How prepared are you for disaster?
October 6, 2006
Almost a week has passed since typhoon Milenyo (international codename: Xangsane) lashed at Metro Manila and nearby cities and provinces. For many city dwellers, life is back to normal and only dead trees and bare billboards seem to remind them of the storm's fury.
But there are hidden, more dreadful reminders especially for those whose properties have been destroyed or who are left behind by casualties of Milenyo.
As the cliche goes, it wasn't raining when Noah built the ark. Disaster-proofing is most effective when its done while the sun is shining. To be ready for any calamity, experts point to five must-do items that anyone can do — now.
Get insurance. The first line of defense is to insure life, health and property, including cars, farms, fishpen and other business properties. This may be an added cost, sure, but it's cheaper than buying another home or car.
In Sorsogon province, south of Manila, damages from Milenyo has been estimated to reach more than P2 billion. Imagine how much easier it would be to recover from such a crisis if houses, farms, schools and other properties were insured.
Of course, insurance cannot bring back life, but it can make someone's passing more bearable for those who have been left behind. Protect your biggest investment by getting sufficient insurance coverage for them.
Back-up cash. When news that a super typhoon will hit Metro Manila, financial planner Michaes Dumlao and his wife hit the streets in search of the nearest automated teller machine.
“We withdrew enough cash for emergencies because we knew there will be long lines after the storm. Worse, there will definitely be power outages and the banks may be offline,” Dumlao says.
It takes months of preparation to be able to withdraw cash before a calamity. An emergency savings plan should already be in place months before, where families save at least three months of their monthly expenses in an easily accessible bank account.
Disaster-proof your home. We are not just talking of roofs, windows and doors. Prepare emergency power supplies like rechargeable electric fans and lighting equipment, and unplug appliances that can be fried by power surges like air conditioners, television sets and refrigerators. Forgetting to unplug appliances is one of the most expensive mistakes that people make.
Documents to-go. It's the littlest things that make the biggest hassles sometimes. Get your important documents (birth certificates and other identification documents, insurance and pre-need papers, titles to properties and vehicles, mortgage and other loan information, investment records, credit card statements, employer benefit records, income tax statements, wills etc.) into a clearbook ready to grab in case of emergency.
Business owners, especially, cannot afford to be complacent with record keeping, especially if losing business documents will cause you to pay more in taxes, and other expenses.
If you are a pack rat and still have your 1996 credit card statement lying somewhere in the house, taming the paper tiger may seem like an awesome task. Remember that this works most when you do it way before disaster strikes, like now.
Supplies to-go. Angelene Tobias, 17, tells of a Monday evening last year where her father announced that each member of the family will gather together supplies for their own 72-hour kit — a bag that will contain food, medicine, identification documents, water, clothes and other supplies that will last a person for 72 hours.
In extreme cases, help from rescue teams come only after 72 hours, Tobias explains. Tobias' family heard of the kit in church, where copies of suggested contents of the kit were being given to people interested in being prepared for any calamity.
In the US, 72-hour kits are sold commercially and are quite expensive as they include light cooking equipment and waterproof backpacks. Filipinos can make their own. Gather your family for one night to assemble their own 72-hour kit, and drill children and adults what to do in an emergency like an earthquake or storms.
Dumlao adds to make sure you get in touch with friends who can help during emergencies like friends in the retail business who may have access to water and rice supplies. Put important contact numbers in a small card and include these emergency communications plan in 72-hour kits for each member of the family.
"We need that here," Dumlao says.
- By Salve Duplito, from http://business.inq7.net/money/.
[tags]disaster management, 72-hour kit, disaster recovery, financial planning, financial plan, financial freedom, inquirer, philippine daily inquirer, personal finance[/tags]