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After a disaster

Staying Healthy and Safe After a Disaster

Recovery from the trauma of a disaster continues days or months after the event as you and your family face the emotional and psychological effects of the event. Reactions vary from person to person and may include restless sleep, nightmares, anger, fear, wanting revenge, lack of emotion, needing to keep active, loss of appetite, weight loss or gain, headaches, and mood swings.

Coping with Trauma

All of the responses named above are normal reactions to stressful events. It is important to let yourself and others react in their own way. It may be helpful to:

Talk with your family and friends about what happened and how you feel about it.
Volunteer at a local shelter, blood bank, or food pantry to help with emergency efforts.
Talk to your minister, spiritual advisor or other counselor.
Encourage your children to share their feelings, even if you must listen to their stories many times – this is a normal way for children to make sense of traumatic experiences.
You may also want to share your feelings about the event with your children.

If these strategies are not helping to lower your stress, or you find that you or your family members are using drugs/alcohol or resorting to other unhealthy behaviors in order to cope, you may wish to seek outside or professional help.

Ways You Can Help Others

Following are a few more basic things to keep in mind that may help you, your family, or emergency workers get through a disaster more quickly and safely:

Call 911 or the operator only for a possible life-threatening emergency. Telephone lines are very busy in disaster situations, and they need to be kept clear for emergency calls to get through.
If you do not have an emergency, do not go to or call the hospital emergency department.
If you are able to donate blood, contact LifeSource to make an appointment at the donation center closest to you.

updated Mar 23, 2018