What a wild week of weather, temperatures and unexpected events! How thankful we can be to have water and lights upon demand, cool homes to enjoy and refrigerated food.
With the magnitude of this storm (15 miles wide and 30 miles long), the damage was significant to many households as I’ve answered many questions concerning food safety this week.
I do want to thank all of the workers who have put in long hours to restore power to so many, thank you for your service! It is during times like this, that we ask, what’s our contingency plan? Sometimes plan B or C or Z are needed as life throws challenges our way.
Stay family connected:Make family connection a priority
As I was walking the fences and struggling to keep the rising water out of my muck boots, I was also very grateful for the safety of our home, critters, family and the neighbors who reached out during this time, we live in a great community!
Unknow factors are part of life’s challenges
Unknown factors are a part of life and while challenging to live, it has taught us in retrospect to be prepared to have a plan B.
So the question for today is what is your personal plan B? It could be a natural disaster like a storm or fire or a financial emergency, but it’s a great reminder for all of us to talk with our families and have an emergency plan in place.
Following are a few conversation and action tips to get you started:
Start with an emergency fund. This may look different for families depending on your needs, but the guideline is to have at least 3-6 months of your expenses set aside. That guideline is specific to losing a job, but if you can’t get to work because of a natural disaster for example you can focus on the cleanup and not be stressed that you can’t pay the bills.
Another fund might be set aside in your budget for the emergency repairs that may be needed. What’s your home owner insurance deductible? Do you have that set aside in your current budget?
Have a ‘stash’ for quick use
While many families may have planned for the fair expenses, the extra travel and food expenses might not have been included. Having a “stash” at home and accessible for quick use, might be something to consider for the future. Debt cards have made this much easier, but what happens if you can’t get to the bank, or make withdrawals?
When did you last review your homeowner’s insurance declaration page? Do you have enough coverage for your current home and belongings? What about the home inventory, what’s in the drawers, closets, attic and basement? Do you have a listing of items and approximate value of it? You might be able to video or take pictures throughout the house to help to document the items as well. Check with your insurance agent for their guidelines.
While you are checking on your homeowner’s insurance, you might also review your life insurance. Unexpected death can put loved ones into an emergency state and taking care of details might not be the top of the priority list. What about your will or trust, is it up to date with your wishes and shared with your loved ones?
An emergency kit to have at home is a good idea to have at all times. New batteries, flashlights or candles, food that doesn’t require heat for preparation and water. Don’t forget to include medicines and if you have pets be sure to include previsions for them as well.
If you had to leave your home quickly, do you have all the important papers in one place that you can grab and go? Consider putting those documents that are difficult to replace in a file or notebook that could easily go with you. What would you miss from your files if they no longer existed, and if you couldn’t communicate, who in your family is trusted with this information?
If you do electronic bill pay, is it automatic or do you have someone trusted with your log in information to make sure items are paid on time?
Have you considered a family communication plan? Where might everyone meet if there’s no cell phone service? How can you let everyone know you are ok? Once this is decided upon, it’s not a bad idea to practice with a “test” a couple of times a year. If most of your family is in one central location (within the county) can you pick someone farther away to be your meeting place?
While none of us want to think about disaster in our lives, it can happen in a moment. There are many things that we have no control over and while they could be varying in degree of severity having a plan will help relieve some of the stress of the moment. Talk about it with your family so everyone is aware of your personal “plan B”.
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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