From the December 2005 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

A Safe Getaway

Here are some steps that may help clients mitigate their risks and ensure a quick getaway in the event of a disaster.

o Create a file containing important personal documents and phone numbers. You should place it in a location that is secure enough not to be found by a thief or a spiteful dinner guest but accessible enough to grab on the go. The personal file should contain the following documents: insurance policies, licenses, credit cards, checks, birth and medical certificates, passports, deeds, titles, stock certificates, and family, insurance, and credit card numbers. You may also want to include important phone numbers for family contacts, your homeowners insurer, FEMA's emergency hotline, and even the Federal Deposit Insurance Company for banking questions.

o Take home inventory at least once a year. Not only will the inventory allow you to determine appropriate homeowners insurance coverage limits, it will also ease the claim process following a disaster. The inventory can be written or videotaped; some software companies are also beginning to offer home inventory software. Homeowners should also consider keeping copies of the home inventory and personal file in alternate locations to avoid loss due to a sudden catastrophe.

o Stock an evacuation kit for a quick getaway. The kit should include sufficient water, canned food, clothing, a first-aid kit, sanitary supplies, and medications and prescriptions to last until you reach safety. You should also take along a can opener, a flashlight, a radio, extra batteries, road maps, and sleeping bags.

o Prepare primary and alternate escape routes. All family members should memorize these routes to prevent confusion during potential separation.

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