Planning for Hurricane Season
The calendar moves on relentlessly. Despite the hardships we have been facing this year as a result of the corona virus pandemic, we must now deal with the fact that hurricane season is upon us. Your hurricane preparedness plan should include not only the protection of your home and valuables, but also the protection of tax and financial records. Below are tips for individuals and businesses for preparing for any natural disaster.
- Take Advantage of Paperless Recordkeeping for Financial and Tax Records
You should already be receiving your bank and other financial statements by e-mail. If you still receive paper copies, your bank may nevertheless allow you to access these documents online. If you have not set up online access with your financial institutions you may want to do so now so that you can access the statements online if needed.
If you only have paper copies of important documents such as bank statements, tax returns, and W-2s you should scan these documents into an electronic format. If your paper documents should be lost or damaged you will be able to access your electronically stored copies.
As with any electronic medium, it is important that you take steps not only to back up the electronic documents, but also make sure they are stored in a place that is safe and one that will not be affected by the storm.
- Document your Valuables and Business Equipment
Photograph or videotape the contents of your home and business. The photos/videotape should also be backed up and stored in a place and manner that will not be affected by the disaster. This information will also assist you in making a claim with your insurance company.
The IRS has workbooks which can be used to document your valuables. You can access these workbooks by following these links:
Workbook for Individuals https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p584.pdf and
Workbook for Businesses https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p584b.pdf
- Continuity of Business Operations
The more emergency planning you do before disaster strikes, the more prepared your business will be to get back to work after disaster strikes. You should have an emergency plan in place. This plan should be reviewed annually to account for any changes that have taken place in the business and which may require a change to the preparedness plan. The following steps apply to all businesses and to all types of disasters and should be a starting point for a preparedness plan:
- Get informed about hazards and emergencies and learn what to do for specific hazards.
- Develop/update your emergency plan.
- Learn where to seek shelter from all types of hazards.
- Back up your computer data systems regularly.
- Decide how you will communicate with employees, customers and others.
- Use cell phones, walkie-talkies, or other devices that do not rely on electricity as a backup to your telecommunications system.
- Make sure you have a way of receiving weather information.
- Collect and assemble a disaster supplies kit. Include a portable generator.
- Make sure you have important phone numbers at hand, including your insurance company’s claims department.
- Identify the community warning systems and evacuation routes.
- Include required information from community and school plans.
- Practice and maintain your plan.
Let’s hope that the 2020 hurricane season is tame, but be prepared. Stay safe!