Disaster Planning – After a Disaster

These tips can help you recover from a disaster, as well as financial ruin

Often, the most threatening moments of a disaster strike us after the storm as a direct response to our actions or inaction. Following are tips that can help you move onwards in a safe and comfortable manner. If you decrease the potential for danger you and your family face after a disaster, you are less likely to suffer more damage to your property or costly medical bills from your injury.

  • Stay where you are until you have been given the “All Clear” notification by a local emergency management official. If you had to evacuate, make sure the local authorities give you permission before returning.
  • Have a battery-operated radio on hand to monitor conditions and receive the latest instructions.
  • If you are returning home following hazardous weather conditions or power outages , be aware that travel times may be longer than usual, and roadways may be hazardous.
  • Immediately assess family needs
  • Immediately assess hazards and conditions in your area
  • Stay alert to extended snowfall, rainfall and subsequent flooding, even after a storm has ended.
  • Watch your TV or listen to your radio after the storm to find out flooded areas in you area. Be careful to avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
  • Use flashlights when searching inside dark buildings, not candles that may catch fire.
  • When power is restored after a flood, make sure the main circuit breaker is off until the water has receded.
  • Do not turn electric appliances on that are damp or wet
  • Do not turn on the air conditioner until power is fully restored.
  • Be cautious when using power generators or sharp items like chain saws.
  • Stay away from downed wires and debris which can cause injury.
  • Make sure water is not contaminated by taking water directives, purifying if needed, and only using safe water for drinking, brushing teeth, and cleaning contact lenses.
  • Consult with insurance and city officials for permanent property repairs.
  • Avoid walking through puddles and standing water near power lines outside your home. If you do come across a loose power line, immediately contact your power company and keep your distance. Ensure that your pets and kids stay away too.
  • If a building is surrounded by water, steer clear. This often indicates parts of your building may be damaged, so you should approach with extreme caution. If you smell gas or hear a hissing sound, get out of your home and immediately call the fire department. If you must go inside, wear protective clothing.
  • Thoroughly inspect your home, and always take pictures of damages so you can claim insurance coverage later
  • Until you are completely certain the water is safe, do not drink, cook, wash dishes, brush your teeth or use contact lenses as it may be contaminated. Boil water before use. Your local health department can provide you with further tips for treating water that may be contaminated.
  • Check refrigerated food to make sure it is safe for consumption. If you aren’t sure, then throw it out.
  • Wear proper gloves and boots when cleaning. Be cautious with hazardous products to avoid injury. Throw away batteries, paints and contaminated fuel.
  • Make sure your pet animals and children are safe.
  • When under extreme cold conditions, seek shelter to avoid getting sick.
  • Avoid driving in sleet, freezing rain, snow or foggy conditions.
  • Wear warm, comfortable loose-fitting clothing, or dress in layers to protect from frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Avoid using a generator, grill, or other propane appliances inside your home. In case of a fire, they can emit carbon monoxide gases that are poisonous and deadly. You may use these appliances in a garage or basement, but make sure they are away from doors, and the areas are properly ventilated.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in your home. Your smoke detectors will not detect carbon monoxide. If the alarm sounds, get outside immediately and call for help.

Surviving a Financial Storm

After an emergency, many families find themselves in a state of financial distress. They wake up in a storm of questions about paying bills, making insurance claims and seeking unemployment benefits. If you find yourself in a financial emergency, these tips may help your financial situation:

  • If you are concerned about paying your bills, contact your lenders and ask about grace periods on mortgage and credit card payments that are offered to disaster victims and see what is available.
  • If you are renting, inquire about renters insurance. Under this insurance, it will be the landlord’s responsibility to pay for damage or loss of property during an emergency. Check terms and conditions of your insurance for exact coverage.
  • File for unemployment benefits if you have lost your job, or if your employer is no longer in business anymore because of the disaster.
  • Be careful when giving out personal information. Insurance companies and banks may need details like your social insurance numbers to verify your identity. Most other organizations do not require this information.
  • Be selective with contractors. Get estimates from multiple licensed, reputable contractors so you can do a price comparison. Check licenses and permits and get contracts in full writing, and find out what your neighbours pay for similar work.
  • Pay as the work is getting completed, but not up front. Make sure all official inspections and approvals are completed before making a final payment.

Consolidated Credit can get you back on track

If a disaster has left you in a state of emergency, damaging your home and your budget, our trained financial counsellors can help you get back your financial health. Call to start your recovery process, or to find out how far you’re behind, send a request for a Free Debt Analysis online.