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After the Disaster
After the Disaster
Once the emergency is over, you’ll have to deal with the aftermath of the disaster. The health and safety of you and your family should be your first priority. And if medical attention is needed, now is the time to seek help. Call local responders, travel to a hospital or medical center, or contact the Red Cross to get assistance.
If you’ve evacuated, return home as soon as local government gives the okay – but don’t expect everything to be as it was when you left. Proceed with caution, especially if there were massive storms, flash floods, or other natural disasters – as damage could have occurred that isn’t necessarily visible at first glance.
It’s also important to prepare yourself mentally. Even if everyone is okay and made it through the disaster unscathed, it can feel devastating to return home and see your home and belongings destroyed.
Recovering Your Losses
When a natural disaster or emergency hits, it’s not unusual to experience physical and financial losses. But with proper preparation, you can minimize the impact.
Well before you’re faced with an emergency situation, talk to your home owner’s insurance company about what is covered and what’s not. You may be surprised to learn that the company will cover roof damage, but not flood damage. By knowing what’s covered and what isn’t, you can get extra coverage for the types of disasters that are most common in your area.
Make a written or photographic record of your valuable possessions. From jewelry to appliances to video games, know what things you have of value so that if they’re damaged during a disaster emergency, you can detail your losses. This list will also be of value when dealing with your insurance company and at the end of the year where you can account certain losses as a tax deduction.
When You Need Mental Health or Crisis Intervention
Dealing with a natural disaster or emergency takes its toll on emotions and mental health. Depending on what you’ve seen and had to deal with, you may suffer from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, or even post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But don’t suffer in silence. Reach out to your family, your doctor, or the Red Cross about seeking mental health assistance.
It’s especially important to watch children for signs of emotional stress, as these types of events can have a massive impact on them and they may not understand what happened or have the ability to verbalize how they feel about it. Even if a child didn’t experience the disaster first hand, it can still be traumatic, so be sure to keep communicating with them. Answer any questions to the best of your ability, and be sure to give them a little extra TLC.
Many communities have specialized CERT teams that are specifically trained in crisis intervention after a devastating event, whether it’s a natural disaster or a man-made calamity.
Secure Your Home
Secure Your Home
Before evacuating, secure what you can to protect your property. Take things inside and strap down patio furniture and picnic tables that are too large. Take down umbrellas and lawn chairs and pack them away. Inside, unplug your electronic devices and small appliances, such as televisions, computers, and microwaves. If told to, turn off the water and outside propane tanks.
Before leaving the house, check the list in your emergency kit to ensure nothing was forgotten. Preparing to evacuate is a stress-ridden experience and it’s easy to forget things you normally wouldn’t.
Lastly, before you close that door behind you, leave a note on the kitchen table. Include the date, the fact that you’re evacuating, where you’re going, and a way to contact you there. That way if something happens and people are looking for you, they’ll know where you headed.
Kits for Your Vehicle and On-the-Go
Kits for Your Vehicle and On-the-Go
While having a home disaster emergency kit is vital to staying prepared, it’s also important to have emergency kits in your vehicles and one that you can grab and go, even if it’s on foot. These kits should have water and non-perishable food, but should also have a way to purify it. Hardy snacks like granola bars or dried fruit should be included, as well as blankets to get you through the night if the weather’s cold.
Building Your Emergency Supply Kit
When building your emergency supply kit, start with the right container. Choose something that is waterproof and easy to carry, like a plastic tote or waterproof duffle bag. For your home kit, you may need multiple containers.
Here’s the basics of what you need to make it through three days:
At a minimum, keep one gallon of water per person per day. That means if your family consists of five people, you want 15 gallons of water. If you can store more, do so. Those who’ve been faced with an emergency situation have said that the gallon a day is hard to stretch when it comes to drinking water, cleaning yourself and your surroundings, and cooking – especially if and when medical treatment needs to be administered.
Make sure that any water you use for drinking, washing or preparing food, cleaning dishes, brushing your teeth, or making ice is not contaminated. Anything with a bad odor or taste should be avoided, as it may cause diseases like dysentery, cholera, typhoid, or hepatitis.
Non-perishable goods such as canned vegetables, soups, and powdered milk provide your family with nutrients when the possibility of cooking or preparing food is minimal. Strive to have around 2,000 calories per person per day to consume, with some to spare. Keeping a variety of foods in stock, including vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and meat will give you a balanced diet and keep everyone healthy and well-fed.
