First Steps After Disaster Strikes
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The first few minutes after a disaster strikes are the most critical. Because many disasters occur without warning, you will feel a surge of adrenaline coursing through your veins. Your heart will be pumping faster, your breathing rate will increase, and you’ll find yourself fighting the impulse to panic. This is a natural physiological response to any emergency situation.
Preplanning for a disaster can help you regain—and maintain—a sense of calm. Take charge by following these important steps:
- Locate everyone in your home (including pets), and grab your disaster kit.
- Assess whether anyone has been injured. Provide CPR and basic first aid, as needed. If there are major injuries, call 911 to request emergency medical assistance. For minor injuries, stay off the phone to keep the lines clear and administer basic first aid. (A first aid kit is included in your disaster kit.)
- Keep your emergency supplies kit with you at all times so your emergency supplies are close at hand. If you need to evacuate your home, take your disaster kit with you.
- Use your Family Communication Plan to track down family members who are not at home.
- Monitor TV/radio reports and updates so you can follow rescuers’ and local authorities’ orders. If there’s a power outage, use the battery-operated radio that is included in your disaster kit.
If you are ordered to remain in your home, use your emergency supplies kit to take care of your essential needs. It contains a flashlight and batteries that will get you through a power outage, a first aid kit, a respirator, a three-day supply of drinking water and emergency food, shelter-in-place instructions, Home Guard Barrier Sheeting, duct tape and an emergency preparedness manual, among other critical disaster supplies. Remember: You need to have sufficient emergency supplies to care for every member of your family. Use American Family Safety’s Are You Ready? Family Assessment Tool to ensure every family member is protected.
If you are ordered to evacuate your home, do not procrastinate! Possessions can be replaced; family members cannot. Your No. 1 priority is your family’s safety, so do not place anyone in jeopardy by gathering pictures, scrapbooks or other mementos. Follow the orders that are designed to get you out of the house quickly. Do not return home until you receive the “all clear” from state, local or federal authorities. Your life and safety may depend on it.