How To Guide Your Family Through A Natural Disaster

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Sometimes it feels that everywhere you look, you see evidence of natural disasters. As climate change takes hold, we are seeing more and more of the effects of extreme weather cycles in our communities, impacting people’s homes, businesses and livelihoods. From dangerous flash flooding to the Forest fires which didn’t discriminate between rich and poor and even hit the homes of many A-list celebrities to earthquakes and drought, it’s getting increasingly likely that you may get caught up in an environmental catastrophe at some point. So, if disaster does strike, how do you cope with the after effects and remain strong for the sake of your family?

Recognize The Scale Of What Happened

After something so raw and immediate has come out of nowhere and turned your life upside down, you’ll find that people respond in very different ways. Some cope by focusing on the practicalities of the situation – honing in on the details of getting back to normal, such as chasing up insurance payments or working with professionals like SERVPRO to make the home habitable again, without seeming to process the emotional side of what has happened. Others may become stressed, anxious, extremely tired or simply feel numb, while a few turn to things like alcohol or gambling in a misplaced attempt to move past the trauma. It’s important to accept that everyone deals with extreme situations differently, and that you may find yourself at the opposite end of the spectrum from family members or your partner. Coming together with your local community is so important at these times as a way to seek support and to help you process the change that has taken place, and of course it is exactly at times like these that faith is our most important asset. However, our prayers can also be severely tested during devastating events, and it’s okay to explore these feelings within your church or with close friends. Watch out for stress becoming too much to cope with and don’t be afraid to ask for extra support when you’re vulnerable.

Getting Slowly Back To Normal

It’s a natural feeling to want to be able to return home and resume normal life as soon as possible, but it’s vital to make sure you follow the advice of the emergency services when returning home, to keep you and your family safe. When you are able to get back to your home, there may be a few steps you need to take immediately to secure your home and contents insurance and prevent further loss. These can be actions like securing entrances to the property and boarding up broken windows or putting tarpaulin over a damaged roof to prevent water damage. It’s also important to speak with your insurer before giving the go-ahead to major repair work on your building, as you will need to be sure the works are fully covered and approved by your policy. Remember to keep evidence to loss or damage of property as well with photographs, recording or a written log. This becomes useful evidence to support the claim you will be making, and you could also include physical evidence such as fabric samples. Beginning to put together a household inventory of what has been lost is also a helpful thing to do if you can. It can help to speed up a claim if you include as much detail as you can, such as makes, models and serial numbers if you have this information.

Communicate With Your Children

One thing you mustn’t forget is to communicate with your children properly, even in the midst of all the chaos, uncertainty and the huge clean-up job which needs to be done. Hopefully you will have created an emergency plan and discussed with your children ahead of time to help them act quickly and calmly. If you didn’t, then try to manage the trauma they’re experiencing as much as possible. Try to give as much verbal and physical reassurance as you can, telling them that they’re safe now and emphasizing that you are all together and there to look out for each other. It’s important to give children the chance to express their feelings when something traumatic has happened rather than shutting it away. Try to identify tools that will help them process what has happened – it could be praying together, meeting with others who have been through the same experience and in some cases, counseling may be needed. With time and patience, you can make your children feel secure again.

This is a contributed post.

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