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BBB: Prepping for National Preparedness Month

Launched in 2004 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, September as National Preparedness Month is dedicated to encouraging the public to assess and prepare for local disaster risks and unplanned emergencies. This year, FEMA’s campaign theme is centered around “Lasting Legacies: The Life You’ve Built is Worth Protecting; Prepare for Disasters to Create a Lasting Legacy for You and Your Family.”

FEMA’s 2020 National Household Survey found that a growing number of people are investing in disaster-preparation activities. Approximately 68 percent of respondents have taken at least moderate steps toward and have set aside funds in preparation for an emergency — up 6% from the previous year.

Whether responding to a surging heat wave, volatile hurricanes or regional flooding, having a preparedness kit and emergency-response plan is the highest priority, but what about protecting your personal information and the value of your belongings?

The Better Business Bureau recommends the following tips to help minimize the negative impact that may arise from being unprepared and/or underinsured:

Know the risks for your area

Research and understand the risks in your area. Is the region you live in highly prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, etc.? Identifying those risks will help determine what you need to prepare for and the potential scope of the damage. It’ll also help you understand the type of insurance coverage you may need.

Speak with a reputable insurance agent

Start by speaking with your current homeowners’, renters’ or auto-insurance companies to find out what additional coverage you may need to add on. For example, most homeowners’ insurance policies generally do not cover flood damage, so you’ll need to purchase a flood policy separately. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners lists the types of coverages you can add to your current policy.

Research past natural disasters in your area to determine whether the families affected had the appropriate level of coverage. Ask multiple insurance agents for their take on the level of coverage they recommend and determine whether you’d like to increase your coverage. The last thing you want is to be underinsured and not have enough compensation when it comes time to clean and/or rebuild.

Consumers can look up companies on for ratings, consumer alerts, complaint trends and examples of how the business responds to their customers.

Take photos

Having pictures or videos of your car, home or business, and your valuables before possible damage can help with future insurance claims. Keep these in a separate album so they are easy to find in the event something gets damaged.

Store important documents

Keep important paperwork, such as passports, birth certificates, medical records, and deeds of ownership safe by storing them in a waterproof/fireproof safe-deposit box. You may want to store important sentimental items, like family photos, in a similar way. Keep such items in a central place where you can easily take them with you if you need to evacuate.

Back up your files

Don’t leave important data on computers in places at risk of fire or flood damage. Store them on a secure portable hard drive or in a digital cloud away from your home or business.

For more consumer tips, visit


Roseann Freitas ismarketplace manager Hawai‘i, Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific, 900 Fort Street Mall, Ste. 1310, Honolulu, HI 96813 808-260-0643,
Source: The Garden Island

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