One of the most difficult parts of being an adult is realizing that bad things do happen. When I was a child occasionally adults would recall where they were when President Kennedy got shot. Sadly, since September 11th and other tragic events have happened many of us have now joined that club. The one where you know what you were doing and where you were when a tragedy happened. No matter how many times you watch tragedy unfold around you, it never gets easier. So the question becomes how can we truly help others when tragedy strikes? What can we do if there is a terrorist attack, a mass shooting or a natural disaster? As Mr. Roger’s mother told him “Always look for the helpers. There will always be helpers”. So how do you help others in an emergency situation?
1. Stay Away from the Scene
Unless you are a trained first responder or have been specifically called to the scene you should stay away so that police, fire, paramedics and government officials can get to the scene and help others.
There can also be lack of lodging or food in the area where the event occurred. If you rush to the scene and you don’t have training you can just get in the way or injured. There may be hazards like down power lines, fire, debris or disease.
2. Donate Blood
I know so many of us feel paralyzed after a tragic event occurs, but one of the best ways to help is to donate blood if you are able. Even if they cannot use it for the victims of the tragedy it will never go to waste. If you are wondering where to donate check out these sites.
3. Donate Money
It feels good to purchase supplies for those in need after a tragedy, but those supplies can often overwhelm the people responding to the disaster. They may not have anywhere to put the supplies or have anyone who can inspect or sort random donations that arrive. That is why it is better to donate money if you can so that charitable and government agencies can purchased what they need most and distribute it.
4. Show Support
Another way to help is to show support for those people who are responding to the event. Leave a message online or send a note to their headquarters to let them know you are thinking of them.
Before disaster strikes you can get involved in your favorite charity organization. Learn how you can help when the worst occurs. Get trained to help out in an emergency so that you can really go and help if the need arises. Even if you can’t go to the scene, you may be able to help in other ways locally.
6. Talk to your children
If you have children one of the best ways that you can help if a tragedy occurs is to talk to them about it. Last year after a mass shooting in our home town, my daughter had anxiety after my husband was locked down at his work. Children need to be able to talk about their feelings and understand the impact of tragedy in their world. Be sure to meet your child at their age level and don’t overshare with them. Listening and letting them ask questions is a great way to start. Sesame Street has some great tools for talking about emergencies with children.
As the one year anniversary of 1 October nears in my adopted home town of Las Vegas, we remember those that were lost on that tragic night. We also remember so many more who helped save others and provided for their well being. If you have been through a traumatic situation big or small and you are struggling please reach out. You are not alone.