visit the City’s website at www.walnut-creek.org to stay up to date on the latest information.
After a disaster or other emergency, the challenges of rebuilding our lives begins. In these stressful times, having access to personal financial, insurance, medical and other records is crucial for starting the recovery process quickly and efficiently. According to the ready.gov/financial-preparedness site, there are a number of items everyone should gather in a safe, easily accessible location.
- Gather financial and critical personal, household and medical information.
- Consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used in any crisis. Keep a small amount of cash at home in a safe place. It is important to have small bills on hand because ATMs and credit cards may not work during a disaster when you need to purchase necessary supplies, fuel or food.
- Obtain property (homeowners or renters), health and life insurance if you do not have them. Not all insurance policies are the same. Review your policy to make sure the amount and types of coverage you have meets the requirements for all possible hazards. Homeowners insurance does not typically cover flooding, so you may need to purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program.
Store important documents either in a safety deposit box, an external drive or encrypted on the cloud to make it easy to access during a disaster. (If you do not have access to any of these options, make copies of your documents and keep them with your emergency “go” bags.) Important documents include:
Photo IDs (to prove identity of each household member)
Birth certificates (to maintain or re-establish contact with family members)
Social Security cards (to apply for FEMA disaster assistance)
Military service IDs
Pet ID tags (including any active microchip numbers) and photos that show distinctive markings
Photos of your family members and pets together to show that you belong together
Financial and Legal Documentation
Housing payments (to identify financial records and obligations)
Insurance policies (home, auto, business)
Sources of income (to maintain payments and credit)
Tax statements (to provide contact information for financial and legal providers and to apply for FEMA disaster assistance)
Physician information (in case medical care is needed)
Copies of health insurance information (to make sure existing care continues uninterrupted)
Health Records, including medications, immunizations, major surgeries and/or illnesses.
Household Contact Information
Place of worship
Family members or friends designated to assist in the event of an emergency
Caregivers (for both children and adults)
In addition to the above, if you haven’t already, enroll to receive all income, Social Security benefits and other benefits electronically. This is especially important as a disaster can disrupt mail service for days or weeks.
For more information, please visitwww.ready.gov/financial-preparedness.
Next month: Safety Skills
Stay Safe Out There.
Your Northgate Area CERT Team
If you are interested in learning more about CERT and/or how to become a volunteer, please visit our website at www.walnut-creek.org/cert.
By Judy Caponigro, Northgate Area CERT team, Resident since 2016