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Take steps now to protect yourself financially from future natural disasters

Cookeville Tornado
Posted at 6:18 AM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 10:05:57-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A year ago, Middle Tennessee was slammed by tornadoes that left a massive trail of destruction. Now we look at what we can do now so we're ready for the next disaster.

All too often, you lose your house, and you lose a lot of what you need to quickly pick up the pieces. But identifying and preparing key documents before disaster strikes will make it easier.

The Federal Trade Commission says the best way to get started is to create a household inventory and document what you've got either with photos or video which can help if you have to file insurance claims.

"I think going room to room is probably best. You probably want to start with your valuables, you know, your jewelry, your electronics, your vehicles," recommends the FTC's Colleen Tressler.

She also suggests getting a lockable, fireproof file box.

What goes in that box?

"Copies of current prescriptions, health insurance cards or information, policy numbers for auto, flood, renters or homeowners insurance. And a list of telephone numbers or email and web address for those insurance companies," Tressler said.

You should also include contact information for family members who live outside your area, passports, retirement account information, your Social Security card, an extra set of keys for your house and vehicles, a small amount of cash, and a copy of your home inventory.

Also consider renting a safe deposit box at your bank to store important photos, videos, heirlooms, and documents like property deeds, vehicle titles, birth, death, and marriage certificates, and your will.

"These are things that you don’t want to have in your home because if your house gets flooded, if it catches on fire, if it’s destroyed by a tornado, they’re gone. They’re just gone," Tressler said.

It's easier, she said, to prepare now than try to replace after a disaster.

"It’s always good to plan ahead. No matter what. You just don’t know when an emergency is going to strike," she added.

And make sure you review your household inventory, as well as what you have in your fireproof box and safe deposit box at least once a year.

For more ways to prepare yourself financially, click here.