Natural disasters and most emergencies are beyond your control, but you can lessen their impact on your family’s health and safety. Preparation and planning done ahead of time can help keep you calm, cool, and collected in an emergency. Take time before an event to improve your family’s health preparedness. In doing so, you can gain confidence in your ability to respond to, withstand, and recover from stress and adversity of an emergency.
- Find and practice healthy ways to cope with everyday stress:
- Get involved in your community. Take your mind off your problems by helping a neighbor or volunteering with an organization active in disasterexternal icon.
- Connect with individuals (e.g., family, friends, and neighbors) and social networks (e.g., community and faith-based groups, and online communities)
- Take care of yourself: Eat healthy, exercise regularly, take breaks from work and the news, learn relaxation techniquesexternal icon like meditation and deep breathing, and seek help when needed.
- Take a classes or training to learn new or refresh old practical skills, such as healthy ways to deal with stress, to gain confidence in your ability to respond to traumatic events.
- Stay informed. When you feel that you are missing information, you may become more stressed or nervous. Watch, listen to, or read information from trusted sources, including CDC and state and local health departments. Sharing truthful and trustful information can help reduce stress in yourself and others.
- Being prepared can help you stay calm and clear-headed in a response. Build and maintain an emergency supplies kit and emergency action plan. Update your supplies and review your plan every six (6) months:
- Remove, use, and replace any food and water, prescription medications, and supplies before they expire.
- Update your plans as needed; for example, if you move, change jobs, add to your family (i.e., a child or a pet), or experience another significant life event.
- Shop responsibly. Buy what your family needs and leave some for others. Do not buy more supplies than you need to prepare for or in response to an emergency.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about creating an emergency supply of essential medications.
- Include your entire family, including pets, in practicing emergency action plans. Training pets to be in their carriers can make them feel more comfortable and help reduce the stress of an evacuation.
- Involve kids in preparing for emergencies to help them develop the skills and self-confidence they will need to respond in an emergency. Download age-appropriate resources, such as Ready Wrigley activity books, that you can use to explain emergency preparedness and to help kids cope with traumatic events.
- Participate in emergency (e.g., building and home evacuation) drills and exercises like the Great ShakeOutexternal icon for the practice and peace of mind of knowing how to respond in an emergency.
- Keep a copy of the Disaster Distress Helpline wallet cardexternal icon in your “Go Bag” as a quick reference if—over time—in case you have trouble coping.
- If getting prepared feels too big, make it smaller. Chip away at getting and staying prepared one day (or month), one thing at time. Initiatives like Do 1 Thingexternal icon can help you break down the job of preparing your health into smaller, easily achievable tasks.
- Establish routines (e.g., learning, bed, and bath time) and flexible schedules (e.g., meal, screen, play time) now that you can stick to—feasibly—in an emergency. After a disaster, it can be useful to engage in activities that help you regain a sense of control.
- Know how to ask good questions of caregivers, healthcare professionals, and responders; identify helpful resources and points of contact; and build a strong social network that you can call on with questions and for support.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, and your own feelings can change over time. It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during and after an emergency. If these feelings persist for several days or prevent you from going about your daily life and routine, seek professional help.
- Talk with people you trust (e.g., friends and family) about your concerns and how you are feeling.
- Call a pastor, counselor, or mental healthcare provider. Include contact information for these people in your emergency action plan.
- Call the Disaster Distress Helplineexternal icon at 800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifelineexternal icon at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).