No place in the world is disaster proof. Mother Nature unleashes her horrors globally and year round via hurricanes, tornadoes, wild fires, floods, blizzards and more.
This special Natural Disasters Preparation Page, part of the overall Storm Warnings collection of Don't Mess With Taxes blog posts about disasters and the associated tax implications, provides information on what you should do to get ready when Mother Nature is about to turn into Mommy Dearest.
So, since time is of the essence when a natural disaster is bearing down on you, here goes with ways to get ready for the various catastrophes that many of us will face at some point in our lives.
Being prepared is the absolute best first move. Trust me, the hubby and I have been through a couple of hurricanes and our pre-storm planning made dealing with the aftermath much more tolerable.
The National Hurricane Center says when preparing for the natural disaster on which it focuses, you need to develop a family plan, have a place to go to ride out the storm, secure your home and have a pet plan.
All of those apply to every type of disaster.
On the physical front, make sure you family members in potential harm's way know what y'all plan to do in case of a storm.
Where will you go? Stay at home or go to relatives' homes or a shelter? Which relatives? Where is the nearest shelter? Does it accept pets?
Make sure every family member knows his or her role in storm preparation and recovery. Also make clear the steps each takes if your family is separated, for example at work or school, when the disaster hits. Also give every family member a list of important telephone numbers.
For disasters that could require you to do without electricity for a while, have an emergency kit that includes shelf-stable food and plenty of water, not only for drinking but also sanitary use. Don't forget that hand-held can opener! And lots of batteries or converters that can plug into your car's lighter or special outlet for radios and TVs as well as your cell phone.
You also need a financial disaster kit.
Have a credit card with a large enough credit balance to cover an extended stay at a motel if you have to leave your home and friends and family can't take you in, at least for the full term of your displacement.
Have some cash on hand. Your temporary relocation site might not be near a fee-free ATM. If power is out, retailers won't be able to process credit or debit transactions.
Have your insurance documents, for bother your home and auto coverages, handy. Make sure you have your insurance cards and numbers of your agents in case you need to make a claim. And don't forget your medical insurance material in case, God forbid, you need treatment during or after the disaster.
Round up all your other financial documents, such as bank statements, credit card bills, family records (birth, marriage, death certificates), photocopies of credit and identification cards and an inventory of your home, including both the items inside and your surrounding property.
Tax records definitely should be in your financial disaster go-kit. If you do have to file claims for disaster damage, this data will help.
Don't Mess With Taxes posts that have more details:
- Preparation is key as severe weather seasons overlap (July 7, 2014)
- Tornadoes. Again. Be prepared, physically and on tax front (June 17, 2014)
- California wildfire season has arrived, reminding us that it's time to prepare for it and other natural disasters (May 3, 2013)
- Insurance tips for storm season (Aug. 21, 2008)
- Take a pre-disaster inventory of your home (May 27, 2012; updated May 25, 2018)
- Tax records at top of one Superstorm Sandy survivor's evacuation list (Nov. 13, 2012)
- Fire break, or getting a "go bag" ready (Sept. 6, 2011)
- Last-minute hurricane prep tips (Oct. 28, 2012)
- TS Alberto threat fizzles, providing time to get ready for 2012 hurricane season (May 21, 2012)
- Hurricane season 2012 arrives early as Alberto forms off South Carolina coast (May 19, 2012)
- Get disaster help from the IRS; Before storms strike, prepare! (June 1, 2011)
- Tax holidays on tap for hurricane prep, Energy Star appliances (May 23, 2014)
- Time to prepare for Mother Nature's less maternal side (May 24, 2006)
- Tax prep before disaster strikes (June 17, 2014; Bankrate.com)
- Texas' April 23-25 emergency preparation sales tax holiday is too late for some Lone Star State shoppers (April 22, 2016)
- Virginia, Louisiana drop end-of-May hurricane prep tax holidays (May 28, 2016)
- Wet Memorial Day weekend in advance of official hurricane season. Time to get ready for more storms (May 29, 2016)
- Already active hurricane season 2016 is finally official (June 1, 2016)
- Prepare for Hurricane Matthew hit and aftermath (Oct. 4, 2016)
- Get ready for Hurricane Matthew NOW! (Oct. 5, 2016)
- Tropical Storm Otto threatens Central America (Nov. 21, 2017)
- Texas' emergency preparedness sales tax holiday coincides with 2017 hurricane season's early start (April 22, 2017)
- Catastrophe Savings Accounts (CSAs) offer homeowners in Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina tax-advantaged way to prepare for storm recovery (June 20, 2017)
- 4 things to do now as Hurricane Irma approaches U.S. (Sept. 5, 2017; updated Oct. 8, 2018)
- Alabama kicks off 2018's hurricane sales tax holidays (Feb. 24, 2018)
- Snowbound businesses get more time to file tax extensions (March 13, 2018)
- Texas sales tax holiday encourages emergency preparedness (April 26, 2018)
- LA, TX hold tax holidays over Memorial Day weekend (May 24, 2018)
- 5 disaster preparedness moves for businesses (Sept. 12, 2018)
- Hurricane season 2018 is over, but disasters don't follow calendars so be ready year-round (Dec. 1, 2018)
- Getting ready, physically & fiscally, for natural disasters (May 21, 2019)
- 4 tax and financial tips on the eve of Hurricane Season 2019 (May 30, 2019)
- IRS and other government resources can help you deal with a natural disaster (Aug. 28, 2019)
- 7 tips to ensure your pets' safety during a disaster (Aug. 31, 2019)
- Massive, potentially dangerous storm system underscores need for safety, financial and tax preparations (Jan. 10, 2020)
- A pre-disaster inventory can pay off when filing insurance or tax claims (April 28, 2020)
- Hurricane season 2020 early start means it's time to prepare (May 17, 2020)
- Florida's hurricane prep sales tax holiday runs May 29-June 4 (May 29, 2020)
Looking for more or other disaster info? Check out the separate Storm Warning pages on steps to make your recovery smoother and quicker, how to donate to groups that help disaster survivors, general storm stories and information and additional disaster resources.