Business Columns & Blogs

Prepare your home and business for a disaster

It is nearly wildfire season in Idaho, and some experts are warning that this season could be especially significant for wildfires. While it’s important to take precautions to avoid contributing to a wildfire, it’s just as important to make sure you, your family and business are prepared for this type of natural disaster.

Should a wildfire threaten your home or business, you should have plans in place for evacuating.

Your Better Business Bureau suggests storing your documents in a safe place that is easy to access. Those documents include your Social Security card, birth certificate, passport and any other official, hard-to-replace documents.

Other documents to consider include:

• Contact information: Both your contact information and your emergency contacts’ info. This includes your nearest relatives, your will executor(s), and employers.

• Will and medical directives: Add a copy of your will/living trust and medical letter of instructions, keep the originals with your legal representative. You may want to upload a PDF file to cloud-based storage for this purpose.

• Insurance: Homeowners, auto, medical, life, disability, and other insurance agents/brokers contact info and policy numbers.

• Financial accounts: Bank, investment, and credit card/loan accounts information, including institution names, phone numbers, and account numbers.

• Health records: Immunization records, allergies, dietary restrictions, medications, medical/surgical treatments.

• Pet information: Description of each pet, vet contact information, and any important medical notes.

• Property: Car information, home purchase papers/deeds, and other home inventory items.

Familiarize yourself with your town’s emergency plans for shelter and evacuation, emergency contacts, the locations frequented by members of your household and the specific needs of household members, including animals.

BBB recommends using FEMA’s website at ready.gov to learn about the potential emergencies that could occur where you live and the appropriate ways to respond to them. When you know what to do, you can plan and prepare in advance to be ready.

Businesses should also have a plan in place should an evacuation be ordered during business hours. Make sure you practice emergency drills with employees and have processes in place to account for employees in the event of a disaster. Remember to safeguard your customers’ privacy by protecting their data. Lock up important papers or transfer them to the cloud to keep them safe and intact.

Natural disasters can bring out the best in people, as strangers reach out to help others in need. Unfortunately, a crisis also brings out people who choose to take advantage of the victims. Disaster victims should never feel forced to make a hasty decision. For reliable information, lists of BBB Accredited Businesses by industry, and BBB Business Profiles on local businesses visit bbb.org.

Veronica Craker, veronica.craker@ thebbb.org, is the content and communications director for Better Business Bureau Northwest +Pacific. To check a business or report a scam, go to bbb.org or call 208-342-4649.

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