The personal and community recovery from an emergency can be a long, painful experience. The information on this page may be useful in helping you and your family through the recovery process.
In the immediate aftermath:
- Contact your loved ones – people may become separated or be concerned about your welfare. Check to see if a telephone hotline has been opened as this will usually be the best way to trace any missing relatives or friends. Find more advice on the role of the Police Casualty Bureau
- Stay safe – Do not enter any areas where an emergency has taken place until the emergency services tell you it is safe to do so
- Find a place to stay – if you can’t return to your property then you may need alternative temporary accommodation. The best option is to stay with friends or family in the local area. However your local authority may open emergency rest centres for those people without alternative accommodation
Beware of new dangers – additional hazards may have been created by the incident, for example:
- If there is debris – check the exterior of the property for cracks, and if any part of the building looks unstable leave immediately. Remember debris can be sharp or dangerous so wear protective clothing and footwear where required
- If you smell gas – open a window if you can and leave the property immediately. Call National Grid (0800 111 999) from a neighbour’s house and remember not to smoke or use any naked flames until you’re sure there is no leaking gas present
- If electrical appliances have been wet - turn off the electricity at the fuse box, allow appliances to dry out and have a qualified professional check them before turning them on
- If your water is discoloured, cloudy or smells - check with your water supply company before drinking or using water to make baby formula or brush your teeth as it may be contaminated
Call your insurance provider – take pictures of any damage which has occurred and keep records of repairs and cleaning costs, as this may help your insurance claim.
Stay healthy – recovery work can be exhausting. Make sure you drink plenty of water, eat well and get enough rest. Also be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water especially if in contact with floodwater, as it may have been contaminated.
Contact the local authority or emergency services if you see any hazards to health and safety, such as damaged power lines, washed out roads, gas leaks, dead animals or chemical releases.
Beware of bogus traders who may take advantage of you - if in doubt contact trading standards via Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.
Looking after yourself and others
- Look for signs of stress – being involved in an emergency can be mentally and emotionally difficult.
- Help others – if you know of friends, family or neighbours who have particular vulnerabilities (either through age, ill health or disability) then consider how you could help them. It might be as simple as contacting their loved ones for them, or ensuring they have food and water.
- Pay particular attention to children as they may feel especially insecure, confused and frightened even if they haven’t been directly involved in an emergency. These reactions can become evident some time after the event.
Longer term issues
Recovering from a major emergency can take many years – you may find it helpful to consider the following aspects of longer term recovery:
- Join support groups – these are often set up by people involved in an incident so that they can share their experiences and feelings. They can be a useful way of dealing with stress, and gaining advice on how to deal with practical issues.
- Mark anniversaries – whilst they can be a difficult time, you might like to consider how you wish to mark the anniversary of an event, either alone or with other people.
- Inquests and trials – as part of the recovery process it is important to understand as much as possible about the incident to prevent it happening again. You may be asked to attend an inquest or a trial. These may seem complicated but you can get lots of advice elsewhere online.