How to Prepare Your Family Financially for an Emergency

Have funds and back-up plans ready, identity theft protection in place, and know who to trust

Emergency Room Sign / How to Prepare Your Family Financially for an Emergency
Image: Pixabay
September 14, 2016

The memory of storms like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina are still fresh in the minds of many. As such, it is likely that numerous consumers have already begun to collect supplies and plan an evacuation route in the face of hurricane season. What many do not consider, however, is the necessity of financial preparation for emergencies.

Follow these steps to make sure you and your family are ready in case the worst happens:

  1. Have Funds and Supplies Saved and Accessible
  2. Being financially prepared for minor and major setbacks and emergencies may be the most important step you can take. Most people know that it is a wise idea to build up an emergency fund for the unexpected. Part of this fund—but only part—should be in cash, in the event that ATMs are not working and banks are closed. However, the entire fund should not be in cash because this would make the fund vulnerable to risks such as fire and theft.

    It is also a good idea to make an emergency supply kit containing food for several days, medicine, and other necessary items. Supply chains are often disrupted by disasters, and properly stocking a kit in advance will ensure that you will not have to pay the inflated prices often seen after a disaster occurs.

  3. Make a Back-Up Plan
  4. Back up all of your personal records and financial data—such as checking and savings accounts, insurance policies, and any creditor information—either on paper, in a secure cloud storage account, on an external hard-drive, or somewhere else secure and accessible. Set up automatic transactions like bill pay and direct deposit in case you have to be away from your home for a long period of time. And make a list of reliable people as emergency contacts.

  5. Protect Your Identity
  6. Keep all of your important documents—such as passports, military orders, and financial records—either in a secure waterproof/fireproof place or with someone you trust. Not only will this provide protection against identity thieves, it will also help you to resume your regular financial routine or get emergency services after a disaster.

  7. Know Who to Trust
  8. It is an unfortunate fact that scammers and fraudsters often flock to areas just hit by a disaster in the hope of finding more victims. If you need aid, make sure that you know who you're dealing with—a well-known organization such as the Red Cross, a military aid society, or a federal agency—and do not trust every person claiming to provide emergency services independently.

By following these steps, you will be prepared both materially and financially if a disaster strikes, giving you one less thing to worry about.

Get Connected with Consumer Connections

Stay up-to-date about issues that really matter! Get the Consumer Connections newsletter!

We're committed to providing you with information you need to make you a better, more informed consumer. Whether it's a vehicle recall, a product recall, or a new scam, we feature it in Consumer Connections.

So why not give it a try? Go on. All of your friends are doing it. It's completely free and comes just once a week.

Have you ever noticed that your bank account somehow had 'extra' money in it even though you knew for a fact it wasn't yours? If so, you are not alone. It happens more often than you would think. All it takes is for a bank teller to type in one wrong number at the time a deposit is being made.

Advances in airbag technology have made 10 and two quite dangerous, according to the American Driver and Traffic Safety Association. The old position puts the driver's fingers, hands and arms in the way of the airbag, which deploys at speeds of nearly 250 mph.

Have you ever considered using toothpaste on your car to take out a few of those minor scratches? If the scratch hasn't yet penetrated the clearcoat, there is a good chance that you can fix the problem with a little bit of elbow grease and whitening toothpaste.

Tell all of your friends and family that you have some type of consumer complaint. We bet that at least half of them will tell you to contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for some kind of resolution. But can the BBB really help consumers? It really isn't what you think it is.