Find where to get help after a disaster –
before they strike.
Disasters strike at inopportune moments
No time is a good time for a disaster. We can’t prepare for all that life throws at us. But we can have a plan in place of where and when to go should a disaster touch down and we need to call on the services of an emergency shelter.
Federal emergency shelters are life-saving refuges in tense times. However not all disasters will warrant an emergency shelter. In fact, there are some critical first steps to walk through before the decision to pursue a shelter, so keep reading. Even if you never need a federal shelter, it’s still good to know where they are.
Let’s face it – we’ve all got 5 minutes to spare for something as important as this.
To get started finding your local shelters follow the three P’s – Pinpoint, Print, and Post.
What to Expect at an Emergency Shelter
Making the decision to seek an emergency shelter in stressful times like a disaster can be difficult. Nobody elects to use these services. We’re forced, so it is helpful to know what awaits in most circumstances.
Most provide the following:
A safe place to sleep
- Food and water
First-aid and help with daily medical needs
Assistance in reconnecting with loved ones
The latest information and news
Finding services and local resources
Additional services may include:
Mental health services
Help refilling lost prescriptions
Caseworkers to help during recovery
When Should I Go to a Shelter?
Once a disaster occurs, check to see if the shelters near your home are open before venturing out. Use the “Find an Open Shelter” from the Red Cross, along with a host of other resources to help guide you though the situation. Next, gauge the situation to determine whether sheltering in-place or at-home is a safer option. Not all disasters will warrant the need to leave where you are.
When an open shelter is not available:
Staying at Home
If you can manage the disaster safely at home, do so. It is important to remain safe, and limit your exposure to the outside until you hear it’s safe. When the conditions permit, do try and get out for light exercise while sheltering. Disasters can be quite stressful, so make sure to get some fresh air to keep your spirits healthy.
Take note of the essential services you will need during a disaster. Namely, the grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations. Everyone will be taking note of the same, so be sure to have more than one option registered for each. Consider updating or making a Go-bag for your home, work and car in case of travel delays or if you need to evacuate completely. If an evacuation is announced always follow the instructions of safety personnel.
Lastly, limit visitors. Frequent movement can put folks in danger. When services are available let your fingers do the walking to check on store availability and resource levels. But, keep in mind they might be very busy. Keep trying until you receive news indicating otherwise.
If you ever conclude that you’ll need a mass care shelter, it’s imperative to know the closest ones to your home and place of work. Remember, print this helpful information out and keep them accessible. Share with friends and family and encourage them to do the same. This is just one more tool in your toolbox to help empower users for disasters and emergencies.