Friday, November 15, 2013

What to do when disaster strikes somewhere else

When disaster happens, whether it’s close to home or in a faraway country, it can spark many emotions. Pictures of the devastation can be heartbreaking while news reports of the event can cause fear for one’s own safety. On the other hand, a crisis can also bring out the best in people and nations as they rush to help those in need.

Here are some tips and tools for coping and helping with a disaster that happens somewhere else.

Address your emotions
According to the American Psychological Association, shock and denial are normal reactions to an event the size of Typhoon Haiyan that recently struck the Philippines. Pay close attention to the level of intensity of your feelings, interpersonal relationships and any physical symptoms that may arise. Be sure to also read how these responses can change over time in Managing Traumatic Stress: Tips for Recovering from Disasters and Other Traumatic Events.

Get ready
Reading about a disaster can make you worry about such an event happening in your town. Take this opportunity to learn what types of disasters could occur in your region and what steps you should take to prepare. While you may never experience flooding from a typhoon, your area could be at a high risk for wildfires or other emergency. Before disaster strikes:

Send help
The best way to help immediately after a disaster is to donate to a relief organization. USA Today has compiled a list of agencies responding in the Philippines who need your help, including UNICEF, American Red Cross, Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders.

Material donations can actually harm relief efforts by clogging supply chains, taking away space needed to stage life-saving relief supplies and diverting relief workers’ time. If you already have these items collected, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Center for International Disaster Information has compiled a list of 55 Ways to Repurpose a Material Donation. They also offer several tools and guides to help you help those in need.

A disaster can be a scary and disturbing event no matter where it occurs. Be sure to take care of your emotional healthget prepared and send appropriate help to those in need.

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