Get Organized For A Disaster

Make Sure You're Prepared

by Judith Kohlberg

Mother Nature is unpredictable. But what is predictable is that there will surely be more natural disasters. Man-made disasters such as chemical spills and nuclear power plant accidents, are a sure bet. The unknown is an essential part of terrorism. The unknown is what makes terrorism so terrorizing. Yet, terrorism, like natural disasters and man-made disasters is an event that, unfortunately, is likely to happen again.

You can interpret the inevitability of disasters as "gloom and doom" and leave your fate to chance. Or you can decide that because disasters are inevitable, PREPARING for them makes perfect sense.

 Here are some preparation and organization tips you can use now that will prepare you for disasters.

Plan and practice an escape route and an alternative escape route from your home. Install smoke detectors, heat detectors, and fire extinguishers -- and know how to turn off your water, electricity, and gas. Take a FIRST AID course. And determine an out of state CONTACT that can be a communication point if local communications are inoperable.

Establish an off-premises safe deposit box to contain wills, living wills, power of attorney, appraisals, marriage and divorce documents, certified birth certificate, and trust records. Upgrade the replacement cost clauses of your homeowner's policy to make sure your total property worth is covered.

Organize a DOCUMENT grab-and-go bag to verify or re-establish your identity and credit, expedite filing insurance claims, and notify institutions about your disastrous situation. A Pendaflex expanding Document file will do nicely. Include:

*copy of your driver's license
*copy of social security card
*deeds, titles, and mortgage notes
*family medical records
*list of vital contact information (employer, bank, insurance company, utility companies)
*front and back of each credit card

Decide in advance one car's worth of things you would take with you if you needed to evacuate your home with just one day's notice. Organize these disaster PROVISIONS in a centralized place:
*first aid kit
*extra clothing and footwear
*flashlights and batteries
*water and non-perishable food for 3 days
*a battery-operated radio
*landline telephone

Go to for more disaster preparedness advice.

Judith Kolberg is the author of Organize for Disaster : Prepare Your Family and Your Home for Any Natural or Unnatural Disaster, available at or She owns FileHeads Professional Organizers in Atlanta, GA.