Gabriella Barthlow was a financial coach in Detroit who prepared for a power cut that knocked out electricity in a region of multi-states in 2003. She had enough money to purchase food for her and her children.

She recalls, “I was so happy that I had that money.” Barthlow now encourages clients to be prepared for any unexpected events. Although power outages, weather disruptions, and other disasters can cause chaos and can take a financial toll, being prepared can minimize the damage.

These are the steps you can take in order to be ready for any emergency.

Set aside physical cash

Barthlow discovered that cash is crucial in times of power outages, as machines that take debit and credit cards may not be working. Bernie Carr, author of “The Prepper’s Pocket Guide” and founder of, says you want to keep enough cash on hand to cover gas and food for several days and carry at least some of it with you.

Carr states that he keeps $40 cash in his car or purse to ensure that he can get home when the registers stop working.

This money can be added to your emergency savings fund. It is kept in a savings account to aid you in times of income loss or unexpected hardship. Experts recommend that you save at least three to six months’ worth of expenses in this account. However, smaller amounts can help stabilize your finances.

Slowly build up supplies

Carr recommends purchasing supplies that can be stored for a long time to help you cope with temporary interruptions in power, water, and other utilities. This is especially important during natural disasters.

She suggests that you set aside $10 to buy bottled water, instant oatmeal, or your favorite food cans next time you go grocery shopping. Make sure you have a first-aid kit, including antibacterial wipes, flashlights, extra batteries, and bandages. You may also need other equipment, such as a water filter or a camping stove or solar lights.

Carr states that a lot emergency gear can also be used as camping equipment.

Collect your most important documents

Barthlow recommends gathering your essential documents – contact numbers, insurance information, recent bank account statements, identity cards, marriage, birth, and divorce certificates – and placing them in a waterproof and fireproof box. Then, scan and store them online in an account password-protected or a flash drive.

Barthlow states that decluttering is a good idea.

She says that she could leave her house in just an hour and find all the important documents.

Paul Golden, spokesperson for National Endowment for Financial Education (a non-profit that promotes financial education, and well-being), says January could be the best time to tackle that challenge. The new year is a great time to do some preparation work. This is the time when people take stock, clean up documents, and resolve to be better .”

Protect your credit

In an emergency, it is easy to forget to pay a bill or your credit card payment . This can harm your credit .

“If you see a disruption in your on-time payments to creditors, contact them and let them know about your situation. He suggests asking for an extension.

Companies may offer adjusted payment plans for people affected by widespread disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic and power outages. However, you might have to ask or choose to be involved.

Fraudsters often target victims of natural catastrophes. Be aware. Golden advises that you should be on high alert for any emails or phone calls. Before sharing account information, you should verify who you are speaking to.

A caller claiming to represent your financial institution or insurance company should be hung up.

Start the recovery process

After the emergency is over, it’s time for you to get the pieces back together: Make any insurance claims, rebuild emergency savings, and replace all items. Golden recommends taking notes on all customer service interactions in order to track and follow-up. The website provides information on local recovery efforts, and can connect you to community resources like food banks.

Being able to survive an emergency can help you get ready for the next. Carr, who was living in Houston at that time, saw the impact of Hurricane Ike on 2008 and decided to put more emphasis on preparation.

Carr suggests that everyone should review their emergency plans at least once per year. It should be an integral part of your life, just like car insurance. Unexpected events will happen .”

This article was originally published by The Associated Press and was written by NerdWallet.