Helping your neighbors in a disaster

Are you prepared to help your neighbors during an emergency? According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in 95 percent of emergencies, the victim or a bystander provides the first immediate assistance. Being ready and knowing how to react can make a big impact and even save lives, as this week’s attack in Boston showed.

Here are some quick tips for helping those in need during an emergency:
Neighbors helping neighbors in a flood.
Photo By DAVE SAVILLE/ FEMA News Photo

    • Start by making sure that you and your family are prepared. Keep your emergency kits stocked and in a safe, accessible place. Have a plan for where your family will meet and how to contact each other if phones or electricity are down. It will be hard to help others if you are too worried about yourself and your loved ones. 
    • Get to know your neighbors. Learn more about them and spread the word about preparedness. Keep an eye out for those who will be able to assist you in helping those with disabilities, special needs or physical limitations. If there are caretakers or family who visit regularly, be sure to say hello to them as well. You could be a vital lifeline in the event they are not able to visit for several days. 
    • Prepare for company. When creating your emergency kit, add some extras in case you need to take in your neighbors or your in-laws happen to be in town that weekend. That includes food, water, blankets and other necessities, such as toilet paper. Don’t forget entertainment, either. While adults might get by with a deck of cards, kids without TV may need something to stay occupied. Activities that don’t waste batteries and are suitable for groups will work best.
    • Get certified in CPR and first aid. According to the American Heart Association, 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur in the home, but less than a third of Americans are properly prepared to administer CPR. Check with your local American Red Cross chapter or volunteer center for CPR classes.
    • Volunteer with National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, Community Emergency Response Team, Red Cross or other organizations active in emergency response and preparedness. Such groups offer numerous free training opportunities ranging from CPR and basic preparedness to shelter management and urban search and rescue. Commitment levels can also vary based on skills and your availability.
    See our fact sheets on building a stockpile, activities and information for kids, and preparedness tips for people with disabilities to learn more about how you can help your neighbors in a disaster.

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