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article image5 steps to recover from a natural disaster

By Daniel Taibleson     Jan 14, 2014 in Lifestyle
Most businesses have safety and security procedures in place, including disaster recovery plans, to ensure the continuity of business operations in the event of natural disasters.
But individuals and families may not know what to do when natural disaster such as earthquake, tornado, or floods strike. Government agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommend preparing a family emergency plan, starting with a communication plan to reach your family members when they are not together during a natural disaster. Make sure all school, work, close relatives, and neighbor’s phone numbers are in your family members’ cell phones or wallets, and discuss who to call first in case of emergency.
Step 1 – Health and Safety
The first thing to check on in an emergency is the health and safety of family members. This is easier to do if everyone is together. Call for help as soon as possible and administer first aid if supplies are available. You can check for injuries with questions and visual observance. Stop any bleeding, make injured people warm and comfortable, and avoid moving the injured unless there’s danger of further injury or death. Look around to see if new safety issues have emerged because of disaster conditions, including gas leaks, exposed electrical wiring, broken glass, chemical spills, downed power lines, fires, or contaminated water.
Step 2 – Return Home
Call your insurance agent as soon as possible for information and assistance about returning home after a disaster. There will be a lot to clean up after a disaster, so you'll need to use a local rental service like Next Day Dumpsters to help manage all of the transportation of debris. If you’re away from home when a disaster occurs, FEMA recommends inspecting the home from the outside carefully before going inside. Look for damage to power lines or gas lines, beware of animals such as snakes, and note broken glass or other materials that could make you trip or fall on you. If there appears to be structural damage, arrange to have the building inspected by a qualified professional such as a building inspector or engineer before you try to enter.
Don’t enter if the home is submerged in flood waters, is smoldering or smoking after a fire, if you see sparking electrical lines or wires, if the roof is collapsed, or you smell gas or other chemicals.
Step 3 – Seek Assistance
As soon as possible after a disaster, check local radio and television news reports, as well as social media, for information about emergency shelter, first aid, and financial assistance. Organizations such as the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, as well as churches, rotary clubs, and volunteer fire departments provide emergency help. If it is declared a major disaster by the federal government, various federal assistance programs are available to provide financial and direct aid through disaster assistance, crisis counseling, disaster legal services, disaster unemployment assistance, and various FEMA grants.
Step 4 – Cope with Disaster
Emergencies and disasters are very stressful, and can affect people in different ways. Disaster-related stress can cause any number of complications — difficulty sleeping and communicating, frustration, depression, mood swings, uncontrollable crying, feelings of anxiety, insecurity, fear, depression, and restlessness. These are normal, but if they become overwhelming, disaster or crisis counseling can help. Taking care of yourself after a disaster is important, and getting enough sleep, eating right, and getting support are helpful self-care practices.
Step 5 – Beware of Fraud
While there may be legitimate assistance available to help you recover after a natural disaster, be aware that thieves and scammers operate during emergencies and disasters to take advantage of those who are vulnerable. It’s not easy to stay level-headed after you’ve experienced unexpected devastation and loss, but verifying everything during this time is important. Beware of Internet scams that offer help to disaster victims. Make sure to verify any Internet assistance websites and remember that the same financial and identity protection methods you used before the disaster still apply. Beware of anyone approaching you as a government official and asking for your personal information. Verify who they are by asking to see identification and asking for an office address and phone number.
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