A wildfire can be stressful, not only for those directly affected through evacuations and loss, but to many just seeing the fire rip through landmarks, homes and in many ways, life as they knew it. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has some tips to help communities get through the trying times.
Amongst the ways to cope, preventing additional tragedy by driving safely and looking out for broken traffic lights or missing signs is important. Debris in the road can cause additional risks to drivers who are not using extra caution. Re-entry of damaged structures should be done in the daytime so you can more easily avoid any hazards. The CDS also recommends that when cleaning up proper safety equipment is used to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, electrical or other hazards.
Feeling of loss may be similar to those who lose a family member for those who have lost their home and/or pet(s) as a result of a fire. Feelings vary and most will go through a mourning process feeling sadness, anger, guilt or maybe even numbness. Some may have sleepless nights or anxious about what may seem like impending dangers.
Certain things may bring back the memories, leading to overwhelming grief for some. Coping with these feelings may be difficult but the CDC has offered advice to help. Staying active, including volunteering may help keep your mind off the loss or anxiety. Cleaning up and repairing when it is safe to do so may also be a step in the right direction. Being around others and participating in activities that you enjoy is also important to healing. Exercising, talking about your feelings and keeping a journal may also help those having problems coping.
Therapy for some may be necessary after a tragedy, talking to a psychologist, social worker or counselor may help if you are having problems managing your feelings, completing daily tasks or caring for yourself and/or your family.
For additional information on how to prevent injuries go to Fact Sheet: Prevent Injury after a Disaster or call 1-800-CDC- INFO.
For coping with stress, use the numbers below for help:
- American Psychological Association 1-800-964-2000
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
- National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (422-4453)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 1-877-726-4727
- National Child Traumatic Stress Network
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