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Jeremy Johnson

With recent windstorms hitting eastern Idaho and fires raging in neighboring states, preparing for a disaster, or cleaning one up has become a reality for many. September is National Preparedness Month sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The goal of National Preparedness Month is to help everyone in the United States prepare for any disaster. Here in Idaho, disaster and damage often come in the form of unpredictable winds, hail, or fires. In this year full of uncertainty, it’s especially important to know how to prepare and what to do if your home gets hit.

Better Business Bureau, with tips from FEMA (check out Ready.gov for more), offer you these tips on how to prepare for a disaster fully:

Get your documents in a row

Once a disaster strikes, the last thing you want to do is stress out because you can’t locate all of your personal information. Having access to private, financial, medical, insurance, and other records are crucial for starting the recovery process.

Review your existing homeowners or renter’s insurance policy for the amount, and extent of coverage, to ensure you have the required amount of coverage for hazard situations. According to FEMA, more than half of all homeowners in the United States do not carry adequate homeowners’ insurance to replace their home, and its contents should a catastrophic loss occur.

Save for an emergency

Did you know, according to the Federal Reserve, over 40% of Americans don’t have $400 in savings? As 2020 has taught many of us, it’s essential to be financially prepared for any type of disaster.

Start saving for a rainy, catastrophic day by opening an emergency savings account. Consider leaving a small amount of cash at home in a safe place.

Once it hits, beware

When disaster strikes, shady storm chasers may come knocking, trying to undercut local businesses, using high-pressure tactics offering “a screaming deal” if you hire them on the spot. Be pro-active in selecting a contractor and not re-active to their door-to-door pitches.

While most contractors abide by the law, also be careful allowing someone you do not know to inspect your roof and other areas of your house. An unethical contractor may create damage to get work. The same goes for attics, crawl spaces, ducts, and other places you cannot easily access or see for yourself.

When storms or natural disasters hit, it can be very taxing, so it’s important to arm yourself with the knowledge to get through the process of rebuilding without additional loss. For more tips on disaster preparedness or hiring after a storm, go to bbb.org or FEMA.gov.

Jeremy Johnson is the eastern Idaho marketplace manager for Better Business Bureau, serving the Northwest and Pacific. Contact her by emailing jeremy.johnson@thebbb.org.