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You Need Two Ways Out...

august 21, 2015

New American Red Cross Financial Planning Guide

Safeguarding ones finances in case of a catastrophic event is an often-overlooked aspect of disaster preparedness. In response, the American Red Cross and the American Institute of CPA's (AICPA) developed Disasters and Financial Planning, a comprehensive guide aimed at helping people be more proactive with their financial preparedness in advance of disasters. This guide highlights the importance of:

  • Setting aside a three-day supply of cash to cover expenses one might encounter during a disaster or emergency;
  • Planning ahead by attaining the proper insurance coverage so that disaster recovery doesn't have to come out of pocket;
  • Having a solid financial plan to avoid living paycheck to paycheck; and
  • Having money set aside to address immediate disaster-related needs. 

You can also complete the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) from the FEMA and Operation HOPE. Use the EFFAK to identify your important documents, medical records, and household contacts. Safeguarding your documents is one of the 10 Ways to Participate in Americas PrepareAthon! When you complete this activity, be sure to add it to the campaigns website.

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Beware of Disaster Fraud

In times of disaster, communities pull together to help one another, however, disasters can also present the opportunity for scammers to take advantage of people. Disaster fraud is a very real occurrence during a crisis. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has some tips to help you avoid disaster fraud, including: 

  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to start the claims process;
  • Stay away from adjustors who charge big upfront fees, refer you to contractors, ask you to make a false or inflated claim, or ask you a suspicious amount of personal information;
  • Get bids from several local, established contractors; and
  • Never pay in cash.  

The last thing you should have to worry about after a disaster is a financial disaster due to fraud. For more information on how to avoid scams while on the road to recovery, check out this article from CFPB. 

Survivors should also keep in mind that state and federal workers never ask for or accept money, and always carry identification badges with a photograph. There is no fee required to apply for or to get disaster assistance from FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), or the state. Additionally, no state or federal government disaster assistance agency will call to ask for your financial account information; unless you place a call to the agency yourself, you should not provide personal information over the phone it can lead to identity theft.

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What Are Your Two Ways Out?

If a fire occurs in your home, you don't want to be left without a plan of escape! According to the United States Fire Administration, fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you with as little as two minutes to escape safely once the alarm sounds. Creating a family escape plan is easy! A great way to start is by following these steps: 

  • Walk through your home with your family and identify all possible exits and escape routes;
  • Draw a floor plan of your home and mark two escape routes from each room using an escape planning grid;
  • Get children involved in escape planning;
  • Have a meeting place outside of the home; and
  • Practice your plan at least two times a year. 

Your first priority in any emergency is keeping yourself and your family safe. You can find more information about escape planning and fire safety by visiting the U.S. Fire Administration. Also, be sure to watch this special public service announcement.

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Dates for Your Calendar!

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Disclaimer: The reader recognizes that the federal government provides links and informational data on various disaster preparedness resources and events and does not endorse any non-federal events, entities, organizations, services or products. Please let us know about other events and services for individual and community preparedness that could be included in future newsletters by contacting citizencorps@fema.dhs.gov.


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