Napa Valley has taken some hits on the chin over the years, and these fires are posing another challenge. We have been through flooding and earthquakes but, I don’t know if Napa has ever had fires like this.

I am proud to be a part of this community; I have been amazed by the outpouring of giving and concern. I have never heard of shelters turning away donations because they have received so much.

In our last earthquake, I learned a few ways in which I wasn’t prepared. This fire also revealed a few things to me.

I didn’t know my insurance coverages.

I called my insurer to see what I had. I bought that insurance in a rush to close on my house and didn’t put much thought into it. I was surprisingly happy with the coverage, but there are a few things you should know about your policy.

Ask your insurer about certain limits. There can be areas where the insurer limits coverage like jewelry or cash. Dig into the policy and if your coverage is not enough in certain areas then make arrangements for more.

I also learned that over time my once excellent first-aid kit had been ravaged by Band-Aid loving children. My first-aid supplies were utterly inadequate. Even when things were organized, and supplies were full, I didn’t have face masks. I think we have all learned how vital face masks can be.

A few other things I did well include document storage and having a having a “bug out” bag.

The world of document storage has improved by leaps and bounds the last 10 years. Unfortunately, most people haven’t taken advantage of the technology.

Begin by gathering all documents you will need. Tax returns, Social Security cards, insurance policies birth certificates: the list is long. Make copies of all these documents and store them in more than one place.

Then scan these documents and store them in the cloud. There are all kinds of services that save documents with military-level encryption. Consider using these services for family pictures and videos. There is no reason to lose these items in a fire.

If all your necessary documents are stored in the cloud, you can focus on other items in an evacuation.

Keep essential items in an accessible bag. Some survivalists call this a “bug out” bag. “Bug out” bags will vary widely from person to person. You will have to decide for yourself what is most important.

My “bug out” bag contains flashlights, portable radio, emergency blankets, cash, coins, pocket knives, snacks, water, documents and batteries. I hope I never have to use it, but it is there. The portable radio was used a lot the last few days.

Keep up the good fight, Napa.

We will get through this together, just like we have done in the past.

Tom and John Mills are registered investment advisers and certified financial planners. Reach them at 254-0155, MillsWealth.com. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Strategic Wealth Advisors Group (SWAG), a registered investment adviser.

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