Your Money: Are you ready for The Big One?
While I’m not a weather expert, I’m going to go out on a limb and say this summer is shaping up to be one of the busiest we’ve seen for forest fires. All my respect goes out to those on the front lines and behind the scenes. For those of us not involved in fighting the fires, we can still do a small bit of our part and be ready for a quick evacuation that could save lives, save memories and keep everyone safe.I wrote an article last year around the same time, and had a few pieces of advice that bear repeating. The first steps you should take for your financial evacuation plan are to photocopy the contents of your wallet and send to someone out of state, backup your company using an online service such as Mozy or Carbonite, and keep your most important financial records in one easy-to-reach location, preferably in a fireproof safe, along with a tote bag so you can easily grab them and run out the door. I’ve given this topic much thought over these past few weeks, and want to expand on some other steps you can take to keep your family and your finances safe. For my household, we are putting together a list of steps that we will take if we need to evacuate, and we’ll post that list where everyone can see it. It will detail the steps we should take to evacuate in priority order. So, if we only have 5 minutes, we’ll grab the pets and the emergency documents. If we have 30 minutes, we can work further down the list to heirlooms, photos, emergency supplies, etc. I also keep a 72-hour emergency kit in my car, so that if I’m away from home it’s with me, and if I had to take off in a hurry, it would already be there.Another suggestion is to have a buddy system. If you have a mixed household, such as a roommate or tenant, and if you have neighbors, perhaps you want to share your plans in advance and give them a garage code or spare key so they have access to your home. You could walk them through your list and show them where you keep animal carriers, heirlooms, etc. That way, if you aren’t home when a fire breaks out, you could call them and ask for help. Instead of walking them through where your items are, they would already be prepared and could quickly run through your home and grab what you need.This fire season is another good reminder to keep your homeowners or renters insurance up to date. Have you increased your limits as you’ve acquired valuable property over the years? Have you videotaped your home so that you could more easily list your contents in the event of a loss? No one enjoys these tasks, and I’m guilty of procrastinating them myself, but if you take the time to do it now while disasters are forefront on our minds, you’ll have no regrets later.I hope everyone stays safe this summer, but if the big one does happen, let’s all take the steps ahead of time so we are not caught off-guard. Michele Knight, owner of Knight Accounting & Technology, is a CPA and QuickBooks ProAdvisor based in Dillon. For more info and to contact her, visit http://www.cpamichele.com.
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