After Disaster Strikes: Tips for Reuniting with Family

 

September is National Preparedness Month, a time to prepare for crisis and natural disasters. Families, schools, communities and workplaces are urged to take action on National PrepareAthon! Day, September 30th, by participating in a simple yet specific activity that will increase preparedness for everyone. Suggestions include creating an emergency kit, hosting an emergency drill practice, having a group discussion on family and/or workplace emergency plans, and being informed about the different types of hazards that could occur in your community and the best actions to mitigate danger.

 

Calexico, CA--  After a 7.2 earthquake struck the downtown district, buildings were closed and demolished to eliminate hazzards. FEMA, Cal EMA, and local officials are inspecting structures for cracks and identifying potential threats to the community. Adam DuBrowa/FEMA

Calexico, CA– After a 7.2 earthquake struck the downtown district, buildings were closed and demolished to eliminate hazzards. FEMA, Cal EMA, and local officials are inspecting structures for cracks and identifying potential threats to the community. Adam DuBrowa/FEMA

 

Written by Monica Ivey

The safety and wellbeing of family and friends are of utmost importance in the wake of a natural disaster. If you happen to be separated from family when the crisis occurs, your first instinct will be to locate them. Ideally, your family has created an emergency plan so that you can reunite quickly and safely at a pre-designated area.

FEMA reports that 50% of Americans have developed and discussed a family emergency plan that includes instructions about where to go and what to do in the event of a local disaster. While this is an increase from only 30% of families having a plan in 2012, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

However, even the most organized family strategies may not go according to plan when a disaster hits. Relatives may not be able to reach the assigned emergency destination or you may not have access to a key evacuation route. There are organizations and resources to assist when things don’t go as planned.

The American Red Cross is an invaluable resource for disaster recovery and assistance. Red Cross volunteers provide first aid, hot meals, shelter, financial assistance, basic household items and education on disease prevention. They also maintain an online registry of lost, separated and injured survivor names to assist in the search for loved ones after a major disaster occurs. Keep the address and phone number to your local chapter and other local organizations with important documents in your emergency kit.

The Red Cross also has mobile apps available for emergency first aid, shelter, and recovery assistance during floods, earthquakes, wildfires, tornados, and hurricanes.

The Salvation Army is another international organization that aids in disaster assistance. They provide training to volunteers interested in becoming experienced disaster relief workers in their National Disaster Training Program.

U.S. Coast Guard Disaster Assistance Response Team personnel from Louisville, Ky., and Huntington, West Va., assist is the removal of flood victims from their homes in Findlay, Ohio, Thursday.  Coast Guard crews continue to work closely with state and local officials as more rain continues to threaten other parts of the state. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer Third Class William Mitchell)

U.S. Coast Guard Disaster Assistance Response Team personnel from Louisville, Ky., and Huntington, West Va., assist is the removal of flood victims from their homes in Findlay, Ohio, Thursday. Coast Guard crews continue to work closely with state and local officials as more rain continues to threaten other parts of the state. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer Third Class William Mitchell)

U.S. Coast Guard Disaster Assistance Response Team personnel from Louisville, Ky., and Huntington, West Va., assist in the removal of flood victims from their homes in Findlay, Ohio. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer Third Class William Mitchell, August 23, 2007)

The road to recovery after disaster is managed step by step. A return to normalcy is important for everyone, especially children. Including them in your preparedness activities will allow them to develop a sense of security while making them aware of natural hazards. The key to reuniting quickly and safely with family is to create and practice an effective emergency and communications plan. Start yours today!

Join the Preparedness Community for National PrepareAthon! Day, September 30th, a National Day of Action, where schools, places of employment, faith-based and community organizations , colleges and universities are encouraged to host a specific activity, focusing on a specific hazard (earthquake, flood, wildfire, tornado, hurricane, winter storm) to have a tangible impact of increased preparedness for each individual. Go to www.ready.gov/prepare for more information.

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