17 Items to Gather and Tasks to Do After a Disaster

WHN TIP – Advice from Experts: Listen to this podcast for tips on dealing with the aftermath of a fire.

WHN TIP – Advice from Experts: This podcast covers water damage clean-up.

Here is a starter list of items you’ll need and tasks to do immediately and several days after a disaster.

WHN TIP – Get Coverage Details: Ask your insurance agent what will be covered and how much the coverage amount is for items purchased or companies brought in during the recovery process.

WHN STAFF TIP – Out of State Contact: Choose a person to contact if there is an emergency or disaster in your community. Why? Local phone numbers might be down or busy and you’ll need to notify others that you are okay (or need help).

Immediate Items to Gather

  1. Cash for purchases (reimbursable and non-reimbursable)
  2. Notebook/pen and envelope to track and store expenses, receipts and cash flow
  3. Tote box with folders to hold notebooks, documents and receipts for paper-trail backup. Alternatively, save it all to a flash drive or to the cloud.
  4. Medical History and Vaccinations Data Sheet for each family member
  5. Cell phone and/or tablet (with chargers!), phone card or another method of contact
  6. Clothing and personal items – Pretend you’re camping in the woods for two weeks – everyone in your family will need socks, good shoes (cover the ankles!) underwear, deodorant, meds, toothbrush/paste, short and long sleeved shirts/tops, shorts, long slacks/jeans, pajamas, hat (sun protection), pajamas … maybe diapers, formula, other items for the kids?
  7. Food – Keep receipts from grocery stores and restaurants
  8. Pets – food, meds, leash, collar with ID. (You may need to board the pet or arrange for a pet care providers)
  9. Temporary housing – if you can’t stay in your home, look into a hotel, other temporary living quarters or a friend or relative’s house

WHN STAFF TIP – Get Coverage Details: Ask your insurance agent what will be covered, how much the coverage amount is for items purchased or companies brought in during the recovery process, and if your coverage includes reimbursement for short-term needs.

Tasks to Do Within a Few Days 

  1. Ask your insurance agent for a rough timeline for the next steps.
  2. Make a list of cleaning or restoration service (clothes, house, property).
  3. Arrange for mail box rental (if your mail needs to be redirected or forwarded).
  4. Contact utility providers for your home.
  5. Contact home mortgage holder or landlord regarding the status of your home.
  6. Hire a security service (to prevent looting).
  7. Secure your home – board up broken windows and doors.
  8. Arrange for a storage rental unit for possessions or vehicles.

WHN TIP – Schedule Adjustment: Depending on the extent of damage in your area, you may need to coordinate schedules with your workplace or adjust schedules for child care, school or other care and education providers.

WHN TIP – Save Receipts: Track all expenses and keep all the receipts for insurance and tax purposes.

WHN TIP – Heading Back Home? Here’s a starter list of what to bring when you return home after a disaster.

WHN TIP – Climbing Ladders? Download the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Ladder Safety App for advice on extension and step ladder safety. The free app is available for both iOS and Android devices.