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Northern California’s Wildfires Hit Home for Lifeguard Wealth Thumbnail

Northern California’s Wildfires Hit Home for Lifeguard Wealth

A personal response from Managing Director Joe Delaney

In the wake of hurricane Harvey causing massive flooding in Houston; Irma decimating the U.S. Virgin Islands and most of the state of Florida; and Maria devastating Puerto Rico, we were working on putting together a response that would offer solidarity with the survivors of these natural disasters.

On Monday, October 9th, 2017 the response became personal for us when wildfires took the homes – but thank God, not the lives – of members of my immediate family.

As reported by CNNat the time of this writing (October 13th), fires ignited by an unknown cause and driven by dry air combined with high winds have engulfed much of the Sonoma and Napa Valley region and are still burning. Firefighters have been working around the clock to drive the fires away from populated areas. Despite their best efforts, over 191,000 acres have burned, nearly 6,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed and at least 31 people have died with hundreds more missing. This is far from over and sadly, these numbers will likely have increased by the time you’re reading this.

Over 50,000 people have been evacuated. Among them are my mother, whose retirement home was lost after we got her to safety, and my brother, who lost his house as well. We are thankful they made it out unharmed and were able to calm their nerves with a glass of wine at our family table in Novato the night of the 9th.

These are the experiences that bring everything in your life into perspective. Natural disasters, unpredictable as they are, remind me of what is most precious. It’s certainly not money. Financial wealth itself is meaningless unless it represents something more important. In my case, my family immediately springs to mind.

While we normally fill this blog with advice on how to increase, protect or manage your wealth, this time we’re going to go a bit deeper and point out what you can do to protect what matters most before disaster strikes. The following information is based on preparedness tips from the American Red Cross (except for #4, which I added).

  1. Get a kit (mobile and home).

Keep emergency supplies both in your vehicles and at home at all times, including at least 3 days’ worth of water and non-perishables at home. Among those items are things that just make sense in the event of a breakdown on the road: jumper cables, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, tools, blankets and a few days’ worth of food and water. Here’s a full list.

  1. Make a family plan.

We are talking as an extended family about just exactly what we’re going to do if and when wildfires and major earthquakes threaten us here. The danger has never been more relevant. The type of disaster likely to strike where you live will vary, but in any case you can make emergency plan decisions now. Decide who is responsible for calling or checking on whom, what your options for transportation are and routes to take. Know what to take and what not to take when you have a short amount of time to evacuate. My brother had an hour to evacuate but laments he took what now feel like the wrong things while leaving behind some things that seem obviously more important to him with hindsight.

  1. Be informed.

As a lifeguard, I got used to keeping up my CPR certification. Today I keep it current so that whether I’m climbing, biking on a trail, or just on my daily commute and I encounter someone in trouble, I can help. If not you, make sure someone in your family and workplace is certified. Also, don’t rely on cell phones and internet as sources of information amid a natural disaster that could wipe out infrastructure. Have multiple information sources, including battery-powered radios for not just your vehicle, but home and work.

  1. Review your personal lines insurance coverage annually.

One of our primary focuses for new clients is to review your personal lines insurance coverages. We look to verify the insurance is adequate and complete. Often, we find clients have not kept their insurance up to date with rising construction costs. They also are missing certain important coverages like uninsured motorist, umbrella and earthquake coverage.

I named this firm Lifeguard Wealth because it was always meant to be about looking out for more than your money. I want to help you prepare for the curveballs life can throw at you, whether that’s a protracted dip in the markets or wildfires consuming your hometown.

Please don’t hesitate to ask me about anything that has to do with the subject I love most: how to keep your loved ones safe and financially secure.

Here are a few more disaster preparedness resources:


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The opinions expressed by myself and other featured authors are their own and may not accurately reflect those of Lifeguard Wealth. This article is for general information only and is not intended to serve as specific financial, accounting or tax advice.

© 2018, Lifeguard Wealth