Staying Healthy & Safe After a Disaster

Coping with Trauma

Recovery continues even days or months after a disaster as you and your family face the emotional and psychological effects of the event. Reactions vary from person to person, but may include:

  • Anger, fear, or wanting revenge
  • Headaches
  • Lack of emotion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Needing to keep active
  • Restless sleep or nightmares
  • Weight loss or gain

All of these 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

To 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.