Major Emergency Preparedness – 5 Important Questions

Do you remember where you were when we had the earthquake?  I sure do!  I was sitting in my recliner watching television instead of working like I should have been doing and my two dogs were laid out on the sofa sound asleep.  At first I felt a little rumble, then my recliner started shaking and so did the pictures on my wall.  Then my dogs jumped up looking confused and unsure what to do.  I was not sure what to do either because it never occurred to me that we would have an earthquake!  I immediately yelled for the dogs to follow me outside so I could check and see if something was going on down the street, was my house falling into a sinkhole or had the train derailed close to my house.

When I got outside, got the dogs calmed down and I decided my house was not falling into a sinkhole, I came back inside. A few minutes later I received a text message from one of my friends telling me we had an earthquake.   I was shocked and wanted more information but to my surprise, my cell phone would not let me call out!  I could not get in touch with my husband who was working about 45 minutes away.

Over the next couple of days I heard a lot of people talking about how their phones would not let them get in contact with others.  I would ask them, “Do you and your friends/family have a plan in case it is a major emergency?”  The answer was always “no”.

There are 5 important questions to ask yourself to let you know if you and your family are prepared for a major emergency and 5 questions if you own a business:


1) Does your family know where to meet in case you can not meet at your home and are unable to contact each other?

2) Do you have a family plan of action?  Do the kids know it and understand it?

3) Do you know what you have and can you prove it? (see article below).

4) Do you have copies of important papers located somewhere other than your home?

5) Do you have a survival kit in you vehicle and at your home?



1) Do you have off-site back-ups for your computer information?

2) Does your family or staff know what your wishes are and what to do if you are temporarily unable to communicate with them due to an accident such as how long to keep the business running or when and how to close it?

3) Do you have in writing all of the clubs and organizations you/your business belongs to so that the person left in charge can inform them of your status?

4) Do you have it in writing how you plan to keep your business running during a natural disaster and does you staff know it?

5) People do not like to think about this but they need to: Who has the authority to make your business decisions, write the checks, pay bills or knows what your wishes are concerning closing the business if you can not communicate?

I was recently at a business meeting and the guest speaker was Curtis Steele of TLC Insurance, located in Harrisonburg, VA.  His presentation was about being prepared for an emergency or disaster.  It was such a good presentation that I asked him to write an article to use on this website to teach others the importance of being prepared.  Below is the article he sent.

“Do You Know What You Own?

Do you know what you possess?  For most individuals, after your home, personal property is probably the next highest valued asset you own.  Think about this for a moment; I personally have ten pair of shoes.  Let’s say on average they cost $50.  Alone, that is $500 worth of shoes.  Now, what about your jeans, shorts, shirts, etc?  That’s just the items in your dresser and closet.  Then it is on to the kitchen, living room, dining room and the list goes on.  Can you see where I am going with this?  The amount of money you have spent accumulating personal items can be staggering when added up.

So, what happens in the event of a total loss and you’re asked by the insurance company to provide an inventory of your possessions?  Can you accurately account for all items?  The truthful answer for most of us is no.

There are a couple of different ways to inventory your personal property but the one I like most and feel is the easiest is video.  Simply go room by room and video everything in the room.  Be sure to verbally describe the contents.  Include as much detail as possible; original cost, date purchased, any repairs done and cost of repair.  If applicable, provide a make, model and serial number.  Keep in mind that homeowners policies do carry limits on some items like antiques, art, guns, jewelry and collectables so it vitally important to know that limit and insure that property appropriately.  Add a “floater” or “schedule” those items on your homeowners policy.

Now that you have inventoried your personal property be sure to keep a copy at a separate location from your home.  Remember, we’re talking about a total loss; if the only copy you have is at your home you have lost it too.  I suggest a close relative or friend living nearby or even a safe deposit box.

You have just lost everything; you’re drained mentally and physically.  Life is extremely difficult at the moment, are you going to be in the right state of mind to think of all your possessions and come up with a value?  It’s hard enough to do before a loss; think of how it would be after a loss.  Be proactive and inventory your home.  When your life has just been turned upside down it will be one less thing to worry about.”

To get more insurance information about your home or business, you can contact Curtis Steele at 540-434-2398 or email or contact your own insurance agent but GET PREPARED AND PLAN!



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