KAI RYSSDAL: Well as it happens we have somebody here who can answer those questions. Neil Elmouchi is the President of Summit Consultants. He's also the author of the book The Wise Investor. Neil, thanks for coming in.
NEIL ELMOUCHI: Glad to be here.
RYSSDAL: What are some things you need to just have ready to go?
ELMOUCHI: Well for disaster preparedness, you really need to think about it in three stages: You need your immediate financial needs, then you need things that might be more intermediate and then of course long-term. But your immediate factors are come into cash.
RYSSDAL: How much cash?
ELMOUCHI: Well that's a question how many people you are talking about, is it a family? A family of four?
RYSSDAL: We're talking about a family of four in Los Angeles …
ELMOUCHI: Family of four in Los Angeles. I mean if you want to be prepared, you should be prepared for at least a week of covering your costs out of your pocket. So I mean it could be that long and you can't rely on things credit cards because communications may not be there for it, so cash is king.
RYSSDAL: Where do you keep this cash? I mean if I have let's just pick a number, $2,500 in cash sitting around the house, I don't want to have it in my little billfold thing because that's the first place the bad guys are gonna look.
ELMOUCHI: Yeah, you're absolutely right. I recommend keeping traveler's checks so that way at least you have it available but you can keep a slip available in another place, a safe deposit box, if they're ever lost you can get them replaced. Besides cash, you need to have your contact information to be able to take care of these things. If the power's not on, if the water's out, if you can't get back to your own home. It does come back to initially, where do you go, are you prepared and do you have these sort of locations or contacts set up so that you can have a readily available program to take care of your family.
RYSSDAL: Copies of credit cards, insurance cards, driver's licenses, I mean is that the list?
ELMOUCHI: Yes, actually I recommend to people at least once a year, maybe twice a year, literally just take your wallet out, and photocopy it. Take everything in there, you'd be surprised at how much stuff you have accumulated that you don't even realize, but you copy the front and back of your credit cards, your insurance cards and so forth and it gives you a quick reference that you can keep in a separate, safe location.
RYSSDAL: Run it down for me in the categories of items that we should just at the very least have a checklist of knowing where they are.
ELMOUCHI: Simple information like identification: your drivers' license, possibly a passport, marriage certificate. You should have critical information about your health on your person in case a disaster is looking and you're worried about it. In other words, what if you're allergic to certain items, medications? What if you have food allergies? How will people know this? You want to have records on your children. What about immunization records, their records for their schooling. That is information that'll be very hard to recover, later on.
RYSSDAL: Neil Elmouchi is president of Summit Financial Consultants, he's also the author of "The Wise Investor." Neil thanks for coming by the studios.
ELMOUCHI: Glad to be here. Thank you.