Financial Readiness in the Face of a Natural Disaster

A recent blog on the FTC’s Consumer Advocacy website reminds us not just to be mindful of protecting our confidential information from hackers, but also from being lost in the midst of a natural disaster. While home is where most people feel safe and comfortable- when a hurricane, flood, tornado, wildfire, or other disaster strikes — it’s safest to pack up and go to another location.

When it comes to preparing for situations like weather emergencies, financial readiness is as important as a flashlight with fully charged batteries. Leaving your home can be stressful, but knowing that your financial documents are up-to-date, in one place, and portable can make a big difference at a tense time.

Steps to take to ensure financial readiness in case of an emergency include:

Conduct a Household Inventory-

Make a list of emergency contacts including family members who live outside your area; copies of current prescriptions; health insurance cards; policy #s for insurance companies as well as contact information; copies of important documents including the deed to the house, birth certificates, social security cards, passports and the like. Make a list of phone numbers or email addresses of your creditors, financial institutions, landlords, and utility companies (sewer, water, gas, electric, telephone, cable) a list of bank, loan, credit card, mortgage, lease, debit and ATM, investment account numbers, SS cards and backups of financial data your keep on your computer; also a good idea to have an extra set of keys for your house, your car, and your safe deposit box, and a small amount of cash.

Consider renting a safe deposit box for originals of deeds, titles, and other ownership records for your home, cars, RVs, or boats credit, lease, and other financial and payment agreements birth certificates, naturalization papers, and Social Security cards marriage license/divorce papers and child custody papers passports and military papers (if you need these regularly, you could place the originals in your fireproof box and a copy in your safe deposit box). Also include investment papers and your living will and health proxy.

Choose an Out-of-Town Contact

Ask an out-of-town friend or relative to be the point of contact for your family, and make sure everyone in your family has the information. After some emergencies, it can be easier to make a long distance call than a local one.

Update Your Information

Review the contents of your household inventory, your fireproof box, safe deposit box, and the information for your out-of-town contact at least once a year.

For more on best practices for maintaining and protecting confidential information, please visit

by Judith