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We live in a world that is full of hazards from natural disasters, such as flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes. Experiencing a natural disaster can be traumatizing—both physically and mentally.

Though we can’t usually control natural disasters, we can do a number of things to improve the way we react to them. Consider these ideas:

  • Gain knowledge – If you know what to expect when a disaster strikes, you’ll be better prepared to deal with its effects. For example, if your home is located in a flood-prone area, you can learn in advance how to safely retrieve your belongings from floodwaters. Trauma is often caused by the surprise element of a disaster. You can downgrade the shock factor if you take time to learn about different eventualities.
  • Meet emergency response personnel – Find out more about the emergency response teams in your area. If you have children, consider taking them for a visit to the local fire station. You can have greater peace of mind before and during times of disaster when you know that you can trust response personnel.
  • Get involved in the community – Having a good relationship with the people in your community will help you cope with the effects of a natural disaster. Get to know your neighbors so you will feel comfortable asking for help—and giving help—when catastrophe strikes. In the aftermath, you will benefit from the emotional and physical support of neighbors and other community members. You can lend a hand and buoy each other up.
  • Prepare supplies – Preparing emergency kits to ensure your subsistence will lessen the trauma of a disaster. Have a 72-hour kit at the ready with food, water, a change of clothing, first aid kit, and more. This can help tide you over until you can replenish your supplies.
  • Plan for transportation – Having access to transportation in the event of a disaster can improve your situation and emotional well-being. Always keep gas in your tank if you have a car. If you don’t, reach out to neighbors who can get you where you need to go when emergencies strike.

Everyone suffers when disasters hit, but you can increase your ability to bounce back by being prepared.