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Preparing for emergencies, disasters

  • Published
  • By Shauna Lacey
  • Airman & Family Readiness Center
The current fragile state of our national economy and the recent natural disasters which have swept through multiple regions of the country this year should have all of us thinking about the following questions: How prepared are you for a financial emergency? Do you have an emergency account -- a specified amount of savings to help weather one of life's unpredictable events like the loss of a job, a medical emergency or another unexpected event? What's your plan for you and your family in the event of a natural disaster such as a tornado or flash flood? Would you and your family know what to do?

Realistically, these are not things most of us think of as we go about our day-to-day business. In fact, it's only when we experience an emergency or disaster that we wish we had been a little more proactive and prepared. Let's take a look at some things you can do now to be better prepared.
To be financially prepared, analyze your current spending plan and evaluate what events you should have funds for. For example, what is your deductible on your car or home insurance policy; many people have no idea until a claim occurs. Then, they are often very surprised and not in a good way. Where do your parents, siblings and in-laws live; how much would it cost to travel to that location in an emergency situation? Other things to consider are vehicle and home appliance repairs -- use an average of past repair costs. Add this estimate to your total. If you currently have an emergency account, how did you do? Do you have an adequate amount for your personal situation? If the account is a bit deficient, slowly add funds until you have an adequate amount of savings for your situation. If you don't have an account, now is a good time to start one. You probably arrived at a number somewhere between $1,000 and $3,500. Don't panic. Very few people have that amount of money available to immediately start an emergency fund. Start small with $25 a pay day. If you steadily contribute, at the end of 12 months you will have $600 saved and will be well on your way to an established emergency fund.
Now let's discuss disaster preparation. Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. What would you do if basic services such as water, gas, electricity or telephones were cut off? What would you do in the event of an evacuation? It is highly recommended that every household have an emergency supply kit. The supply kit provides the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clothing and warmth. Check for further details a source for emergency information. Also, now is good time to review your insurance policy. Do you need a separate policy for guns, jewelry, antique furniture, etc. Basic insurance will not cover these items.
Now comes the most important part: Take five minutes to designate a relative or friend who lives in another part of the country. Have everyone in the family memorize the contact's number, and instruct them that in an emergency, they are to call the contact and say where they are. Instead of desperately trying to call each other, you can call the contact and get a full report on everyone's location and safety.

The professional staff of the A&FRC can easily assist you in creating an individualized plan to address emergencies and disasters. Best of all, their services are free. The center is located at 7106 Randall Ave, Bld. 207 or call 773-2241. Remember, your future is in your hands, and the A&FRC can provide you with skills to make it a secure one.