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Weathering the storm

Posted July 10, 2013 in Advice Column, Greene County

The last few years have brought record destruction from natural disasters. While disasters are tragic and unavoidable, there is value in being prepared for the challenges Mother Nature throws our way.

Technology can help you prepare for the unknown and get back on your feet more quickly. Whether it’s building an emergency plan or securing your important documents, a little planning can make it easier to recover from a disaster.

According to Microsoft’s Disaster Response Program: “The best way to help you and your family after a disaster is to build an emergency plan today. As part of your plan, technology can help you connect with loved ones, access critical information and preserve cherished memories after a disaster strikes.”

The following are recommendations for quick recovery:

•    Create an emergency plan. The first step is to create a plan for you and your family, such as emergency contacts, planned meeting locations and personal health details that include allergies and medications the for entire family. Go to

•    Make your plan accessible. Just as important as creating the plan is accessing it during a disaster. Save your plan to a cloud drive, like SkyDrive (, so you can get to your plan easily via computer smartphone, even when Internet connectivity fails.

•    Keep important documents safe. Scan your important documents — insurance information, birth certificates, passports, medical records and other essential documents and organize them in a digital notebook for easy access.

•    Build a communication plan. The ability to connect with friends/family during a natural disaster is critical to ensuring everyone is safe or if someone needs help. It is also important to share your family emergency plan with trusted friends or relatives. Keep contacts up to date on your computer or smartphone to provide as many points of contact as possible when cellphone and Internet access is inconsistent.

•    Construct a disaster preparedness kit. While technology can help you get through and recover from a disaster, you can’t forget the basics. Experts recommend having enough food and water to last 72 hours, as well as other essential supplies such as a first aid kit, flashlight and battery-operated radio. Check with your state’s emergency preparedness office for a checklist to ensure you have all the right items, and keep track of when items need to be replaced.

While no one can anticipate the next tornado, earthquake or super storm, a little planning and a little technology can make a big difference.

Information provided by Jill VonStein, MacDonald Insurance, 110 E. State St., Jefferson, 515-386-8185.

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