With our high stressed, faced paced existence, the last thing we want to do is think about the negative of a natural disaster. This is especially true if you live in an area where natural disasters are not that prevalent. I can tell you from first hand experience, that the time you take in preparing for natural disasters is well spent and could save your life, the lives of your family and help the repair process of healing.

The first and foremost thing you need to consider for natural disaster preparation is knowing and understanding what your home insurance covers and specifically what it will not cover. Many states that are prone to hurricanes and earthquakes require additional home owner insurance coverage. You also need to know that your standard home insurance usually does not cover flood damage. You therefore might need two additional policies. The cost of earthquake and hurricane or wind damage insurance can be higher, but, if you don't live in a flood zone, the flood insurance can be very reasonable.

Something that you may not be aware of is the attitude of insurance companies and the disaster crews they send in when a natural disaster happens. Most of us want to try to save our homes and go to extra lengths to protect them. Since we have done so, the disaster crews will put us at the top of the list. If you have not shown any effort in trying to protect you, your family and your home, you will be at the bottom of the list for assistance.

We live in Florida, and take a hurricane emergency kit very seriously. While this topic should include anyone that lives in areas that experience tornados and earthquakes, not all people prepare ahead of time. Those in tornado stricken areas should have an underground emergency safe area that is stocked with all of the necessities for at least three to four days for the people that may be trapped there. Earthquake and hurricane emergency kits should be complete. If you have camping gear, keep that as part of your emergency kit. Make sure you check for everything from dry matches and candles to cooking utensils and emergency medical items. When Hurricane Charley came through, we were out of power for an entire week. Candles were our light and fresh water was the main concern. Thankfully, I had set aside plenty of both.

Keep all of your important documents together and easily accessible. We have all of our insurance, birth, marriage and home ownership information in one place. It's in a sealed plastic container and we can grab it and take it with us. Without your information, you will be at the mercy of the insurance companies and the authorities.

Video or picture proof is your best insurance. Each year I go around the house and property and take pictures of everything. I copy these to disks and make sure that I send a copy of the disk to a family member or friend. I also have a detailed notebook with proof of any expenses of home upgrades over the last five years. Now you may think this is an extreme measure, but, if anything happened, all I have to do is submit the pictures and receipts. Most people lose out because they don't have any proof of the worth and value of their property and its contents. This leaves an open door for an insurance company to create their own value. Thats usually lower than reality.

Have a travel and communication plan. In preparing for natural disasters, we have a complete travel plan along with a main contact person. We will keep in contact with the main contact person and all other friends and family will get updates from them. This is the smartest thing to do because you don't know what type of communication methods will be down.

Whatever your natural disaster, the answer is to be prepared and check it annually. Be familiar with your local emergency shelters and if they take animals. Thankfully, many across the country now do so.

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