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In the Caribbean, it is often said that island people are laid-back and do things on island time. However, when it comes to natural disasters such as hurricanes, you need to take precautionary measures to safeguard yourself and family along with your finances and property from potential harm.

Hurricane readiness involves several factors and the following nine tips offer ways to manage your finances and property to help minimise your risks before disaster strikes.

Gather all your important documents and keep copies – You may need to have key documents on hand to aid the recovery process. Keep your financial documents, identification cards, policies, etc. safe by having them in one place where you can easily access them in waterproof, resealable plastic bags so they don’t get damaged.

Keep money on hand – If there is limited access to electricity and you are displaced or stuck in a shelter, you may need to have extra cash on hand, preferably small bills stored in your grab and go bag to ensure financial mobility during a disaster. Keep your visa and debit cards ready and protected as well by storing them in a sealable, waterproof plastic bag.

Build your emergency fund – Create an emergency fund specifically for disaster readiness where you have enough money to cover medical bills, repairs, and travel. A good way to do so is to reach out to an RBC Advisor to discuss our Personal Lending solutions.

Have an evacuation plan – Discuss with your loved ones what the protocol would be in case of a hurricane emergency. Ensure that everyone knows where to go, where the nearest shelter is, and who else they should call. Try to imagine possible scenarios such as what to do if you get separated beforehand to help decrease stress. Remember to factor in your pets as part of your plan since they will need to evacuate as well.

Have a 72-hour emergency kit or a grab and go bag – This is a kit or bag that contains what you need to survive for a few days. Items can be as basic or as expensive as you want, but you may consider including: water, non-perishable food items, essential medication, a can opener, toiletries, first aid, extra batteries, a solar charger, a whistle, matches, a lighter, extra clothes and a flashlight. During this time of COVID-19, you should also pack extra face masks, extra hand sanitiser, and other cleaning supplies. Your kit can include the gamut of survivalist items available on the market, but don’t get bogged down by all the items you think you should add. Build your supplies over time. The key is for everyone in your household to have kits that are portable and easy to carry in the event of an evacuation.

Protect your property – Board your windows and doors and bring in any outdoor furniture or items inside. Cut down trees to minimise the risk of debris during a hurricane. If you have to evacuate, turn off your gas and secure your items. Lastly, pre-fill and pre-position sandbags to try to decrease the flow of water into your home.

Take an inventory of your personal property – Keep a home inventory of your possessions to help get your insurance claims settled faster after a natural disaster. Take photos with your phone of everything you own starting from room to room and keep a running digital archive. Also, take note of the serial numbers of electronics. If you have proof of purchases and recent bills, add that to your digital record. These steps may help verify your losses for your income tax return.

Review your insurance coverage – The last thing you would want if you were affected by a hurricane is to realise that you aren’t covered by your existing insurance policy. Reread your insurance policy and review it with your agent to ensure that you will have adequate coverage which includes flooding.

Stay informed – Stay tuned to local news to get important updates from the local authorities and disaster agencies.

Hurricanes happen for a season, but hurricane preparedness lasts all year round. Stay vigilant by assessing and adjusting your emergency and financial readiness plans so that you can stay safe.