Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the storms that hit the Midwest recently. In particular, the mile-wide tornado that tore through Linwood, KS was a sobering reminder that we’re going to be dealing with peak tornado season for at least a few more weeks, as well as ongoing concerns about flooding as our rivers continue to swell.
You know our mantra at Keen Wealth when it comes to your finances and your life: plan ahead. And in our part of the country, tornado and flood prep has to be a part of that larger picture. Take a moment to go through these important tips that will help protect you, your family, your home, and your money.
1. Call your insurance agent.
You should talk to your insurance agent annually to review your personal and property coverage. Specifically, check what types of damage your homeowner’s insurance and any policies you have on vehicles cover. Tornado and flood damage can be wide-ranging: wind, debris, hail, water. Your insurance might cover some, but not all, of these damage types. If you’re living in an area that’s high-risk for tornadoes or near a large body of water, ask your agent about what kind of supplemental casualty insurance you might want to consider so that your property is covered from every angle.
2. Know where to go.
If you’re living in a home with a below-ground level floor or basement, identify an area away from any windows, heavy furniture, and appliances where you can take cover during a tornado. Make sure your grandkids and any other regular visitors know where this safe zone is as well. If you don’t have a basement, or if a tornado hits when you’re in a public place, get to a small, centralized room or hallway without any windows on the lowest level of the building.
In the event of a flood, take early warnings seriously and follow evacuation orders to safety as soon as possible. Never drive or walk towards a flood. According to the Department of Homeland Security, just six inches of running water is enough to knock a person down. A foot of water can sweep your car away.
3. Keep reserves of food, water, and first aid.
Natural disasters often isolate folks and limit their access to necessities. Earlier this year, the team at Angel Flight Central flew several relief missions to parts of Nebraska and Iowa affected by flooding. To better prepare you and your family for these disasters, it’s a good idea to stock your safe zone with a supply of non-perishable food, bottled water, toiletries, and a good first aid kit. For an extensive list of items to have on hand, check out the official website of the Department of Homeland Security, www.ready.gov. This is a great resource for more info on safeguarding your home and family against all kinds of disasters.
4. Backup your documents to the cloud.
We’ve talked before about how important it is to file all your important documents together in one place. This includes your bank statements, vital records, identification, estate planning documents, and insurance policies. But now that online storage has become so readily available and so much easier to use, I think it’s time everyone started backing up these important documents digitally as well.
Even if you’re not tech savvy, you can use your Apple or Android phone’s camera to snap a quick picture that, at the very least, will help authorities locate any lost records. In most cases, those pictures are backed up automatically to an online account you can access when needed.
If you need some extra help with this, ask one of your relatives or the person you’ve chosen as the executor of your estate to back up these documents up for you. Logging into your cloud account in an emergency may very well be easier than trying to locate an old filing cabinet after a disaster occurs.
5. If you want to help, send cash.
Mailing toiletries and food sounds like a good way to help people affected by a tornado or flooding. But things in boxes need to be packed, shipped, unpacked, and distributed. All that costs fuel, manpower, and time.
Reputable charitable organizations like the Red Cross already have these pipelines in place, and by the time the dust settles, they’re already on the ground getting folks what they need. The most effective aid you can give is a monetary donation that keeps their gears greased.
6. Check your “emergency buckets.”
Recovering from a tornado or flood can be a challenge for retirees. In many cases, home repair is going to involve significant out-of-pocket expenses no matter how good your insurance is.
At Keen Wealth, part of our financial planning strategy is to set aside some of your assets into “emergency buckets.” For most folks, those buckets are meant to help maintain consistent spending and withdrawal levels during market volatility. But with a little forethought and the right planning, we can also reserve cash to help with things like major health care expenses and emergency home repairs.
When disaster strikes in your neck of the woods, it shatters the illusion that these things only happen to people far away and on the news. Living in Kansas and Missouri means living with the reality of tornadoes and flooding. Once you’ve taken the necessary precautions around your home, call up my team at Keen Wealth to discuss how we can help to protect your nest egg as well.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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