It’s midnight, and the power is out. Imagine waking up to someone pounding on your door. There are announcements blaring throughout your neighborhood over loudspeakers telling you that you must leave immediately, and you only have 10 minutes. 

The next morning, you wake up in a shelter to the news that 117 homes in your neighborhood have been covered in lava, and you’ll never be able to go home again.

Admittedly, most of us will never experience the need to move in the middle of the night. However, there are moving lessons to be learned from an evacuee, especially with the increasing number of weather related events occurring throughout the United States.

Lesson One – Pare down to what’s important

Before lava from fissure 8 covered the Leilani Estates, many families had already made decisions about what was important and had relocated their family members, valuables and pets.

If you’re moving on your own schedule, take the time to go through your belongings to determine what’s important and what you want to move to the next place. When you’ve lived in a home for a while, we naturally accumulate a lot of stuff, but little Johnny’s popsicle stick tree ornament from kindergarten doesn’t necessarily have to make the move.

Be ruthless and take the occasion of your move to decide what’s really important.  Will you really read (or re-read) all those books on your bookshelves? Will you ever get back into some of the clothes in your closet – do you even want to? Will you finally finish that project that has been sitting incomplete in a drawer for years? If it’s not something that you would keep if you were to evacuate, let it go. If possible, donate the items or throw it out if it’s not useable.

Lesson Two – Safeguard your important memories

Being on the Big Island during the Kilauea eruption, a recent evacuee reminded me that there are some things that are irreplaceable, especially when you’re forced to move. She wishes she packed some of her kid’s photos that were scattered throughout the house when she was forced to evacuate.

Our photos capture special events and activities that hold a strong meaning to us. Consider using the time of a move to eliminate duplicate photos, bad pictures and negatives. Photo technology has advanced so that you no longer need negatives to reprint a photo. You can also consider a move as an opportunity to put your important memories on a flash drive or upload them to Google Drive to reduce the number of items you are moving.

Lesson Three – Purchase insurance

Although Hawaii is a habitable island with an active volcano, some residents had not purchased homeowner’s insurance on their homes before the eruption. Not only did they lose their homes, they were left to cover the costs of replacing their homes and its contents on their own.

Insurance is often considered a large expense in your budget and is oftentimes considered an expense that can be cut when times get tough. However, the price of insurance is a fraction of the cost to replace all or even a portion of your belongings if you have to evacuate.

With the wildfires rampant in California, volcano activity in Hawaii and tornadoes tearing through the Midwest this summer, it pays to take some time to ensure you and your family are safe and protected in the event you are forced to evacuate in the future. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional can help you access your current insurance policies to determine if you’re adequately covered.