Protect yourself and your wallet when a natural disaster strikes

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Jan 13 2020 09:24 AM

After Taal Volcano’s ash explosion Sunday, communities nearby and around the country were mobilized into action. While Taal’s escalating activity is alarming, I was also relieved to see the quick action from concerned government agencies and private companies. 

Hospitals in the vicinity began transferring procedures to ensure safety of patients, evacuation protocols were triggered, flights were redirected or cancelled, work and classes suspended, even trading at the stock exchange put on hold.

Social media is abuzz with what to do from protecting yourself to cleaning your roof. Some are helpful, while others border on the ridiculous.

If you and your family are not under immediate threat, consider taking these steps to better prepare yourself for this latest natural disaster to strike the country. 

#1 Do an asset inventory.

Check your house, car and other physical assets including furniture and appliances for damages. It was frightening to walk outside our house in Pasig City last night to see our front porch with volcanic ash! Thanks to the World Wide Web, we found helpful advice on what to do next. One comprehensive and useful site we found is the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network at www.ivhhn.org. Their page on guidelines on preparedness before, during and after an ashfall should answer most if not all your questions.

#2 Review your insurance coverage.

After the devastating floods that Typhoon Ondoy left in its wake in 2009, Filipinos realized the importance of reading the fine print when insuring their vehicles and homes. Acts of God or Acts of Nature was a clause added by almost all when they renewed their policies in the following year. In our case, we also added a clause to protect our assets in case of Strikes, Riots and Civil Commotion. With political unrest in different parts of the country, it seemed safer to do so for a small fee. Knowing the terms of your insurance coverage and contact information can help you if needed.

#3 Check your credit lines and balances.

In an emergency situation, the last thing you need is to get your access to credit cut off. It can be a handy to have a credit card you can use for hospital services or to put gas on your car or even just to stock groceries. Keep your cards accessible in case you will need to leave your home. It is also understandable if you miss to pay your dues in the middle of a crisis, but contact your bank or creditor when you can to let them know your situation. Some offer a payment holiday, allowing you several days of reprieve and hopefully interest-free and penalty-free extension so you can settle your outstanding balance when safer and more convenient for you.

#4 Have cash ready and accessible.

In this age of electronic payments, more and more consumers do not carry cash. Maybe you prefer to pay using Apps from your phone, or swiping your credit card or debit card. But in the event ATMs and banks go offline, or you experience brownouts and cannot charge your phone, it does not hurt to have some cash in your wallet. Or in your safe at home to access when needed. Be careful not to have too much – as that may pose a handling problem for you too. A good rule of thumb is to carry enough cash for 3 to 7 days’ worth of expenses.

#5 Prepare an emergency bag.

I admit the first thing I did after seeing the ash explosion is to check our emergency bags. The threat of an earthquake or volcanic eruption or tsunami has been present for a few years now, so we went out and bought hard hats, emergency blankets, first aid kits, among others. Again, you will have many resources on the Internet and the one I found useful is from www.redcross.org. Their Survival Kit supplies page is a good starting point, and then you can personalize according to your family’s needs. In the meantime, stay safe and alert!

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.