Being ready for a disaster is more than storing water and supplies. You also need to be financially ready. Starting early and having a plan to pay your bills and access your important records and accounts help you get back on your feet faster and avoid problems with your credit when you need it most.
Pre-disaster financial planning is essential for individuals and families to complete because disasters leave many Americans without access to finances or with expensive damages. Thousands of Americans just like you – your neighbors and friends – have a plan and keep their important documents in their home disaster kit.
Being financially prepared means more than planning for disasters. Help ensure a strong financial future for you and your family by taking simple steps now to make your money work for you in the long run. Order a free packet of publications from USA.gov and you'll get tips on retirement benefits, smart saving for college, avoiding financial setbacks and more. You'll also get a copy of the Consumer Action Handbook, full of tips on how to avoid scams and fraud to protect your money and financial future. Order your free packet of publications today. Share these free resources with your family and friends, so you can all be financially prepared this month.
Safeguarding your finances and important records is easy if you start now. These steps can help you get started:
- Identify your important documents and place them in a safe space: You can use the Safeguarding Your Valuables activity and Emergency Financial First Aid Kit to help get you started.
- Download phone applications that can help during emergencies: Use the FEMA phone application to access to disaster preparedness, response and recovery resources including disaster assistance.
- Enroll in Go Direct to minimize disruptions to receiving any federal benefits you may receive.
- Plan ahead of time to recover: Our partners at USDA have created great resources to help get you started including Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit and the Disaster Recovery Log.
FEMA has worked with our federal partners from the Financial Literacy Education Commission and whole community partners to compile resources that can help you get involved in strengthen your home, your job and your communities ability to be financially prepared. We encourage you to use the tools below and start early on being financially prepared.
Inventory Home Possessions
Make a record of your personal property for insurance purposes. Take photos or a video of the interior and exterior of your home. Include personal belongings in your inventory. You may also want to download the free Household and Personal Property Inventory Book from the University of Illinois to help you record your possessions.
Obtain property, health and life insurance if you do not have them. Review existing policies for the amount and extent of coverage to ensure that what you have in place is what is required for you and your family for all possible hazards.
Store important documents such as insurance policies, deeds, property records and other important papers in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box away from your home. Make copies of important documents for your disaster supplies kit. Having such information handy should make the registration process for FEMA benefits smoother, should you be involved in a presidentially declared disaster.
Consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used in any crisis. It is advisable to keep a small amount of cash or traveler’s checks at home in a safe place where you can quickly access them in case of evacuation. It is important to have small bills on hand because ATM’s and credit cards may not work during a disaster when you need to purchase necessary supplies, fuel or food.