Are You Ready for an Emergency?

by Miranda Marquit · 12 comments

Emergency fund piggy bankRecently, the sky opened up and dumped a great deal of snow on my mountain valley town. While the snow piled up, we were fortunate enough not to lose power or run into other problems commonly caused by lots of snowfall. The potential for problems, however, as well as the memory of recent disasters, had me reviewing my emergency preparedness.

Here’s how to figure out whether you’re prepared for an emergency.

Do You Have the Necessities?

Even though the snow hasn’t prevented us from going out for food and other supplies, there’s enough of it that going to the store hasn’t been something I’m excited to do. Luckily, we have a lot of necessities stored up here at home. Some of the things that we have in the house are:

  • Canned food
  • Water
  • First Aid supplies
  • Alternate sources of heat (propane heater, grill, camp stove)
  • Plenty of bedding and clothes
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Various lighting options, including candles, flashlights, and a crank lantern
  • Crank-powered radio
  • Extra batteries

We’ve been careful to build up our emergency supplies, so that if we do end up stuck in the house for days on end, we’ll be able to survive. We even have board games and books to entertain ourselves if the power goes out and deprives us of TV and internet access.

Think about how you would fare if you were stuck in your home for a few days. Would you have enough food and water? Would you be warm? We’ve already discussed which rooms in our home we would congregate in to concentrate the warmth and light, and we’ve done drills about how to leave the house if the emergency is that severe. Our car has emergency supplies as well, and we keep the tank at least half-full so that we don’t have to worry about gas lines if we go somewhere.

Are Your Finances Prepared for an Emergency?

Of course, it also helps to have your finances ready for an emergency. We have cash in the house, as well as credit cards that can be used in a pinch. And, of course, we have an emergency fund. Being financially ready for an emergency is as important as having other preparedness supplies.

It’s also a good idea to have your vital account information and documents safely stored away in a waterproof and fireproof safe. There are even small-sized safes that are ideal for keeping documents. I like the smaller safes, since you can grab them and take them with you if you have to leave the house quickly. Keep account numbers, phone numbers, passwords, and other information you don’t immediately know safely locked away. Documents like passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, and investment information can also be kept in these safes.

Think about what makes up your financial life, and make sure that the information is protected. Even if you don’t take it with you when you leave, you want it to survive the emergency so that you can come back for it.

Don’t wait to prepare both your home and finances for an emergency. Get ready now, as you can never predict when a disaster will strike.

What steps have you taken to ensure you’ll be ready in an emergency? 

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann January 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Emergency preparedness should be on everyone’s mind, I think. I keep extra groceries stocked up, bottled water, personal hygiene items, and even emergency ways to cook, heat, and light the main room of the house.. I catch rainwater so I can use that for flushing the toilet or it can be filtered for washing up. (I’m on a well so if the power fails, I don’t have running water.) If I need electricity, I have a small generator plus I have a 750 watt inverter I can hook up under my truck hood and run a power cord from it. I use rechargeable batteries, which stay juiced up for emergencies, plus a large rechargeable flashlight that also has a fluorescent bulb on it so it doesn’t run down as quickly. If things got bad and the grid went down for whatever reason, I have ways to cope.

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carolyn January 8, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Yes Ann I agree….we all need a plan and a working plan at that! We are working on being ready for whatever comes. Putting food back, out door cooking space and indoor, meds, medical, cleaning, dont think we have forgotten anything….I know there are more of us out there….just dont know who all you can trust and who you cant…You I know…and know you can be trusted….but not everyone…

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Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle January 8, 2013 at 8:09 pm

My house is more prepared for an emergency than my finances. I never let the gas get low in my car in and always gas up if a big storm is expected. There is always food and we can drain the water from the hot water tank to drink for several days.

A goal for 2013 is to increase the emergency fund of cash in the bank so that I can be prepared for anything. I always have some cash in my wallet, in the car and in the house to be prepared for a power outage or if the debit/credit system is down.

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Kiefer January 8, 2013 at 10:56 pm

I’m always ready for emergencies, but you never know what kind of emergency you would be having in future. So be fully prepared mentally, physically and financially.

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Marbella January 9, 2013 at 12:39 am

A good economic rule is to always have at least one month’s salary in pure reserve fund (a separate bank account) not to be used for holidays and the like, unless something major happens remains discontinuation.

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Goldeneer January 9, 2013 at 9:43 am

Great reminder. This is an area I need to better prepare.
I usually have enough food supply and can heat it up using my camping supplies, however I lack water supply. My emergency cash is lacking though and should be topped up. If the electricity is out, I can no longer operate my gas furnace and have no fuel backup. I should look into getting a generator.
My finances are in good order and can handle several emergencies if needed.

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Shane January 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm

You make some great points. Most people aren’t prepared or are forced to go out when it happens and may not find the things needed or be charged a lot for them. I have basic needs, like caned foods and such, but if a real disaster hit I would last a few days.

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Joyce January 10, 2013 at 8:38 am

When putting some cash away for emergency, it is better to have 100 $1 bills than one $100 bill. Would hate to pay $100 for a $25 must have item because the seller had no change.
This is also important when traveling. I have seen people give a taxi cab driver a very big tip trying to make a plane. That sign on the cab door saying “We don’t carry change” probably is one of their biggest money makers.

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Fred@Foxy Finance January 10, 2013 at 9:01 am

Being prepared for a financial emergency is something we can all recommend but to the average person is much harder to implicate when many struggle to make ends meet. Also what Joyce said about the domination of currency is a pretty good point!

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Krystyna January 13, 2013 at 6:38 am

You cannot be prepared for every emergency. It is impossible. I am a prepper. I know. Store your stuff on the lower level and it can be flooded. Flood isn’t just water. It’s sewage and a toxic brew of household chemicals, gas and oil and antifreeze from cars and worse.
Store it upstairs and guess what? Your roof comes off, a tree crashes into it and you can’t get to it. Or it’s all carried off by a tornado?
Grab and go? Good luck. Do you know how much a gallon of water weighs?
Oh, you’re going to put it in your car are you? What if your car is flooded? Or the roads are flooded or impassible due to snow or ice or destroyed by an earthquake or closed down due to martial law or there is no gas?
Think you can go out and forage? That doesn’t work if all the vegetation is destroyed by salt water or chemicals or nuclear waste.
You can plan and prep til the cows come home but you cannot prepare for everything. All you can do is have faith in the Lord that he will show you the path to follow.

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Lance @ Money Life and More January 14, 2013 at 3:09 pm

While I have an emergency fund set up monetarily I definitely need to set up a physical emergency fund. I live in Florida and don’t have a hurricane kit! Thanks for reminding me.

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Karen Money Saving Enthusiast February 5, 2013 at 10:01 am

Great info., Miranda. We’ve had the hurricane and other bad storms on the East Coast. I should be more prepared. Thanks for the reminder.

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