(BPT) - Wildfires and other disasters can be challenging because you rarely get enough warning to develop a plan to protect your family and minimize property damage, much less execute that plan. Thinking ahead can make all the difference - increasing your family's personal protection and minimizing property damage and financial impact.
Four steps that can help:
- Prepare your family, whether you are at home or traveling:
- Establish a family communication and evacuation plan that includes a remote meeting place in case you're separated.
- Stock an emergency kit with essentials and must-haves.
- Sign up your primary phone for Reverse 911 notifications so you can receive up-to-the-minute catastrophe bulletins and instructions. Contact your local police or fire department to inquire whether the service is available in your area.
- Protect your finances:
- Review your insurance policies annually (or more frequently when major life changes occur) to ensure you have the right type and amount of coverage.
- Establish an emergency fund. Try for three to six months of living expenses, if possible.
- Store important documents on a secure Internet site or in a safe-deposit box that requires an ID and key.
- Ready your home:
- Create a fire-free zone by trimming branches near the structure. Also clear leaves, debris and dead trees, and keep your grass mowed.
- Properly store flammable materials and fuels.
- Access community help:
- Join or form a Firewise Community Program in your neighborhood.
- Get involved in community wildfire mitigation projects.
For more information on preparing for wildfires, visit USAA.com/WildfireHelp.