If you end up in an emergency situation, there’s a good chance you’ll have to do some level of first aid on someone. While it may be as simple as putting a bandage on a toddler's knee, it could also be as stressful as stitching a wound on that same child’s head.
For your emergency disaster kit, include more than just bandages and creams. Have syringes, splints, and a suture kit to ensure you’re prepared no matter what happens. You never know when you’ll end up needing to render first aid to not only family, but also friends, neighbors, or even strangers who stumble upon your disaster sanctuary. Include a week’s worth of any and all prescription medications you and other family members take, as well as things like ibuprofen, antihistamines, and antibacterial creams.
If you have infants, young children, elderly parents, or disabled family members, keep their needs in mind as you pack and prepare your emergency disaster kit. Things like diapers, formula, insulin, and a walker can mean the difference between keeping things calm and controlled and swimming in absolute chaos.
If you have your stockpile of food and water, but no can opener or pot to heat things up, you’ll be in a bit of trouble. That’s why it’s important to have utensils included in your disaster kit. Anything you need to prepare and eat meals, include it. Better to be over prepared than under.
Almost as important as first-aid supplies, safety supplies are essential. Include emergency blankets, equipment to start fires, flashlights, a multi-tool, a knife, and a whistle. A NOAA weather radio keeps you updated on weather alerts and helps you stay prepared.
In your emergency kit, keep copies of all your important documents. These include your insurance cards (medical, house, auto, and life), birth certificates, passports, social security cards, marriage licenses, state identification or driver’s licenses, and your emergency disaster plan – which includes the contact information for everyone in your family, as well as out-of-state family, emergency services in the area, and anything else you might need. Keep these inside a waterproof container within your disaster kit.
The list doesn’t stop there. Here are more items you should have in your kit to ensure you get through an emergency or disaster.
- Personal care items like toothpaste and shampoo
- A battery-operated or crank-style radio
- Extra batteries of all sizes
- A small amount of cash, preferably in small bills
- Spare credit card
- Map of the local area
- Extra set of car and house keys
- A list of things that should be done before you leave and how to do them
- Emergency contact list, including names, phone numbers, and addresses
How to Prepare
How to Prepare for an Emergency
When it comes to preparing for an emergency, your first defense is always knowledge. You need to know the types of natural disasters that could occur in your area, as well as the best ways to handle each one. By knowing what the specific risks are, you can better prepare for them and improve your chances of getting through the emergency with little risk. Here’s how:
To prepare for a disaster, be ready to be self-sufficient for a minimum of three days. This means having the ability to provide the following for you and your family:
- First aid
To meet these needs, you can build an emergency supply kit – which contains just about everything you’ll need, all in one easily accessible place.
Why You Need to Prep
Why You Need to Prepare for an Emergency
Why prepare for disaster? There are many reasons to prepare for an emergency, but these are some of the most important:
- Immediately after an emergency, services and utilities may be cut off. If you’re not prepared, you may not have access to water, refrigeration, or communication to stay updated on the situation.
- Emergency responders may not be able to reach you, which means you may need to fend for yourself from a few hours to a few days.
- Even if you can get out during or after an emergency, it may be hard to get things you need. Grocery stores sell out, and once those shelves are empty, it can be awhile before they get restocked.
- With some emergency situations, you have time. You may have two to three days to prepare before a hurricane hits, but if you’re involved in a terrorist attack or flash flood, there’s not much time to get things in order.
- Depending on the situation, things may be dangerous right after a disaster. Small earthquakes could hit at any time or there may be people looting on the streets. Try to stay inside to avoid danger.
- If you or a family member have a disability or special needs, it’s even more important to stay prepared. Without preparation, you may not have the items you need to maintain health.
- While the rate of natural disasters typically remains stable, the amount of climate-related disasters is increasing. And with a growing number of people living in and working around danger zones – such as floodplains and high-risk earthquakes zones – the risk of being a victim in a disaster is more likely.
- More than anything, a natural disaster can happen to you. Nine in 10 Americans say they have either been in a disaster or have been impacted by one.
A Guide For Emergency Preparation
Natural Disasters: A Guide For Emergency Preparation
Every year, nearly 200 million people are impacted by natural disasters, another 99,000 are killed, and over $162 billion a year is spent on the emergency situations they create – a staggering impact that is just the beginning of the far reach of natural disasters. Serious injury, displacement, loss of family, and even the effects PTSD are just a few of the traumatizing results that can be felt long after the disaster itself.
Even though every state in the Union has risks of natural disasters, only about half of American adults are prepared. Many don’t have a plan or even have enough food or water to get the family through a few days. And when utilities get shut down and grocery store shelves are empty, they’re left with little to do but panic.
