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After an Emergency

After an emergency is over, there can still be danger present. When you plan what you will do before and during a disaster, be sure to include a plan for afterward, as well. What you do next can save your life and the lives of others.

After the Disaster Guide (PDF)

What To Do

  • Stay calm. Help family members or neighbors who may need help.
  • Check the area around you for safety. In the case of biological, chemical or radiological threats, listen for instructions on local radio or television stations about safe places to go.
  • Some natural hazards, like severe storms or earthquakes, may continue to happen over the next several days. Continue to be careful and follow safety instructions.
  • Stay tuned to your local emergency station. Information may change quickly after a major disaster, so listen regularly for updates. If the power is still out, listen to a battery-powered radio, television, or car radio.
  • Wash small wounds with soap and water. To help prevent infection, use bandages and replace them if they become dirty, damaged, or soaked through with water.
  • Unless told by officials to evacuate your area, stay off the roads. This is so that emergency vehicles (like ambulances and fire trucks) can quickly get where they need to go.
  • Avoid using the telephone (cellular or landlines) if a large number of homes in your area have been affected by a disaster. Emergency responders need to have the telephone lines available so they can quickly help people. During the immediate post-disaster time period, only use the telephone to report life-threatening conditions and to call your out-of-town emergency contact.
  • Turn off sensitive electrical equipment to prevent them from being damaged when electricity is restored. This includes computers, DVD players, and televisions. You should also turn off major electrical and gas appliances (like stoves, refrigerators and washing machines) that were on when the power went off to help prevent power surges when electricity comes back on.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep in cold. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information on food and water safety after a disaster.
  • Do not use the stove to heat your home. This can cause a fire or deadly gas leak.
  • Use extreme caution when driving. If traffic signals are out, treat each signal as a stop sign — come to a full stop at every intersection and look around you before driving through it.
  • DO NOT call 9-1-1 to ask about a power outage or to get other information about the emergency. Even during or after a disaster, 9-1-1 should only be used for emergencies. In case of a power outage, use battery-operated equipment to listen to news and radio stations for updates.

For Kids

  • Children need attention after an emergency.
  • Encourage children to talk about their fears. Let them ask questions and tell you how they’re feeling. Listen to what they say, as a family when possible.
  • Reassure them with love.
  • Reassure them that they are safe and answer their questions honestly.
  • Tell them, in simple language, what is happening. Tell them that they are not responsible for what happened. Limit the amount of news they hear on the radio or see on the TV.
  • Hold and hug them often.
  • When they go back to school, encourage them to also talk about their problems with teachers or school counselors and to play games, ride bikes, and do all of the other things they did before the disaster.

Recover and Rebuild

Disaster Assistance may be available depending on your situation — start here.