Health Topics

Disasters

Coping with Disasters
National Library of Medicine

No matter how well you have prepared, you might feel dazed or numb after going through a disaster. You may also feel sad, helpless, or anxious. In spite of the tragedy, you might just feel happy to be alive.

It is not unusual to have bad memories or dreams. You may avoid places or people that remind you of the disaster. You might have trouble sleeping, eating, or paying attention. Many people have short tempers and get angry easily. These are all normal reactions to stress.

Sometimes the stress can be too much to handle alone. Some people have long-term problems after a disaster, including

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression
  • Self-blame
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

If your emotional reactions are getting in the way of your relationships, work, or other important activities, talk to a counselor or your doctor. Treatments are available.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Disasters
Adaptation, Psychological
Mental Health and Behavior
Disasters
No matter how well you have prepared, you might feel dazed or numb after going through a disaster. You may also feel sad, helpless, or anxious. In spite ...
Disaster Preparation and Recovery
National Library of Medicine
Emergency Preparedness

Preparing for a disaster can reduce the fear, anxiety and losses that disasters cause. A disaster can be a natural disaster, like a hurricane, tornado, flood or earthquake. It might also be man-made, like a bioterrorist attack or chemical spill. You should know the risks and danger signs of different types of disasters. You should also have a disaster plan. Be ready to evacuate your home, and know how to treat basic medical problems. Make sure you have the insurance you need, including special types, like flood insurance.

No matter what kind of disaster you experience, it causes emotional distress. After a disaster, recovery can take time. Stay connected to your family and friends during this period.

Federal Emergency Management Agency


Rescue Work
Disasters
Disaster Victims
Disaster Planning
Relief Work
Disasters
Preparing for a disaster can reduce the fear, anxiety and losses that disasters cause. A disaster can be a natural disaster, like a hurricane, tornado, flood or ...
Chemical Emergencies
National Library of Medicine
Chemical Warfare
Chemical Weapons
Man-Made Disasters

When a hazardous chemical has been released, it may harm people's health. Chemical releases can be unintentional, as in the case of an industrial accident. They could also be planned, as in the case of a terrorist attack with a chemical weapon.

Some hazardous chemicals have been developed by military organizations for use in warfare. Examples are nerve agents such as sarin and VX. Many hazardous chemicals are used in industry - for example, chlorine, ammonia, and benzene. Some can be made from everyday items such as household cleaners.

Although there are no guarantees of safety during a chemical emergency, you can take actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may need help in finding ways to cope.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Chemical Terrorism
Chemical Warfare
Chemical Warfare Agents
Disasters
... actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may ...
Earthquakes
National Library of Medicine
Natural Disasters

An earthquake happens when two blocks of the earth suddenly slip past one another. Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently, and without warning at any time of the day or night. If an earthquake occurs in a populated area, it may cause property damage, injuries, and even deaths. If you live in a coastal area, there is the possibility of a tsunami. Damage from earthquakes can also lead to floods or fires.

Although there are no guarantees of safety during an earthquake, you can take actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may need help in finding ways to cope.

Federal Emergency Management Agency


Earthquakes
Disasters
... actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may ...
Floods
National Library of Medicine
Natural Disasters

Floods are common in the United States. Weather such as heavy rain, thunderstorms, hurricanes, or tsunamis can cause flooding. Flooding can also happen when a river or stream overflows its bank, when a levee is breached, or when a dam breaks. Flash floods, which can develop quickly, often have a dangerous wall of roaring water. The wall carries rocks, mud, and rubble and can sweep away most things in its path.

Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live, but especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Although there are no guarantees of safety during a flood, you can take actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may need help in finding ways to cope.

Federal Emergency Management Agency


Floods
Disasters
... actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may ...
Hurricanes
National Library of Medicine
Natural Disasters
Cyclones
Typhoons

A hurricane is a severe type of tropical storm. Hurricanes produce high winds, heavy rains and thunderstorms. Hurricanes can cause tremendous damage. Winds can exceed 155 miles per hour. Hurricanes and tropical storms can also spawn tornadoes and lead to flooding. The high winds and heavy rains can destroy buildings, roads and bridges, and knock down power lines and trees. In coastal areas, very high tides called storm surges cause extensive damage.

Although there are no guarantees of safety during a hurricane, you can take actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may need help in finding ways to cope.

Federal Emergency Management Agency


Cyclonic Storms
Disasters
... actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may ...
Radiation Emergencies
National Library of Medicine
Man-Made Disasters

Radiation is a type of energy. People are exposed to small amounts of radiation every day from sources such as sunlight. A radiation emergency would involve larger amounts of radiation and could be caused by

  • Dirty bombs - a mix of explosives with radioactive powder
  • Fallout from a nuclear bomb
  • Accidental release from a nuclear reactor or a nuclear weapons plant

A lot of radiation over a short period can cause burns or radiation sickness. If the exposure is large enough, it can cause premature aging or even death.

Although there are no guarantees of safety during a radiation emergency, you can take actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may need help in finding ways to cope.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Radioactive Hazard Release
Disasters
... actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may ...
Tornadoes
National Library of Medicine
Natural Disasters

Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms. They are rotating, funnel-shaped clouds that extend from a thunderstorm to the ground. Their whirling winds can reach 300 miles per hour. They can strike quickly with little or no warning, devastate a neighborhood in seconds, and leave a path of damage over a mile wide and 50 miles long. Tornadoes can also accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.

Although there are no guarantees of safety during a tornado, you can take actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may need help in finding ways to cope.

Federal Emergency Management Agency


Tornadoes
Disasters
... actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may ...
Tsunamis
National Library of Medicine
Natural Disasters

A tsunami is a series of huge ocean waves created by an underwater disturbance. Causes include earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, or meteorites--chunks of rock from space that strike the surface of Earth. A tsunami can move hundreds of miles per hour in the open ocean. It can smash into land with waves as high as 100 feet or more and cause devastating floods. Drowning is the most common cause of death related to a tsunami.

Although there are no guarantees of safety during a tsunami, you can take actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may need help in finding ways to cope.

Federal Emergency Management Agency


Tsunamis
Disasters
... actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may ...
Volcanoes
National Library of Medicine
Natural Disasters

A volcano is a vent in the Earth's crust. Hot rock, steam, poisonous gases, and ash reach the Earth's surface when a volcano erupts. An eruption can also cause earthquakes, mudflows and flash floods, rock falls and landslides, acid rain, fires, and even tsunamis.

Volcanic gas and ash can damage the lungs of small infants, older adults, and people with severe respiratory illnesses. Volcanic ash can affect people hundreds of miles away from the eruption.

Although there are no guarantees of safety during a volcanic eruption, you can take actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may need help in finding ways to cope.

Federal Emergency Management Agency


Volcanic Eruptions
Disasters
... actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may ...