While you can’t stop a disaster from happening, you can prepare for it. Because in dire situations when first responders may not be able to reach you, being prepared keeps you from needing emergency help while allowing responders to handle the cases that do. Staying prepared also reduces the impact of an emergency on your life and makes you more capable of dealing with the chaos of the unknown – not to mention potentially avoiding danger altogether.
This guide walks you through how to prepare for a natural disaster, how to act if one occurs, and what actions to take once it ends – because disasters happen quickly, which means you must be prepared to act quickly.
Talking to Your Children About Disasters
A Proactive Approach: Youth Preparedness Activities
The Red Cross offers youth preparedness courses and programs to help children develop the skills and confidence they may need in an emergency. We work closely with schools, scout groups, and youth-serving organizations to raise awareness of disaster risk and build resilience among young people. Our age-appropriate preparedness materials educate youth with engaging activities and easy action steps.
Make Family Preparedness Easy with One-Minute Drills
In an effort to help you and your family prepare now, here are some one-minute drills that are short on time, but long on impact.
Get a Kit
Discuss Kit Rules
Once you get the kit, make sure that everyone knows where it is and that the items in it are to be used for emergencies only. You don't want someone taking the water packet from the kit just because they don't want to make a trip to the kitchen.
Personalize Your Kit
Have each family member pick their favorite canned foods and personal items and add them to the kit.
Making an Evacuation Plan
This is much easier and less time consuming than it seems. Pull out a map and highlighter and determine two or three destinations and the routes to get there.
It is important to know what natural disasters can affect your area and what to do in the event of one striking. Read through the appropriate Disaster and Emergency Guides. Watch the weather and stay on top of the news if a hurricane or other severe weather is predicted to come your way. If local authorities are telling you to evacuate, then EVACUATE! If you followed the drills above, then you already have an evacuation plan.
Disaster Safety: Pets and Animals
- Know what disasters could affect your area, which could call for an evacuation and when to shelter in place.
- Keep a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your local emergency station and monitor TV, radio, and follow mobile alert and mobile warnings about severe weather in your area.
- Download the FEMA app, receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.
Make a Plan
Remember, during a disaster what’s good for you is good for your pet, so get them ready today.
If you leave your pets behind, they may be lost, injured – or worse. Never leave a pet chained outdoors. Plan options include:
- Create a buddy system in case you’re not home. Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals.
- Identify shelters. For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets.
- Find pet friendly hotels along your evacuation route and keep a list in your pet’s emergency kit.
- Locate boarding facilities or animal hospitals near your evacuation shelter.
- Consider an out-of-town friend or relative
- Locate a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter, in case your pet needs medical care. Add the contact information to your emergency kit.
- Have your pet microchipped and make sure that you not only keep your address and phone number up-to-date, but that you also include contact info for an emergency contact outside of your immediate area.
- Call your local emergency management office, animal shelter or animal control office to get advice and information.
- If you are unable to return to your home right away, you may need to board your pet. Find out where pet boarding facilities are located.
- Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet's medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current.
- If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet at home alone can place your animal in great danger!
Tips for Large Animals
If you have large animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats or pigs on your property, be sure to prepare before a disaster.
Ensure all animals have some form of identification.
Evacuate animals whenever possible. Map out primary and secondary routes in advance.
Make available vehicles and trailers needed for transporting and supporting each type of animal. Also make available experienced handlers and drivers.
Ensure destinations have food, water, veterinary care and handling equipment.
If evacuation is not possible, animal owners must decide whether to move large animals to shelter or turn them outside.
Take extra time to observe livestock, looking for early signs of disease and injury. Severe cold-weather injuries or death primarily occur in the very young or in animals that are already debilitated.
Animals suffering from frostbite don’t exhibit pain. It may be up to two weeks before the injury becomes evident as the damaged tissue starts to slough away. At that point, the injury should be treated as an open wound and a veterinarian should be consulted.
Make sure your livestock has the following to help prevent cold-weather problems:
Plenty of dry bedding to insulate vulnerable udders, genitals and legs from the frozen ground and frigid winds
Windbreaks to keep animals safe from frigid conditions
Plenty of food and water
Build a Kit
Include basic survival items and items to keep your pet happy and comfortable. Start with this list, or download Preparing Makes Sense for Pet Owners-Emergency Preparedness Pet Kit List (PDF) to find out exactly what items your pet needs to be Ready.
- Food. At least a three day supply in an airtight, waterproof container.
- Water. At least three days of water specifically for your pets.
