If Hurricane Sandy local effects taught us anything, it’s the need to be prepared for the worst. Maybe your home is ready but, certified public accountants ask, are your finances?
PHILADELPHIA PA – Would you be able to keep your financial life in order during an emergency? Hurricane Sandy and other recent disasters underscore the importance of planning ahead. The Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) on Monday (Jan. 28, 2013) offered these tips to ensure your bases are covered if a crisis occurs.
Have Important Documents Ready
Which insurance policies will you need if you suffer damage to your home, business, or automobile, or if you or a loved one are injured? Locate these policies and keep them in a safe place. A safe deposit box would work, or you could send copies of your documents to a family member or trusted friend who lives in another location and is unlikely to experience the same natural disasters that you might.
If your documents are in electronic form, consider backing them and any other important information up to a “cloud” storage option; that should keep everything safe and easily accessible. Cloud storage – essentially large disk drives at an off-site location, accessed through a secure online system – is an increasingly popular way to save mission-critical information so it is accessible even amid disasters.
What other documents will you need? If your residence or business is damaged, an inventory of your home or office contents can help with the insurance claims process, especially for valuable items. Keep a list of key phone numbers on hand as well, like emergency services, insurance agent, and close friends and family.
Keep Cash on Hand, And Gas Up the Car
If there are power outages, stores might be unable to take credit or debit cards. Having cash will enable you to make necessary purchases. In addition, power losses can prevent gas stations from opening. That can lead to lengthy gas lines or long trips to find an operating station. Stores will quickly sell out of bread, milk, canned soups and foods, and other basic items. If you have forewarning about a disaster, don’t be caught short on the necessities.
Be Prepared to Communicate
If your family is spread across a wide range of locations, develop a communications plan in advance to share information on everyone’s status. A phone tree is one option, in which one person serves as the main contact and he or she passes on details to several people, who then each pass on details to several others.
Those with online access can also communicate through social media networks. Choose a solution that best suits your family’s needs, then consider a alternative plan in case the Internet or phone access are unavailable.
Plan to Keep Your Business Running
A communication plan is also important for businesses. Depending on the level of disruption, businesses might need to communicate with employees, vendors, investors, or other stakeholders. The communications plan should be part of an overall business continuity plan, a much broader strategy to ensure the company can be up and running as quickly as possible.
A business continuity plan should address all contingencies and include options for operating from a different location if necessary. It should also anticipate how the business would function with limited personnel, or if inventory, supplies, or other necessities are delayed or unavailable.
Planning ahead can mitigate many difficulties associated with disasters. For more information on how to prepare, find a certified public accountant in Pennsylvania at the institute’s website.