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This week’s topic for National Preparedness Month will cover the response efforts you can take during a disaster.

What are considered response efforts for disasters?  

This one is also self-explanatory. However, FEMA defines response as “activities that address the short-term, direct effects of an incident. Response includes immediate actions to save lives, protect property, and meet basic human needs.”

How should I respond to a disaster? 

When responding to a disaster, this is where you put your preparedness plans into action. If you do not have a family or friend you can stay with, head to the nearest evacuation shelter you have pre-identified if it is unsafe to remain where you are.

  • In an earthquake, response activities include seeking cover away from windows and holding on to a sturdy object. Pull over and put your car in park if you are in a car. Once the shaking stops, move outside and away from the danger of falling objects or a damaged structure, and turn off the gas supply to your home.
  • In a wildfire, load your car with essential items to be ready to go immediately. Pay attention to emergency alerts. If you do not have enough time, only grab your emergency kit and find the safest route out of danger. If you receive orders to evacuate or decide to leave, grab your family emergency plan and emergency go-kit.
  • In a flood, never drive through moving water as it only takes 1 foot of water to move a car. Never walk through moving water; it only takes 6 inches to knock you off your feet. Listen to news and local emergency alerts. Stay in your car if trapped in moving water, and get on your roof if the car fills with water.
  • Call 911 if you cannot self-evacuate or if other emergencies prevent you from responding as planned.

Become an Active Disaster Volunteer

For those of you who would like to take a more active role and have the time to do so, I recommend getting involved with your local Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT. These programs are certified by FEMA and will help prepare and empower you with basic first aid skills, emergency response skills, light search and rescue skills, and more. Becoming a certified CERT volunteer will allow you to help yourself, your family, and your community prepare for and respond during a disaster.

Find your local CERT program here, and become an active participant in keeping your community safe!

Additional Resources 

If you would like to look at a comprehensive list of response actions you can take in various disasters, see FEMA’s Be Informed Guide for ways to respond and prepare for these disasters. Some of the preparedness actions can be done in the moments leading up to the disaster, and some must be done days to weeks before. The more prepared you are for a disaster, the better you will be able to respond when disaster strikes.