NEW YORK, February 25, 2008 – There is no time like the present when it comes to sitting down with your family and preparing for the day when you may be forced to evacuate your home, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
“In the event of a sudden emergency such as a fire, tornado or other disaster, you may have just minutes to gather your family and important papers and get out of your house, possibly for good,” said Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson of the I.I.I. “With preparation and practice, you stand the best chance of getting out with what you and your family need and ending up in a safe place.”
The I.I.I. suggests the following five steps to help you and your family on the road to safety:
Arrange Your Evacuation Ahead of Time
- Identify where you can go in the event of an evacuation. Try to have more than one option: the home of a friend or family member in another town, a hotel or a shelter. Keep the phone numbers and addresses of these locations handy.
- Map out your primary route and a backup route in case roads are blocked or impassable. Make sure you have a map of the area available.
- In case your family members are separated before or during the evacuation, identify a specific place to meet and ask an out-of-town friend or family member to act as a contact person.
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or TV stations for evacuation instructions. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Create a Home Inventory
Create a complete home inventory of your personal property. A home inventory will help you ensure that you have purchased enough insurance to replace your possessions. It will also speed the claims process and substantiate losses for income tax purposes.
To make creating a home inventory easier, the I.I.I. provides free, downloadable software located at KnowYourStuff.org. The Know Your Stuff software allows you to add digital photographs of your valuables and save scanned receipts. It can help you organize and list your possessions on your computer, after which you can burn the finished inventory onto a CD-ROM or use the optional secure online storage service, Vault24, accessible from the software itself. Print out and store a hard copy of your home inventory, making sure to keep a copy with your important documents and a second copy in a safe place outside your home (in a safe-deposit box, with an online storage service or with an out-of-town friend or family member).
Plan What to Take
- Medicines, prescriptions and first aid kit
- Bottled water
- Clothing and bedding (sleeping bags, pillows)
- Flashlight, battery-powered radio and extra batteries
- Special items for infants or elderly or disabled family members
- Computer hard drive or laptop
- Pet food and other items for pets (litter boxes, leashes)
- Gather Important Documents
Keep important documents in a safe place that you can access easily. In the event of an evacuation remember to take the following documents with you:
- Insurance policies
- Birth and marriage certificates
- Drivers licenses or personal identification
- Social Security cards
- Recent tax returns
- Employment information
- Wills, deeds and recent tax returns
- Stocks, bonds and other negotiable certificates
- Bank, savings and retirement account numbers
- Home inventory
- Take the Ten-Minute Challenge
To find out if you are ready, do a real-time test. Give yourself just 10 minutes to get your family and belongings into the car and on the road to safety. By planning ahead and practicing, you should be able to gather your family members and pets, along with the most important items they will need, calmly and efficiently, with a minimum of stress and confusion.
For additional information about insurance, go to the I.I.I. Web site.
For more information about planning for a disaster, go to the I.I.I.’s Disaster Insurance Information Web site.
The I.I.I. is a nonprofit, communications organization supported by the insurance industry.