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Planning for your emergency supplies needs

Planning for your emergency needs is an ongoing process and should be incorporated into your overseas household routines.

The three basic questions to answer when setting up your emergency supplies are:

  1. Where will you store your supplies?
  2. How much water will you need?
  3. How much food will you need?

Since you don’t know when an emergency (such as an earthquake) might strike, you should put together emergency kits for your home and car. Your home kit will be more comprehensive and your car kit should be in one container and easy to take with you if you need to leave your vehicle.

For your home kit, assemble the essential food, water and dry goods supplies to provide for a period of at least three days. Keep this kit in a location that can be quickly accessed (e.g., master bedroom, storage space on the ground floor of your home or in a storage space outside of your residence but still on your property). Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept and what is in it! [click to continue…]

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High Tech Tools for an Evacuation

When you are facing an emergency evacuation from an overseas posting or a long-term expat situation, you need to transform your household into a highly-portable operation that can be transplanted on short notice. There are numerous technology tools that can help you with a rapid, but comprehensive, household transition.

When you are facing an emergency evacuation from an overseas posting or a long-term expat situation, you need to transform your household into a highly-portable operation that can be transplanted on short notice. There are numerous technology tools that can help you with a rapid, but comprehensive, household transition and the important challenges you face while dealing with an evacuation.

Stay Connected and Easy to Find

You need to stay in touch with colleagues, supervisors along with family and friends during your relocation. For government employees there are remote access tools and mobile phones that can function both overseas and in the US. For family members, you need to be a bit more creative.

Set up an email address that has a web-based interface (some free options include Google Mail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail and Zoho Mail. This will make it easy for you to check email while in transit and, if you end up in a hotel, from an internet café or business center computer.

Some Voice Over IP phone services have handsets that you can use when there is a wi-fi internet signal – typical in airports and, increasingly, in hotels and coffee shops. One example is Skype, which sells handsets that function as wireless phones and, in some cases, can be connected to a computer to make internet-based calls. Having a fixed phone number, such as with Skype or Vonage, will make it easier for people to find you and stay in touch.

Make your Data Portable

When you have to leave your residence in a hurry, if you haven’t backed-up your data, you will likely have to leave it behind. If you are evacuating due to a natural disaster, you may never see your data again. Fortunately, a little bit of planning will help you to avoid abandoning critical household records.

Be sure to back up your information regularly. Services such as Mozy (mozy.com), iDrive (idrive.com), Box.net, and Elephant Drive (elephantdrive.com) all offer off-site backup services via the internet. You can also invest in a large volume hard drive (500 GB – 1 TB) and schedule automatic weekly (or daily) backups.

Another simple solution is to scan account statements for your credit cards along with the information pages of your passports and store these images on a USB thumb drive. Be sure to keep it in a safe place! In the event of an emergency, you can grab the drive and any other portable hard drives and carry them with you as you travel.

Use Hardware You Already Own

Most households overseas have a variety of data storage tools that they can use more effectively – especially for data portability. If you own a USB thumb drive, an MP3 player (e.g., iPod) then you already have the beginnings of a portable data solution. Other hardware tools include DVD and CD burners (increasingly common items in some of the more recent computer models) and, finally, compact hard disk drives that are designed to be portable data storage solutions. Some examples include the LaCie Portable Hard Drive, Western Digital Passport portable hard drive.

Keep in touch with your community

If you are part of a formal overseas community (e.g., an embassy or a company), you will likely want (and need) to stay connected as a community even while you are in your safe-haven location. In most cases, governments and corporations have support offices that assist with organizing community functions and regular “news” updates. Howver, these might not be able to reach individuals who have chosen to wait out the crisis in a location separate from other families in your community.

If you are inclined to take a leadership role, you can set up a “do-it-yourself” community website and make it easy for friends and colleagues to stay connected during the evacuation and the weeks that follow. Examples of group collaboration service sites are Ning (ning.com), Google Sites (sites.google.com), Yahoo! Groups (groups.yahoo.com), and PBWiki (pbwiki.com).

Online References – Tech Tools and Related References

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Documents for an emergency

Documents that help you manage your home and connect you to organizations, medical services, banks and your legal identity are extremely hard to replace if destroyed. When you invest the time and resources to protect these documents, you make an almost invaluable contribution to stress management in the event of a disaster.

Your document cache should be protected against water damage, portable and crush-resistant. A hard case is generally a good starting point. There are many varieties of portable cases that are waterproof and very sturdy. However, if you are more concerned with waterproofing than with keeping things flat, consider using a dry-bag that functions as a basic duffle or as a backpack.

When you are storing your documents at home, consider placing them in a fireproof box or safe as long as the storage space is reasonably accessible. Think about the natural disaster you might be facing – for example, in an earthquake, you would need to get to the storage space and get the documents out as quickly as possible. The alternative is using an extremely durable box (such as a safe) and hope that it does not get crushed if your residence collapses. If you are living in a high-rise building and you might have to evacuate, consider making your documents secure but, more importantly, portable.

Notarized copies of documents are useful to have while residing overseas. This offers you the option of storing the originals in a safe deposit box in a bank in your home town.

Documents to include in your emergency records kit

  • Immunization records
  • Passports (along with multiple notarized copies of the information pages for each one)
  • Financial inventory (see the information below on the EFFAK)
  • Home inventory – you can improve the accuracy of this by creating an image inventory or video record of the property in your home
  • Current addresses for emergency contacts, family members, friends and colleagues – consider keeping an online address book as part of your email account or a separate contact manager (e.g., Plaxo – http://www.plaxo.com)
  • Insurance policy numbers
  • List of bank accounts numbers and contact information
  • Credit card numbers and emergency contact information
  • Financial records (Stock certificates, Bonds, Certificates of deposit)
  • Copy of your will/living trust and letter of instructions – it is a good idea to have the original document(s) stored with a legal representative or attorney in the event that the document must be used
  • Proof of ownership or lease for any property you own
  • Family records (Birth certificates, Marriage certificate, death certificates, divorce agreements, military discharge papers)

Documents that help you plan for emergencies

Aside from the documents you want to rescue, there are some key documents that can help you plan for and respond to emergencies.

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Getting started

Welcome to ReadyExpat!

We provide advice and resources for emergency planning and preparedness specifically for expatriates throughout the world. Visitors can become better informed on crisis planning resources and tips through articles on this site and through products and services that we link to.

We are just getting started so be sure to check back for udpates and new listings. One part of our plan is to develop a newsletter to assist expats in their emergency preparedness efforts. This will also make it easier for you to stay informed of new information on our site.

In the meantime, you can expect to see new links and articles that will begin helping you become better prepared during your time overseas!

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