When the storm subsides: What to do in the aftermath of a disaster
04/10/2020 // Arsenio Toledo // Views

Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods and other similar disasters and emergencies are difficult to get through. It takes a lot of preparation to be able to say you're ready to face a disaster. Emergency supply kits need to be stocked, family members need to be geared up and emergency bug out plans need to be drawn up. But when the dust settles, would you know how to deal with the aftermath? Here are several of the important steps you have to take. (h/t to DoomsdayMoose.com)

Identify missing people

Once the dust settles and any active threats have either disappeared or have been neutralized, you should let people know you're safe. If you could, call any family member, relatives and even neighbors to ask how they're doing. You should keep in touch with local authorities to notify them of your safety. Likewise, local officials can notify you if missing members of your family or friends have been found.

Return home

You should only return home after a disaster once authorities have declared the area safe. And before you even enter your home, you need to check for hazards, such as structural damage, gas leaks, loose power lines and even the presence of looters. When you and your family begin your clean-up, be careful when moving stuff around and take care to not injure yourself. Remember to document all the property damage you experienced. Take pictures and videos of your property for future insurance proceedings. (Related: Prepping for the unexpected: What to do before, during and after a sudden disaster.)

Gather vital documents

Many of your vital documents can get lost when SHTF, especially during fires and floods. The process of replacing family, legal and financial documents like birth certificates, income tax returns and the titles and deeds to your property will vary by state. Some of the most important documents you need to retrieve are your birth certificate, passport, marriage certificate, driver's license, social security documents and any financial documents you may need if you own a business. Having a disaster recovery plan in place can also enable your business to get back on its feet quicker and easier than many of your local competitors.


Check on your mental health

One of the most important things you need to look after once a disaster is over is your mental well-being. Surviving a disaster can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, which can lead you and others in your family down a dark path if it isn't addressed quickly. Environmental triggers can cause you to spiral uncontrollably, such as hearing the sound of running water after just experiencing a flash flood, or hearing the sound of balloons popping after surviving a shootout.

Here are several ways to cope mentally after a disaster:

  • Look for social support. Seek out and connect with friends who can sympathize with your condition.
  • Connect with local support groups or licensed crisis counselors who can talk you through what you just went through.
  • Stick to a routine. This can help lessen your feeling that your life is chaotic or out of control. Coming up with a daily schedule and sticking to it can return a semblance of order in your life.
  • Focus on self-care. This means taking care of your body, mind and spirit through a variety of healthy coping strategies, such as releasing all of your negative emotions through exercise instead of substance abuse, cooking healthy meals instead of eating that bag of chips, and meditating and watching movies with your family instead of getting angry.

The best way to make sure that you get through a disaster in one piece is to be prepared. Hopefully, these tips about surviving the aftermath can help you think ahead and get yourself and your family ready for the next disaster.

Sources include:



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