Contingency Planning for Natural Disasters

Guest post by Jori Hamilton

You never know when a disaster might creep up on you without warning. There are so many different kinds of disasters out there, from economic and personal struggles to the threat of terrorism or even the capacity of our own technology to be used against us.

One category of danger that is as old as time, though, is natural disasters. From floods to fires, earthquakes to tornadoes, if you are aware of potential natural disasters, it’s a great idea to have a contingency plan in place.

What Is a Contingency Plan?

A contingency plan, simply put, is a plan to safeguard you, your loved ones, and your belongings from the possibility of a future disaster. While it’s easy to buy a few gallons of water and a dozen cans of baked beans and say you’re ready for the next catastrophe to strike, the truth is, there are many different things besides a little food and water that go into a well-constructed contingency plan. 

The first thing that you want to do is identify the particular risks that you may be facing. A person living in downtown San Francisco — a city famous for its susceptibility to earthquakes — is going to have very different concerns compared to someone living in the hurricane-heavy Florida Keys. From financial concerns to where you park your car, here are a few of the most important things to consider before you’re hit with an unexpected natural disaster.

Financial Safeguards

While it’s easy to rest on the fact that you have your home insurance squared away, a typical home insurance policy does not always imply that you’re covered in the event of a natural disaster. 

For instance, if you live in an area that is considered “high risk” for a certain kind of natural disaster, you may need to get additional insurance. Those who live along the ocean or a large lake, for instance, are likely going to need to get flood insurance.

While this isn’t always the case, it’s important to do your homework and see if any natural disasters aren’t covered by ordinary insurance wherever you live. 

Business Concerns

If you own a business or work remotely from your home as a freelancer, it’s just as important to also have a business contingency plan in place. Make sure you’ve taken the time to sit down and organize exactly what crucial resources your business uses. Crucial is the keyword here. If you own a restaurant, for example, you don’t need to know where to get a new bar stool in case of an emergency. However, making sure your food is being restocked on a daily basis is key to keeping your doors open.

From manpower to supplies, utilities, and so on, make you have a contingency plan ready for how to address each of these needs if your access to resources is lost during a natural disaster.

In addition to having a plan like this in place, it is wise to make sure that you’ve covered your operation with business property insurance. A good policy can cover everything from obvious items, like your inventory and documents, all the way to personal items, income loss, and even landscaping.

Consider Your Car

While it’s easy to think about your house and personal belongings, one possession that is often overlooked in the event of a natural disaster is a vehicle — and let’s be honest: cars cost an arm and a leg these days. It’s wise to make an extra effort to take care of them. 

Often left out in the wind, rain, sleet, and snow, a car at rest can come across as indestructible. But appearances can be deceiving. When it comes to natural disasters vehicles are susceptible to flooding. If you find yourself facing an incoming flood, make sure to move your vehicle to as high a point as possible in order to avoid water damage. In addition, make sure to be extremely cautious driving through even a small flood. As little as six inches of floodwater can be enough to lose control, especially if there’s a current.


Of course, taking measures like identifying risks to your car or setting up financial security are just part of a good contingency plan. Once you’ve identified what to do, you must prioritize which ones are the most important based on the likelihood of their occurring as well as the level of damage they can incur. 

Once you’ve assessed your risks, take steps to mitigate the damage of each possibility as much as possible. Then, as a final, ongoing step, maintain your mitigating efforts. If you get insurance, don’t let it lapse. If you need to move your car to high ground before a flood, set up alerts with a weather app in order to get fair warning beforehand.

If you take the time to size up and prioritize the risks you face as a home or business owner, take steps to mitigate those risks, and then maintain those efforts, you’ll be in the best possible place to deal with a natural disaster if and when it strikes.


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