Disasters can strike at any time, anywhere. They can be natural, such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes, or man-made, such as fires, explosions, terrorist attacks and pandemics. Disasters can disrupt your life, damage your property, injure or kill you and your loved ones, and cause emotional distress.
The best way to cope with disasters is to be prepared. Being prepared means having a plan, having an emergency kit, and knowing what to do before, during and after a disaster. Being prepared can reduce the impact of disasters on you and your family, and help you recover faster.
How to Prepare for Disasters
Here are some tips on how to prepare for disasters:
- Make a plan. Form a family communication plan that includes how you will contact each other, where you will meet, and what you will do in different scenarios. Review and practice the plan regularly. You can use this fillable form from Ready.gov to make a plan quickly and easily.
- Build a kit. Have an emergency kit in your home and in your car that contains at least three days of food and water, a flashlight, a radio, batteries, medicines, first aid kit, money, clothing, blankets, sanitation supplies, and important documents. You can use this checklist from Ready.gov to build your kit.
- Stay informed. Monitor the radio, TV or the internet for weather alerts and emergency information. Download the FEMA app for resources, weather alerts and safety tips. Know how to receive Medina County Emergency Alerts from local officials. Learn about the risks and hazards in your area and how to prepare for them.
- Know how to shut off utilities. Know where the main switches or valves are for your water, gas and electricity. Learn how to turn them off in case of an emergency. Label them clearly and keep the necessary tools nearby.
- Learn first aid and CPR. At least one family member should know how to perform basic first aid and CPR in case of injuries or medical emergencies. Contact your local fire department for information on CPR classes.
- Be ready to evacuate or shelter in place. Depending on the type and severity of the disaster, you may have to leave your home quickly or stay inside until it is safe. Have a Emergency Supply Kit ready with essential items that you can grab and go if you need to evacuate. Have a safe room or shelter in your home where you can stay if you need to shelter in place.
How to Stay Safe During Disasters
Here are some tips on how to stay safe during disasters:
- Follow instructions from authorities. Listen to the advice and warnings from local officials and emergency responders. Follow their instructions on whether to evacuate or shelter in place, where to go, what routes to take, and what precautions to take. Signup for Medina County Emergency Alerts to recieve emergency information from local officials.
- Stay calm and alert. Don’t panic or lose hope. Stay focused on your safety and survival. Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for potential hazards or dangers.
- Protect yourself from injuries. Wear appropriate clothing and protective gear for the situation. Avoid touching or moving objects that are damaged, broken or unstable. Stay away from downed power lines, flooded areas, fallen trees, debris or fire.
- Help others if you can. Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly, disabled or have special needs. Offer assistance if you are able to do so safely. Don’t put yourself or others in danger.
How to Recover After Disasters
Here are some tips on how to recover after disasters:
- Seek medical attention if needed. If you or anyone in your family is injured or sick, get medical help as soon as possible. Keep any wounds clean and covered to prevent infection. Follow the directions of your doctor, pharmacist, and local health department for any medications or treatments.
- Contact your family and friends. Let them know that you are safe and where you are. Reunite with your family members as soon as possible. Use your family communication plan or the American Red Cross Emergency App to connect with your loved ones.
- Assess the damage to your property. When it is safe to do so, inspect your home and belongings for any damage or loss. Take photos or videos of the damage for insurance purposes. Contact your insurance company to file a claim.
- Apply for assistance if needed. If you need financial help or other resources after a disaster, you may be eligible for assistance from federal, state or local agencies or organizations. You can apply for disaster assistance from FEMA online, by phone or in person.
- Cope with stress and trauma. Disasters can cause a lot of stress and trauma for you and your family. It is normal to feel sad, angry, scared or overwhelmed after a disaster. You may also experience physical or mental health problems, such as headaches, insomnia, anxiety or depression. It is important to take care of yourself and your family after a disaster. Here are some ways to cope with stress and trauma:
- Talk to someone you trust about your feelings and experiences.
- Seek professional help if you have trouble coping or if you have thoughts of harming yourself or others.
- Limit your exposure to media coverage of the disaster.
- Maintain your normal routine as much as possible.
- Engage in healthy activities that make you feel good, such as exercise, hobbies, meditation or relaxation.
- Join a support group or community organization that can provide you with emotional and practical support.
- You can also contact the National Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 for emotional support and counseling.
Remember, you are not alone. There are many people and resources that can help you and your family recover from a disaster. By being prepared, staying safe and recovering well, you can overcome any disaster and build a more resilient future.