The topic of the month where I work has been disaster planning, specifically related to the impending threat of a bird flu pandemic, but also covering situations like terrorists attacks, natural disasters, and even nuclear war. Yeah, we’re all walkin’ ’round work with smiles on our faces these days!
Hopefully your own workplace is planning ahead should the unthinkable occur, but you should also make sure you and your family are prepared by following the guidelines issued by the Department of Homeland Security.
Another measure you should take to ready yourself in the event of a wide-scale emergency is to make sure your finances can weather the situation. While circumstances may vary wildly depending on the nature of the incident, there are some steps that everyone should take now to help protect their financial well-being later.
- Put yourself in a box. Take one statement from each of your bank accounts, credit cards, insurance policies, bills, copies of tax returns, property deeds, and any other income or expenses (print them out if you only receive electronic statements) and put them all in a fireproof box. This is also a good place to keep your social security card.
- Keep a little cash on hand. Some people will tell you to stash away thousands of dollars under your mattress in case of disaster. In truth, you’ll probably be fine with about 20 or 30 bucks per family member, but keep some money available in a liquid form that can be accessed in a short period of time. Banks and financial centers should be up and running again within a couple of days; but if they aren’t, paper money probably won’t do you much good anyway.
- Stay in touch with your employer. Especially if you’re in a safety-critical position, you’ll want to monitor your company’s emergency hotline or website. In some cases of disaster, they may be able to provide you with emergency shelter, food, and financial assistance faster than government agencies. In the event of a pandemic, and assuming the nature of your job will allow it, be prepared to work from home for an extended period of time.
- Learn how you can help. Following a disaster, and once your loved ones are safe and your immediate situation is stable, you should be ready to help those who may not be in as good of shape as you. Your efforts to assist those around you will help your local economy recover faster, and that will mean a return to normalcy sooner for you and your family.
- Remember, it’s only money. While financial stability is a key to long-term survival following a major disaster, you may face life-threatening situations where you must put your physical well-being before your wallet’s. Money can be replaced and homes can be rebuilt, but you’re one of a kind and I wouldn’t mind you hanging around this planet a little longer.
And finally, here are a few more “tips” to help you make it through a major disaster.
- Practice your quacking. In the event of a bird flu pandemic, you can cut through long lines by imitating the sounds of your favorite avian friend and crying out, “Look out! Those birds have the flu!”
- Protect yourself from looters. Forget that fancy home security system. You’ll need to take the law into your own hands if someone tries to get to your Hummel collection. Watch Home Alone to learn the secrets to fortifying your residence. Paint cans on string and tripwired blowtorches could be your best friends in the wake of a disaster.
- Lose weight now! The meaty ones who run slowest will be eaten first should your region descend into anarchy.
- Take control of your local econony. A big disaster is the perfect chance for you to seize that power you’ve always wanted. Gather your constituents, tax them heavily, and live like a king (or queen)–at least until the federal government’s tanks come rolling down your street.
Send your disaster financial tips to Punny Money and I’ll make you a lieutenant in my new world order.