September is National Preparedness Month. It is a chance for each of us to learn the risks that we face and to take steps to protect ourselves, our families and our property. We often view those risks as natural or man-made hazards, like flooding, tornadoes or even acts of terror and act accordingly. We create family evacuation plans, put together survival kits and protect important documents, and maintain a greater awareness of our surroundings.
All of those actions are important. Unfortunately, too often we donít take the next step and look at how all of those hazards we face could impact us financially. Natural disasters and other hazards can have the initial effect of damaging homes and property, or worse causing harm to individuals. But for those that were not prepared, the financial distress faced in recovery can be long lasting. For businesses, that can mean closure, for individuals it can mean delayed retirement, downsized living arrangements and dreams unfulfilled.
Those dire results donít have to become a reality though. Individuals and businesses can defend themselves against the financial impacts of disasters. Three areas you can look at while building toward financial preparedness are insurance, savings and planning. Strengthening these three areas will benefit you against misfortune, large or small.
Insurance should be your first line of defense. Talk with your insurance agent to make sure that your existing coverage is enough to protect yourself, family and/or business. Too many Americans are uninsured or under-insured. Also, be aware of the hazards you face as some may not be obvious. Additional insurance may be required for some hazards like earthquakes or flooding. Having the right insurance coverage will speed your road to recovery.
In addition to having the right insurance, itís also beneficial to have a ďrainy dayĒ fund you can tap when needed for emergencies. Having a savings cushion allows you to deal with immediate needs that may occur before insurance proceeds arrive, or pay for needs not covered by insurance. However, dealing with the realities of life and a wallet that is already stretched thin can make building a savings fund a challenge.
That leads us into the final element, planning. FEMA and Operation Hope have developed an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit to help in the effort. The kit has checklists of important documents to maintain as well as other resources to help you become financially prepared. You can find the kit and other helpful resources at
If we all take the right preparations steps now, we can ensure that our families, businesses and communities are able to more quickly recover from any type of disaster.
In November 2017, Lee dePalo was named as the Regional Administrator for FEMA Region VIII, which serves Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming along with the 28 federally recognized Tribal Nations located within those states.