About the author: Lamar Watson, CFP®, is a Fee-Only Financial Advisor in the Washington, D.C., area who works with clients virtually across the country. Dream Financial Planning is a Fiduciary Financial Planning firm specifically designed to help individuals in their 30s and 40s take control of their finances and fulfill their dreams. Feel free to schedule a Free Consultation to learn how we use the DREAM Financial Planning Process ™ to help our clients achieve their goals.
September is National Preparedness Month, a reminder to individuals and families to take proactive steps in preparing for the unthinkable.
When a natural disaster strikes or when we are faced with unforeseen circumstances, having a preparedness plan can make an enormous difference to the outcome. In this blog, we explore the significance of National Preparedness Month and provide practical tips to help you and your loved ones be better prepared for any emergency that might arise.
The Importance of National Preparedness Month
National Preparedness Month was established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and aims to promote disaster readiness among communities across the USA.1 This annual campaign promotes proactive planning, education, and communication to enhance resilience during emergencies.
If you wish to participate in National Preparedness Month, here are a few tips to keep yourself and your family safe in the case of an emergency.
Assess Your Risk
The first step in any emergency preparedness plan involves understanding the potential risks and hazards that exist in your region. Depending on where you live, you might be at greater risk of experiencing hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, or extreme weather events. Conduct a thorough risk assessment for your area and take note of the types of disasters that could affect you.
Create a Family Emergency Plan
Developing a comprehensive family emergency plan is essential to ensuring everyone’s safety. Make time to sit down with your family members and discuss various scenarios that may occur. Outline the necessary steps to take in each case.
Some key components to include in your emergency plan are:
Establish an out-of-area contact person that everyone can contact if local communication lines are down or overloaded. Ensure every family member knows how to reach this contact and agrees on a designated meeting point in the event that you must evacuate.
Identify primary and secondary evacuation routes from your home and neighborhood. Practice these routes with your family to familiarize everyone with the process.
An Emergency Kit
Prepare a well-stocked emergency kit that contains essentials, such as non-perishable food, water, first aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, blankets, and important documents. Customize the kit to cater to the specific needs of each family member. For example, specific medications and/or baby supplies may need to be included. Ready.gov has a comprehensive list of things to include in your emergency kit.2
A Pet Care Plan
If you have pets, make arrangements for their safety too. Include food and water for your pets, as well as their medication and necessary documents, in your emergency kit. Identify pet-friendly emergency shelters or boarding facilities in your area.3
Any Special Considerations
Be sure to consider any special needs or accommodations that your family members may have, such as individuals who are elderly or disabled. Ensure that your plan adequately addresses their requirements.
Keeping yourself informed about potential disasters is crucial. Register for local alerts and warnings through government agencies or reliable apps. Stay updated on weather forecasts and emergency information, especially during stormy seasons. Social media and community apps can also be valuable sources of real-time information.
Practice Your Emergency Plan
A plan is only effective if everyone knows what to do. Schedule periodic emergency drills with your family to reinforce everyone’s knowledge of the plan and to keep everyone well-versed in its implementation. Remember to update the plan as needed, particularly when changes in family dynamics and health conditions arise or when there is new information related to disaster preparedness.
National Preparedness Month is an important reminder that being prepared for emergencies is not just a choice but a responsibility. By taking proactive measures and engaging in thoughtful planning, you can significantly increase the chances of safeguarding your family’s well-being during unexpected situations.
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Wealth Management - Combines ongoing financial planning and investment management. The financial planning fee is waived if we manage at least $500,000 in investments for you. Tax Preparation will be included.
Ongoing Financial Planning - Our most popular program now includes tax prep. This is a good fit if you have several goals and want the option to manage your investments. We'll cover everything from spending, insurance, taxes, investments, retirement planning, and estate planning, just to name a few. Our goal is to give you and your family an easy-to-understand comprehensive plan to provide you with confidence you're making the right financial decisions.
One-Time Financial Plan With Ongoing Support - An accelerated version of the service above with additional support for one year after your start date. This service requires prepayment for the year and is offered at a significant discount from the annual pricing for ongoing planning.
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Revocable Living Trust-Based Estate Plan
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Will-Based Estate Plan
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Tax preparation is now part of the ongoing financial planning program. This will be in addition to the Tax Report we already generate for clients and our work with the IRS Withholding Calculator to help prevent our clients from getting a surprise tax bill.
Three-Hour Ask Me Anything - This is a good fit if you have 2-3 goals you want help with. These three one-hour meetings need to be completed within three months. The fee for this service is $2,000.
Financial Coaching - Our financial coaching program starts at $99/month. This is ideal for someone who is looking to simplify and automate their finances. We'll also serve as an accountability partner and help you overcome obstacles that may be stopping you from accomplishing your goals. You can learn more about our coaching program here. If you think this program might be a good fit for you, schedule a 15-Minute Demo.
Paying for College
This service is an ideal fit for parents of high school juniors and seniors with a standardized test score (ACT/SAT) and a list of colleges they're considering. This is included as part of ongoing financial planning or as a stand-alone package. This service includes:
- A college affordability assessment
- How Much Colleges Think You Can Afford (EFC)
- If You Qualify for Need-based Grants
- If You Qualify for Merit-based Scholarships
- Help you search for scholarships
- 1 Year Out of Pocket Cost (For Each College)
- 4 Year Out of Pocket Cost (For Each College)
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