5 Things You Should Have On Hand To Weather A Disaster

The earthquake and tsunami that have devastated much of Japan recently have emphasized the importance of disaster preparedness.  The 9.0 earthquake that rocked the Far Eastern nation and spurred the deadly tsunami waves has left thousands of people dead and far more still unaccounted for.  The subsequent nuclear power plant crisis resulting from the earthquake has threatened to displace even more.


Many people in that area of the world have learned that life as they know can change suddenly without a moment’s notice.  In extreme cases like in Japan, people may be forced to move or simply struggle to survive without any time to ready themselves beforehand.  That’s why it’s vitally important for you to be prepared before something like this happens to you.

Most people already know about what basic supplies you should have on hand in case of an emergency – water, food, batteries, flashlights, blankets, etc.  People might be a little less aware of the financial items that are just as important that you should also have on hand.  Dust off your fireproof safe (if you don’t have a fireproof safe, you can pick up a good one for around $50) and stock it up with these five financial must-haves.


In this day and age, most of us take for granted our ability to swing by an ATM or bank branch to pick up cash.  But what if it isn’t operational or, worst of all, gone altogether?  Have a stash of cash on hand to get you through a week or possibly more.

Will or Trust documents

In addition to any standard identification like a driver’s license, documents laying out any will or living trust arrangements should be kept close by too.  Trust accounts may have slightly different rules for withdrawal when compared to a standard single or joint tenant account so it pays to have the legal framework on hand to ease any potential burden.

Power Of Attorney paperwork

If you have a legal say over someone’s medical care or financial business (or vice versa), make sure you have the necessary power of attorney paperwork with you to prove that’s the case.  When quick decisions need to be made the last thing you want is for things to be held up by bureaucratic red tape while you try to verify the veracity of your status.

Credit Cards

Cash may be king depending upon the severity of the disaster but having some credit cards on hand and available to use is advisable.  You’ll want to make sure that you have a significant chunk of your credit line available so that you have funds accessible should you need them.

Account Information

You may want to keep some of your important account information on hand with you should you need it.  For example, you could very well need access to bank accounts, life insurance policies, homeowner’s insurance policies and investments while you’re displaced so have account numbers, passwords, contact people and phone numbers ready to go.  Just make sure you keep those numbers in a safe place.

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Author Info

This post was written by David Dierking. David lives outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has been working in the financial services industry for over 13 years with a background in investments, accounting, and marketing. He earned his Chartered Financial Analyst designation from the CFA Institute in 2004 and was recently published in the Milwaukee Business Journal. You can also check him out at The Ultimate Fit Challenge

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