West Seattle, Washington
All month long, we’re planning a nightly spotlight on Disaster Preparedness Month, and steps you can take – not just the same old ones you’ve heard over and over again and maybe even tuned out – to be sure you have the best chance at “getting through it” should something big happen. Tonight, expert advice forwarded by the local folks behind the Emergency Communication Hubs around West Seattle – at the heart of this excellent web resource – something particularly timely if you are still working on your taxes and have some of these docs out already: The documents you need to compile and set aside ahead of time, so you wouldn’t lose precious time in recovery mode.
After a major disaster, you may need financial assistance and will want to document any property loss for insurance and income tax purposes. Having ready access to the documents necessary for completing application forms, as well as those which could be difficult to replace, will help reduce delay and frustration.
At A Minimum:
1. Gather property insurance papers (home, auto, boat, etc.) and make copies.
2. Gather health insurance papers (medical provider, dental provider, life, extended disability, etc.) and make copies.
3. Gather financial papers (bank, investment, retirement, etc.) and make copies.
4. Gather wills, powers of attorney, and estate papers and make copies.
5. Take photos or videos of all valuables as documentation for insurance claims.
• Store these copies and photos in a safe deposit box, or in a ziplock bag in your freezer (you may want to disguise these documents by putting them in a clean box like a frozen pizza box).
The latter advice is frequently offered by police, too, in case you become a theft/burglary victim. Even if you can’t do all this right now, find a few of the documents that are handy and start – get those to the safe-deposit box or freezer – add to it as you are able. Meantime, our nightly spotlights continue Saturday night; if you missed Night 1 on Thursday, it was simple advice – Know your hub, which you can do by browsing the West Seattle Be Prepared website (and joining its Facebook group too – check out the quake info posted today).
With windstorm concern stirring tonight, perfect time to kick off a series of special updates you’ll see here during April – Disaster Preparedness Month. Again, nobody’s expecting a disaster, but a little readiness never hurt anyone. First thing we want to spotlight is the easiest thing to point you to: The West Seattle Be Prepared website. It’s showcased in our right sidebar, and we talked about it during the Chile aftermath. But that’s been a while! First and foremost, this site shows you the Emergency Communication Hubs (here’s the map) – 9 places designated around the peninsula where you can go in case something disastrous shuts down all the regular lines of communication – places where you can get information and find out how to get help, places chosen in coordination with neighborhood-group leaders and volunteers who have been working for more than 2 years now on the readiness plan. (If you have checked the Hubs map before, take note there’s now a Hub in Highland Park – might be new since the last time you looked.) Then take a spin around the website in general. The “What’s New” page might be a good place to start. And join the Facebook group for West Seattle Be Prepared, while you’re at it. Coming up, some key dates to mark on your calendar for this month – including a statewide drill, neighborhood workshop, and more. Then next week, after the holiday, we’ll get down to some practical advice – and a request for you to show others what you’ve done to get ready.