It can feel like this year is a constant state of emergency sometimes. With COVID a constant threat and wildfires raging on the West Coast, many people are looking for ways to help. Depending on the situation, you may have a tough time figuring out what’s really needed and where. We thought we’d come up with a general list of ideas to help your community during an emergency.
Don’t Make Problems Worse
It’s tough to stand by and watch bad things happen. However, your average citizen may not understand the specifics of how emergency services handle a situation. If they’ve been notified of a problem and have asked people to stay away, listen. Otherwise, you may end up adding to their load when you have to be rescued or helped, too.
Stay Informed & Help Others Stay Informed
Similar to the last point, make sure you have access to the right information and ensure that others do too. If you hear rumors or disinformation spreading during an emergency, try to communicate what officials are actually saying.
Ask About What’s Needed
It’s not always helpful to show up to an evacuation site with supplies you think they’ll need. These places have limited space, and they often receive too much of a certain supply (like bottled water) and have to stop accepting donations. They should be able to redirect you to another place that could use them, though.
Offer Your Time
It might be easier to drop off supplies, but sometimes what’s needed in an emergency is an extra set of hands. If you have a particular skill that might be useful, this can be particularly useful.
Depending on the type of emergency, there might be an increased need for lifesaving blood donations. Each person’s donations can save up to 3 peoples’ lives!
Check With Local Religious Organizations
Religious organizations are often part of local relief efforts. You don’t need to be affiliated with them to call them up to check if you can help in some way. You may be able to donate items and food or help deliver them to those in need.
Offer to Help Neighbors
Every family struggles with different issues when there’s an emergency. Check in with your neighbors to see if there’s anything you can provide to help them through. You might be able to help care for a pet or share necessary items.
Donate to Relief Efforts
For many emergencies, there are long term consequences that will require help in the long run. People may be displaced and families might be struggling. Consider donating to organizations that are helping people get by.
Consider joining a Community Emergency Response Team
These government run programs help you get trained on basic disaster response skills so that you know how best to help. You can also get CPR or Wilderness First Responder certified.
Check In with Those Who Might Need Extra Help
In emergency evacuations, those who need extra time to leave an area are often warned to evacuate earlier so that they have enough time. If your area is at risk, check in with anyone you know who could use some help.