After an Emergency
The first concern after a disaster is the health and safety of you and your loved ones. Your planning and preparedness efforts will strengthen everyone’s ability to recover.
Consider these general tips to take after an emergency event
- Take care of yourself, your family, and those around you first.
- Notify relatives and friends of your location.
- Pace yourself during recovery activities to avoid exhaustion, illness, or injury.
- Drink plenty of clean water, eat well, and get enough rest.
- Protect yourself by wearing work boots, gloves, and eye protection during clean up or debris removal.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water often when working in debris.
- Attend community meetings to obtain information about the situation and status of recovery efforts.
- If your property has been damaged, or you or your family injured, contact your insurance agent.
Disasters may cause a wide variety of safety issues
- Use caution if you are driving due to the potential for damaged roadways or debris.
- Treat each signal as a stop sign if traffic signals are out.
- Watch for washed-out roads, contaminated buildings, contaminated water, gas leaks, broken glass, and damaged electrical wiring.
- Be careful both inside and outside a building.
- Inform local authorities about health and safety issues, including chemical spills, downed power lines, washed out roads, smoldering insulation, and dead animals.
Recovery from a disaster or emergency event may continue well after it is over. It is normal to have reactions as you deal with the emotional and psychological effects of the event. It is important to allow people to react in their own way.
Reactions vary from person to person and may include
• Restless sleep or nightmares.
• Anger or wanting revenge.
• Numbness or lack of emotion.
• Needing to keep active, restlessness.
• Needing to talk about experiences.
• Loss of appetite.
• Weight loss or gain.
• Mood swings.
It may be helpful to talk with family, friends, a counselor or a religious or spiritual advisor about what happened and how you feel about it. It may be good to spend time doing things other than watching or listening to news of the disaster. Activities such as volunteering at a local shelter, blood bank, or food pantry to assist emergency victims may help your own recovery as well as helping others.
Recovery for Children
After a disaster, children are most afraid that the event will happen again. Common fears include someone will be injured or killed; they will be separated from their family and/or they will be left alone.
The following tips may help to reduce your child’s fear and anxiety after an event
- Keep the family together.
- Calmly and firmly explain the situation in simple language.
- Keep them informed about what is happening.
- Encourage children to talk about their fears. Let them ask questions and describe how they’re feeling. Listen to them.
- Children may tell stories about the emergency over and over again; this is a common way for them to grasp their experience. You may also want to share your feelings about the event with them.
- Reassure them with love. Tell them they are safe, everything will be all right, and life will return to normal again.
- Emphasize that they are not responsible for what happened.
- Hold and hug them frequently.
- Include them in recovery activities.
- Encourage them to return to school and discuss problems with teachers and to resume playing games, riding bikes, and other activities.
- Limit the amount of time children are exposed to media coverage of disasters and people’s reactions to the events. This can be very upsetting to children, especially if the images are shown over and over.