California Wildfires – When Disaster Strikes. What are you going to do?

Monica Singhania

It was my carpool duty day today and as I was returning home after dropping off my kid to school the radio show host started talking about the devastation happening right now due to Woolsey fire in Ventura County, California. My heart went out for all those whose homes have been devastated including friends who live in the area. Few friends whom I contacted said they are all packed up and ready to go as fire is just too close and it will be only time before they get the call. I can only imagine their pain and anxiety not to mention the really bad air quality that everyone going through this is experiencing.

This incident got me thinking if something like this happens in our area and we are asked to evacuate what is it we should do:

1. Stay Calm. By being calm you will be mentally equipped to make better decisions and you will be able to do whatever is necessary to protect yourself and your loved one.

2. Immediately call your homeowner’s insurance company and let them know of your situation. The loss of use coverage or Coverage D will kick in as your home is not inhabitable anymore. Typically the loss of use covers hotel stay, meals, pet boarding, transportation, laundry, etc. However, it is a good idea to check with your insurance company about what limits apply. Save the receipts for submission later.

3. Be mentally prepared to stay out of your home for a few days or weeks as this might be a possibility. Be in touch with friends and family living nearby but outside of the affected area. As Brene Brown author of Gifts of Imperfection said: “Most of us are willing to offer help but do not want to receive help.” Be comfortable with asking and getting help in a situation like this. Have a list of contacts handy and reach them out via social media if you have access.

4. If you suspect that it might take a few weeks before you can return home, cancel your subscriptions like cable or internet. You can additionally get a PO Box for accessing your mail.

5. Check this website for things you can do to be safe when wildfire threatens

Have a plan in place

In the past one year and with the frequency of wildfires across California it is imperative and advisable that every family

  • Make a plan to deal with this emergency
  • Get organized with emergency kits
  • Document your house belongings by taking pictures
  • Have valuables and documents safely stored in a fire-proof location or in a portable safe deposit box ready to go. It is a good practice to have all your important documents filed and stored in electronic format things like passports, SSN, birth certificates, etc.

 

The fact is that disaster can strike anywhere anytime and that too without warning. All we can do is just to be prepared. My new year resolution is to be wildfire ready? What is yours?

 

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Monica Singhania

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