Prepare Financially for Tornado Season; Illinois CPA Society Provides Steps to Take Before an Emergency Strikes

Protect documents from TornadosIt’s tornado season and as the recent outbreak of more than 60 tornadoes in the Southeast U.S. has shown us, in a matter of seconds your world can change dramatically.

Beyond the physical and emotional damage, tornadoes and other disasters can have a devastating effect on your finances. The Illinois CPA Society recommends being as financially prepared as possible when disaster strikes and provides these steps to take in advance of an emergency:

Inventory your personal possessions. Take pictures, make a video, create a photo catalog or just make an extensive list of your household possessions to be able to document what you own for insurance and tax purposes.

Keep essentials handy in one place. Designate one spot in your home where you can quickly find your driver’s license, automated teller machine cards, a credit card and a debit card.

Put together an evacuation box.

In a lockable, durable box place the following:

– A small amount of traveler’s checks or cash
– A portable back-up of your computer hard drive, including financial
software files
– Copies of your auto, flood, renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policies
(or at least policy numbers)
– Health, dental or prescription insurance cards or written information
about insurance for your entire family and pets
– Copies of important prescriptions for your entire family, including
– A list of the numbers and contact information for bank accounts,
loans, credit cards, driver’s licenses, investment accounts and Social
Security cards.

The copies of the contents of this box should also be in a safe deposit box at another location. Let a close relative or friend know where it can be found. Also have copies of, or a flash drive back-up for, irreplaceable personal photographs, important documents (items like birth certificates, medical records or deeds) and prior year tax returns. Basically, whatever method you choose, have some record of all personal and financial information, including IDs and passwords for online accounts.

Establish an emergency fund. Have about two weeks of living expenses on hand in cash in case ATMs aren’t working and six to twelve months of expenses in checking or money market accounts.

Check your insurance coverage. Review your policy every year, know if it covers tornados, and address any shortfalls. Check to see if the coverage is still sufficient and covers the current costs of any construction. Be sure you understand the exact coverage; does it cover necessary repairs and the cost of rebuilding? If the damage is so severe you can’t live in your home, will it also provide living expenses until you can move back in?

Particularly if you have a significant amount of property, crops or a small business, it’s wise to be well-prepared for a disaster. A CPA can help to get your financial life in order and work with you on a comprehensive plan for emergencies or a recovery plan for the unexpected financial impacts of a crisis. If you need a CPA, the Illinois CPA Society site,, has a “Find a CPA” directory.

More information on disaster planning and recovery can also be found in the consumer section of the CPA Society’s site. For general information about disaster preparation visit, the site of the Ready Campaign of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

About the Illinois CPA Society

The Illinois CPA Society, founded in 1903, is the fifth largest state CPA society in the nation, with more than 24,000 members. It is the premier professional organization that represents CPAs in Illinois. During its over 100 years of existence, the Society has advanced the highest ethical and financial standards of the profession, and has been a leader in educating the public on financial issues.

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