Dealing with the aftermath of a disaster can be devastating and stressful. Recovery can be a long road, but there are some things you will need to remember in the first minutes, hours, and days to start the process and keep you safe.
- Notify friends and family as soon as possible that you are safe.
- Monitor the health and safety of your family members. First check to make sure immediate needs have been met including tending to the injured. If additional medical attention is needed seek the proper authorities as quickly as possible.
- Be sure family members are drinking water, getting rest, and eating well.
- Take precautions when encountering debris. Wear proper attire and wash hands often.
- New safety issues may arise after disasters. Be watchful of washed out roads, contaminated buildings, contaminated water, gas leaks, broken glass, damaged electrical wiring, and slippery floors.
- Alert local authorities about any health or safety concerns including chemical spills, downed power lines, washed out roads, smoldering insulation, and dead animals.
- Do not return home until authorities have said it is safe to do so. Do not enter if you smell gas or if flood waters are still surrounding the building.
- Carefully inspect the outside of the home before entering. Check for gas leaks, structural damage, or loose electrical wiring. Never enter a home if you feel it may be unsafe to do so. Wait for proper maintenance crews or authorities if needed.
- When inspecting the inside of a home be on the lookout for falling objects, possible rodents or other wildlife, frayed or sparking wires, water leaks, sewage leaks, the smell of gas, and other signs that may indicate the need for extra precautions.
- Take extra care to leave the home if you feel in danger. Turn off appropriate valves and systems where needed. This may include shutting off water valves and turning off electricity. Gas must be turned off from the outside. Stay in a safe place while alerting the gas company.
- Cleaning can begin when it is safe to do so. Be informed about how to properly dispose of and disinfect items that have been affected. Use precautions when cleaning to avoid injury.
- Secure your home as best you can. You may need to make temporary repairs to do so.
- Remove any valuable items from your home if you feel it is necessary.
- Get in touch with your insurance agent as soon as possible after a disaster. Your plan may cover housing or shelter costs if you are displaced from your home.
- Keep all receipts. This may include documents from food, housing, storage, repairs, or cleaning costs.
- Take pictures of damages. Keep records of conversations with your insurance company and anything else regarding repair and cleaning.
- FEMA offers a great deal of information on how to receive services and information after a disaster. You may even qualify for disaster assistance.
- USA.gov also has great information about where to find assistance for various needs.
After a disaster you will need support and guidance. There are things you will want to do keep your family safe and to start the recovery process. The information we have provided will get you started.
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