- Medicines and medical records.
- Important documents. Registration information, adoption papers and vaccination documents. Talk to your veterinarian about microchipping and enrolling your pet in a recovery database.
- First aid kit. Cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Including a pet first aid reference book is a good idea too.
- Collar or harness with ID tag, rabies tag and a leash.
- Crate or pet carrier. Have a sturdy, safe crate or carrier in case you need to evacuate. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.
- Sanitation. Pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach.
- A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you. Add species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
- Familiar items. Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.
Family evacuation plan
An evacuation is the immediate and urgent movement away from a threat or hazard. Evacuations are more common than people realize and may be optional or mandatory. Disasters often force people to leave their homes, neighborhoods, cities and sometimes even states on short notice.
Because you might not have much time to evacuate when a disaster strikes, it is important to have a plan in place to get your family out of danger quickly and efficiently. The family evacuation plan should include the following.
Before an evacuation
- Determine what threats could cause you to evacuate.
- Make sure your disaster supply kit is stocked.
- Have a family communications plan in place in case you get separated during the evacuation.
- Include your pets in your family evacuation plan.
- Learn about your community’s warning system and how evacuation information will be distributed (text messages, sirens, etc.).
- Pick a location where your family will meet outside of your home and neighborhood.
- In case you have to evacuate your city, choose several destinations in different directions so you have options.
- Identify alternative evacuation routes.
- Keep at least a half-tank of gas in your car at all times in case you have to evacuate on short notice. If an evacuation seems likely, keep a full tank of gas.
- If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to. Make arrangements with friends, family members, neighbors or your local government.
- Have enough cash to pay one week’s expenses in case banks and ATMs are not accessible.
- Hold a family meeting to communicate your plan.
During an evacuation
- Leave early, follow recommended evacuation routes, and stay together if possible.
- Listen to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio or TV for the latest evacuation information.
- Be alert for road hazards, such as flooding, washed-out roads and bridges, and downed power lines.
- Take your disaster supply kit with you.
- Take your pets with you (See Disaster Preparedness Series: Preparing Pets for Disasters).
- Secure your home, close and lock all doors and windows, and inform your neighbors of your evacuation plans.
- If you have time, consider doing the following:
- Inform your out-of-town contact from your family preparedness plan where you are going.
- Unplug electrical equipment but leave freezers and refrigerators on, unless there is a risk of flooding.
- Check with friends, family members and neighbors who may need assistance.
After an evacuation
- Continue listening to a NOAA weather radio or TV for the latest evacuation information.
- Do not return home until authorities declare it is safe.
THANK FIRST RESPONDERS
Thank local first responders
Every day, police, fire and emergency medical services personnel work under stressful conditions to help keep our communities safe. But they often don’t get the thanks they deserve.
Know your Risk
The threat of hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, snowstorms, wildfires, landslides and even earthquakes are very real in North Carolina. Such events can cause injuries, deaths and damage housing, infrastructure, businesses and the environment. As development continues to increase in high hazard areas, the potential for future damages escalates and the need for mitigation activities increases. NCEM can help in individuals, local governments and business leaders reduce the impacts of natural hazards on homes, businesses and communities.
Current hazard mitigation efforts include:
the acquisition of more than 5,000 homes located in high hazard areas
the elevation of 800 flood-prone properties
providing assistance with updating of local hazard mitigation plans
the identification of business risk reduction strategies
promoting sound development and building practices outside of high hazard areas
Be Ready if Disaster Strikes
Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated.
Everyone should also have an emergency kit ready, so you can grab it and go at a moment’s notice.
Necessary items include water, food and medications as well as some cash, a first aid kit, a flashlight, batteries and any important documents you will need if you evacuate.
Families also should establish meeting places that are familiar and easy to find. It is best to choose multiple destinations in different directions so you’ll have options in an emergency. Create a plan that will enable you to evacuate quickly and safely under a variety of circumstances, and practice your evacuation.
National Preparedness Month
All Americans are encouraged to take time this month to learn lifesaving skills, such as CPR and first aid; check your insurance policies and coverage for the hazards you may face, such as floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes; consider the costs associated with disasters and begin saving for an emergency; and learn how to take practical safety steps like shutting off utilities.
National Preparedness Month includes a “National Day of Action” on Sept. 15, when groups across the country will host preparedness events such as CPR classes, Community Emergency Response Team training events and opportunities to volunteer with local recovery agencies.
Each week in September also has its own theme. For Sept. 1-8, the emphasis is to “Make and Practice Your Plan.”