Does Your Family Have a Disaster Plan?
FL, May 15, 2014 -- Disaster Survivor Assistance Team (DSAT) member Marie Orechoff checks on the FEMA application status of Toni Talley in Pensacola
Disasters can happen quickly and most times without a warning. You never know when basic services, such as gas, electricity, water or telephones will be cut off. Preparing and planning must prepare your family for this. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility. Here are some ways to help to prepare your family in times of a disaster.
Learn what disasters and emergencies that have the possibility to occur in your area.
Know what to prepare for by calling your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter. Learn what disasters can happen rather it’s manmade or natural and found out what are the best ways to prepare for each one. Found out what public warning systems your community has and what they sound like. Learn the disaster plans at your workplace, school, daycare, or other places where your family may spend a lot of time.
Create and Implement a Family Disaster Plan.
Set up a family meeting to discuss what plan needs to be in place and the importance of the plan. Keep the plan simple enough for everybody to understand and follow. This is a team effort and everybody must know what part they play. Explain the dangers of the type of disasters that may occur in your area. Everybody should know what to do in each instance. By discussing everything before disaster strikes, it will allow everyone to be calm and execute the plan.
You then need to make sure you have two meeting places for your family incase everyone is not together. They should be familiar with the locations and know the address. Right outside of your home in case of a sudden emergency or outside of your neighborhood in case you can’t return home or are asked to leave your neighborhood. Separation will play a big factor if the disaster occurs during the times parents are at work and the children are at school. You need to have a plan of getting everybody together.
You should set a primary person outside of the disaster area as your family’s primary contact. Family members should call the contact and tell him or her where they are. Everyone must know the contact’s name, address, and phone number. Found out about shelters in the contact’s area or arrange to stay with that contact if possible. Plan your escape routes and get familiar with them. You should always have alternate escape routes in place.
If you have pets plan on how you will care for them during a disaster. Unless your pet(s) are service animals they are not permitted to be in places where food is served, according to many local health department regulations. Plan where you would take your pets if you had to go to a public shelter where they are not permitted. Make sure you post all important phone numbers and emergency numbers next to all phones in your home.
Practice makes perfect
Once you have your plan implemented it is important you practice it as a family so it will become second hand when the time comes. You may need to modify and change the plan a little over a period of time. Conducting actual drills with your family will help them be better prepared. You should drive all evacuation routes that is designated in your plan. This should be performed at least twice a year. Make sure to keep stored food and water. Also restock after six months to keep goods refreshed. Check your smoke alarms every month and run test on them to insure they are working well. Replace batteries if needed. The National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission has recommended that you change out your fire alarms every ten years. Also make sure to test all fire extinguishers.
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What Should I Know When Dealing with my Insurance Company?
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When you choose an insurance company, if something happens and you need to file a claim you will be dealing with two primary people from your insurance company, your insurance agent and adjuster.
Insurance Agents are the people who sell policies to people with insurance or “insureds”. Typically, insurance agents do not adjust losses.
Insurance Adjusters “Investigate, interprets policy, pays claim for covered amount based upon negotiated amount or established pricing database (types-staff; independent; local; manager; general adjuster – G.A.; vendor reviewer; public adjuster – P.A.)” (Disaster Academy Manual, p. 14)
There are three common types of Insurance Policies:
1. ACV – Policy which pays a value arrived by calculating the replacement cost and deducting some portion of the value for depreciation.
2. RCV – endorsement to an ACV policy modifying it to pay the full cost of repair, or replacement of items damaged beyond economical repair. (Usually, this is payable only when damaged items are actually replaced).
3. Fire (named peril) – policy which pays only if certain “named” perils are the cause of loss, rather than “all risk” policy which would cover anything not specifically excluded in policy language. (In fire damage restoration there must be a ‘fire’ to be a covered loss – protein ‘fires’ have no combustion) (Disaster Academy Manual, p. 14)
Most Insurance Policies are Broken Down into Four Divisions:
2. Personal Property
- Personal Property is usually a part of Homeowner’s Insurance. However, in certain instances it may not be covered in it. This type of insurance covers the items or contents within a home that aren’t a physical attachment to the structure itself. Soft goods are also covered in this type of insurance. When sorting out personal insurance, the biggest differentiation is the Actual Cash Value of an item versus the Replacement Cost.
Actual Cash Value – is what something actually costs right now in today’s market or the price/value of something based on its usage
Replacement Cost – is the amount of money your insurance company would give you on an item to help replace it. More than likely many items in your home may be outdated, thereby would have depreciated in value. For instance, if you paid $500 for a new TV, a few years ago, now that TV may be worth half as much if that, meaning you would have to make up the difference in cost to replace that particular item.
It is worth noting that Actual Cash Value and Replacement Cost will vary from policy to policy and that you should check with your specific agent.
There are items that aren’t covered under Actual Cash Value or Replacement cost and those are usually antiques, jewelry, or other expensive items that can be found within a household such as art.
3. Additional Living Expense Insurance
- This type of Insurance takes care of all expenses incurred by an “insured” while they cannot live inside of their home.
4. Other Structures (exterior –unattached)
Every Homeowner’s Insurance Policy is different and as a homeowner you should familiarize yourself thoroughly with your policy so you’re already knowledgeable in the event something happens to your home.
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