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When Crisis Strikes

When Crisis Strikes

We have all seen the tragedies that have struck a little too close to home. Be they humans' doing or the acts of mother nature, they are jarring at best, in part because they so often feel as though they are beyond our control. While we certainly can't prevent all tragedies, or even predict them, the way we react to such events can be powerfully influential. When crisis strikes, here are some things you can do to help yourself and those around you:

Communicate

It's well-known that communication is vital when tragedy strikes. Most people try automatically to reach out to their closest family members and friends when something goes wrong. However, this can be more difficult than it sounds, as cell lines often become clogged in times of crisis, or may even be shut down by emergency services. The solution to this problem is simple: to reach out to loved ones at times like this, text message them rather than making a call. Texting requires less bandwith than calling, making it a smarter choice for both you and those around you.

Your next concern might be the friends and family members to whom you don't automatically reach out. Updating your social media accounts to let them know where you are and how you're doing is an easy and effective way to reach them. Because social media use has practically become second nature to many, a great deal of people are bound to rush to Facebook and Twitter to ensure that their friends and family are safe.

It may also be wise to watch out for means of contact specifically designed for emergencies. In times of crisis, emergency personnel and non-profits like the Red Cross often create tools to help those affected communicate with others outside the affected area. Such tools can be especially helpful if your access to phones or social networks is limited or cut off. Make sure to register with such services if you are in an impacted area so that others know you are okay.

An example of the value of these means of communication comes from the Boston Marathon bombings, after which phone lines were down, preventing many of those around the site of the attacks from calling loved ones from their cell phones. However, some were able to communicate with friends and family via text message, and many were able to post updates on social networking sites. Additionally, the Boston police were able to use social media to reach out quickly to the masses to help ensure their safety and to search for the perpetrators.

Provide Housing

In times of crisis, you may be able to help by offering those affected a place to stay. Be it a blizzard that causes power outages in colder winter months or a man-made event resulting in inaccessible roads or unsafe streets, many disasters can displace people from their homes, even if only for a little while. By offering yours to those in these situations, you can make a powerful impact, even if only to a few people.

Offer Power

If you have power during and following an emergency, consider sharing your electricity. While many may not immediately think to do this, providing electricity to those affected by a disaster can be extremely helpful to them, largely to those who may need to charge devices they intend to use to contact loved ones or to keep track on the latest news regarding their situation.

Those living in the wake of Hurricane Sandy provide a great example of supplying power to those who were treated less kindly by the storm. New York residents who still had electricity following the storm placed extension cords and power strips on the streets from their windows, allowing those who had lost power to charge their devices and proving a great aid to them.

Donate

While power can be helpful in times of emergency, there are other, more basic and vital things that those affected by disasters so often need. Since injuries tend to go hand-in-hand with crisis, donating blood is an important way to help hospitals ensure the recovery of those who have been hurt. You can also consider donating money to aid those who have been displaced or are in need of housing or basic supplies. Alternatively, shelters and relief agencies often provide lists of needed supplies that you can donate to help speed the relief effort.

Record Evidence

Should you find yourself on the scene of a man-made disaster, you may also be able to help by gathering evidence. By using your devices to take photos or video footage of your surroundings around the time of a crisis, you gather potential evidence that can be used in the effort to identify any perpetrators. A mere picture on your cell phone may be able to protect others' safety and bring justice to attackers.

The benefits of documenting the scene of a disaster are powerfully illustrated by the aftermath of the Boston Marathon attacks. Following the bombings, a large effort to identify the perpetrators succeeded through use of photographic evidence provided by casual Marathon attendees. Without this participation from the crowd, the endeavor to identity the bombers might have taken much longer, potentially allowing the bombers to pursue plans for further attacks and endanger the safety of many more people.

It is evident, especially in a society in which technology is ubiquitous, that the power of each individual to help both themselves and others in times of crisis is enormous. No matter how trivial your contribution may seem, there is always something you can do to help.

About the Author -
NotePage, Inc. develops SMS, alphanumeric paging and wireless messaging software solutions. http://www.notepage.net

 

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