Tips To Staying Safe During A Disaster

by Frederick Akinola
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A house destroyed from natural disaster

A disaster can occur at any time. It could be an earthquake, hurricane or terrorist attack. You could say God forbid, it won’t happen. But the reality is, anything can happen. It is one thing to read about a disaster; it is another to live through one. What can you do before, during, and after a disaster to improve the likelihood of your survival? Let’s give you advice from our research from various sources:

Be Prepared

No one hopes for a disaster to happen, and neither is anyone immune to it. Even though we believe we live in an area or country safe and seemingly disaster-proof, we need to be prepared. Preparation is your most important key to survival. But what does preparation involve?

You need to be prepared mentally. Acknowledge the fact that disasters happen and that you and your loved ones are potentially at risk. It is too late to prepare after disaster strikes. This way you are not overwhelmed by shock. Learn about disasters that can happen in your area. Know where shelters are. Consider whether the construction of your home and its location is as safe as possible. Prepare emergency supplies. Power, water, phone, and transportation services can fail. If you own a car, try to keep the fuel tank at least half full, and always have food, water, and an emergency kit in your home.​

Disaster management organizations urge families to store and annually update emergency supplies. It is recommended that you keep at least eleven litres of water per person and three days of nonperishable, ready-to-eat foods. Also have ready a blanket, first-aid kit, toiletries, child-care supplies, emergency contacts, and some cash.  You should add any other essential needs you have to a bag you can quickly pick up and run away with in case of an emergency.  Know the nearest exits in your building, as well as the emergency plan of your children’s school.

During the Disaster, Act Quickly

In a fire, stay close to the floor, and move quickly to the nearest exit. Smoke makes it hard to see, and most fire deaths are caused by smoke inhalation. Leave behind personal items. Seconds can make the difference between life and death.

In a flood, stay out of flooded buildings. Avoid wading in or driving through water. Floodwater can contain sewage and conceal dangers, including debris, open manholes, and downed power lines. During severe weather, you should stay home and keep to the safest part of the building – away from windows. Don’t go out unless you really have to, and make sure someone knows where you are going and how long you will be. Most deaths in flooding result when people try to drive through moving water. If your property is starting to flood, or if you are being told to evacuate, turn off your electrical supply.

 In case of an outdoor chemical, biological, or nuclear accident or attack, stay indoors, turn off ventilation, and seal all doors and windows. Listen to the radio, TV and/or social media for updates and information. Beware of fake news.

In an earthquake, get under sturdy furniture or next to an inside wall. Expect aftershocks, and get outside and away from buildings as soon as you can. Trained rescuers may not arrive for hours, so try to rescue others if you can.

If the authorities order an evacuation, leave immediately! Let friends know where you are, or they may risk their lives looking for you. Text messaging may be more reliable than telephone voice service.

After​ the Disaster—Stay Safe

Keep your daily routine as normal as possible. Your children need to see that you are calm and hopeful. Do not dwell on news coverage of the tragedy, and do not take out your anxiety or frustration on family members. Accept help, and help others. To survive, we need clean water, food, clothing, and shelter from the weather.​

Recognize and address the emotional injuryThis often surfaces after the initial shock has passed. Symptoms include anxiety, depression, and mood swings, as well as difficulty thinking, working, and sleeping. Spend time with friends and family. They can help you through this tough time. If your family lives outside the area, stay in touch by phone. If you have any children, encourage them to share their concerns and feelings about the disaster with you.

Avoid drugs and excessive drinking. Drugs and alcohol may temporarily seem to remove stress, but in the long run, they generally create additional problems that compound the stress you were already feeling.

Ask for help when you need it. If you have strong feelings that won’t go away or if you are troubled for longer than four to six weeks, you may want to seek professional help. People who have existing mental health problems and those who have survived past trauma may also want to check in with a mental health care professional.

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