6 Tips for Emergency Prep for Military Families

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Navy Federal Credit Union. All opinions are 100% mine.

July felt a little like living in Forrest Gump: “One day it started raining, and it didn’t quit for four months. We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain, and big ol’ fat rain, rain that flew in sideways, and sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath. Shoot, it even rained at night.” It rained here in Pennsylvania for nearly a week straight–in some locales dumping more than 20 inches in a week– creating huge flooding issues that closed Hersheypark for two days, washed away roads, set cars floating down rivers, and created a nightmare for almost anyone with a basement or a backyard remotely close to a water source. It was one of those times that reminds you to take care of your stuff and have a plan. Luckily (very luckily), we didn’t sustain any damage, even though our neighbors up and down the street were pumping water from their basement for days.

Emergency preparedness takes on a whole new meaning when you're new to an area and a military family.

But luck isn’t going to cut it when it comes to emergencies and natural disasters.

1. Do recon

Military families often don’t have historic knowledge about a place they just PCSed to. If they’re not from the region, they may never have encountered particular weather patterns and natural disasters, either. Do your research and learn how to get prepared for a natural disaster and what to do in case of emergencies. For instance, if you’re living in Japan, learn to do when it comes to typhoons. California? Wildfires and earthquakes. The South? Know how to get ready for hurricanes.

2. Know what you can outsource

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, that’s okay. Military life has a lot of overwhelming moments, and for some sneaky reason, they almost always seem to happen when there’s a deployment or TAD/TDY. (Right? Right.) I think it’s always good practice to know where you can get help from when you need it. Anticipating hurricane season? There’s a cottage industry of folks who board up houses so you don’t have to. Worried about water damage because you live in a low-lying area? Do the research for someone who can clean that up before the damage happens. Have trees on your property? Find a reputable tree removal company in your area, just in case a storm takes a tree (or huge limbs) down. Make a list with numbers and email addresses of the services and folks you anticipate needing help from. That will allay your fears and worries while making clean up after an emergency or abnormal weather a lot easier.

3. Have a plan

There are so many resources that can help you planning safety in your home as well as outside of it. Making a plan, and then making sure that your family members know what the plan is (and how to follow it) is paramount in an emergency. When you create a plan, you’ll also be able to fill any preparedness holes that exist. For example, you might realize that you don’t have fire ladders easily accessible in the kids’ bedrooms or that you haven’t stockpiled the recommended amount of water (it’s one gallon per day per person, by the way).

4. Put a little aside

If you know that saving money is hard for you and your family, automatically deduct a little bit each month to a savings account especially for emergencies. You can draw on that cash if you need to pay for tree removal, quick funds for a hotel stay, or extra gas if you’re evacuating an area. Emergency preparedness takes on a whole new meaning when you're new to an area and a military family.

5. Don’t forget the basics

When you live somewhere with unfamiliar weather patterns or natural disasters, it can be easy to forget about the simplest ways to prepare. Make sure you have an emergency contact list easily available with copies for the kids, and one in each of your cars, too. Keep a stocked and in-date first aid kit on hand. It always helps to have miniature ones available in the car too, even for non-emergencies like bee stings at the ballpark and minor cuts on the playground. And you’ll want to have a stockpile of nonperishable food and water so you have supplies just in case.

6. Know what’s available

Often after a large disaster or emergency, military-affiliated organizations will have certain relief measures in place for their members. Those who have TSP accounts will sometimes have the ability to withdraw without a penalty if they meet certain criteria. The Navy-Marine Relief Society has disaster grants and funds available for people in need. Know what the organizations you belong to do and then keep your eyes open for information.

Navy Federal Credit Union offers a variety of financial products for military families (including easy ways to save money for that emergency fund)! Become a Member  for access to all of their awesome products. They’re also a wealth of knowledge when it comes to financial topics like emergency prep and others that will help to keep your family safe, sound, and financially well. Visit MakingCents for clear, step-by-step information to help you meet your financial goals.

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