The Probability of a Risk Part One

September 1, 2015 4:39 pm

I have a friend who just bought a house on the coast of Florida. He was telling me how he’s on a “ridge” and unlike most residents around him, he is not required by his mortgage company to have flood insurance. Rates are high, so he’s happy not have that bill. I wondered who decides this risk? And how do they decide?

The “who” in this scenario is FEMA – the Federal Emergency Management Agency. We’ll talk more about them in a later blog.

The “how” is more complicated. With disaster planning and emergency management, it’s a matter of evaluating risk and probability. Let’s exam these concepts a little closer.

Risk defines risk as the “exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance.”


The same website defines probability (in reference to statistics) as “the relative possibility that an event will occur, as expressed by the ratio of the number of actual occurrences to the total number of possible occurrences.”

How should you plan for a disaster? How do government agencies determine emergency management? Risks by nature are negative, but to what extent? The probability of the risk may be low, but the impact of the risk, should it occur, might be great. For example, the probability of my friend’s house actually flooding might be low, but what would be the subsequent impact if it did flood? Would he lose his house, his valuables, his sentimental possessions? Would any lives be lost? Would he be able to recover after a flood if he doesn’t have insurance to rely on?

In this case, FEMA has determined through their flood zone maps that the risk and probability makes it unnecessary to require him to have flood insurance. He can determine himself if he wants to go with that recommendation or not. Read on to our next post for another example of risk verses probability.

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What’s in Your Wallet? – Technology

August 31, 2015 1:00 pm

We’ve been discussing what you need on hand in case of an emergency. Now, let’s talk about how to accomplish this in the age of technology.

Fire Proof Safe

A fire proof safe is an old stand-by. A great place to keep cash and important documents. You should have this in an easily accessible place so you can grab it fast if you’re evacuated. But if you are unable to grab it than at least you know your things inside of the safe will be secure when you do get to it. On their website, Sentry Safe says their products can withstand temperatures ranging from 1,150° F to 1,850° F.

Flash Drives

Many of us have escaped from the overwhelming world of paper and have much of what we need in digital form. This makes it easier for us to take with us things we need and some of the things we want. Consider getting a flash drive for your virtual documents. If you are putting in passwords, account numbers or other sensitive material, you should get a flash drive that is password protected. If you have a lot of information, go for an external drive. You can get one big enough to fit not only your important paperwork, but also pictures or music that have sentimental value.


Many of us already have our stuff stored in a “cloud” or use a program like Dropbox. Just remember how to access it. You’ll need websites, passwords and of course, a tool to access them and you might want to rethink keeping sensitive information saved this way.

Virtual Safety Deposit Boxes

Something that I discovered writing these blogs is virtual safety deposit boxes. In a previous blog, we talked about how you shouldn’t count on having everything you need in your bank’s safety deposit box – the reason being is that your bank might have damage and be unavailable after a disaster. Well, what about virtual safety deposit boxes? According to David P. McGuinn, President of Safe Deposit Specialists, VSDBs are not a new idea but are gaining in popularity. “VSDB is a file storage solution for keeping important digital documents “bank-vault” safe, while providing secure online access and storage protection, separate from a personal computer,” he writes.

Find out if you bank has this option. And remember, it’s a good idea every few months to check and see what’s in your wallet!

Safe in Cyberspace – Virtual Safe Deposit Boxes Come of Age

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What’s in Your Wallet? – Personal Paperwork

August 24, 2015 1:01 pm

The last few blogs we talked about the importance of having cash on hand and a home inventory – both things necessary for dealing with the aftermath of a disaster such as a flood or earthquake. What else should you have in your wallet, in your possession, even if you can’t get in your house?

Even though more and more we are becoming a paperless society, there’s some things you just can’t get away from. And most of these things you should consider carrying in your wallet, or at least storing in a safe, easily accessible place in case of that disaster.

Of course, there are the basics, things like your Driver’s License and credit cards, that are probably already in your wallet. But what about your birth certificate? Your passports and social security card? These are the items that we store someplace other than our wallet since we don’t need them on a daily basis. And while you might not need them immediately after a disaster, you want to ensure that they are in that safe, easily accessible place we’ve been talking so much about.

Other documents to consider would include insurance information, including health insurance, home owner’s and automobile insurance. Proof of home ownership should be in this pile along with your bank name, address, phone number and your account numbers. If you have a mortgage or any other monthly bill, make sure you have the information needed to pay these – some companies might not be forgiving if you miss a payment after a disaster.

Medial documents, such as medications, doctor’s names and phone numbers, should be listed as well as contact information for family members.

Documents You'll Need in an Emergency

Documents You Need When Disaster Strikes

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