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Smart Ways to Lend a Hand in the Aftermath of a Natural Disaster

Emergency workers with food and water.

Leading medical centers, including Johns Hopkins, have emergency personnel trained to respond to disaster anywhere – not just their hometowns.

But the first thing a member of the “Go Team” at Johns Hopkins will say is that those who aren’t rescue workers can do the most good by staying put.

If you're interested in helping those in need in the aftermath of a natural disaster, here’s what Johns Hopkins experts recommend.

DO:

Contribute monetary donations as that is what many reputable disaster-relief organizations prefer.

Why: Funding relief efforts gives teams on the ground the ability to use financial resources in the most appropriate manner for what the area specifically needs.  

DON’T:

Send clothes or other specific supplies, unless specifically requested by a reputable disaster-relief organization.

Why: Such items often don’t meet the needs of people in the affected area – there may be too much of one thing, not enough of another. Plus, on-site responders then need to sort to sort through the gifts, potentially keeping teams from other much-needed efforts.   

DO:

Sign up through professional, civic and community organizations for authorized volunteer efforts.

Why: By registering with an organization, your skills can be called upon at the right time, and you can be given meaningful assignments that will have real impact on those affected. Additionally, these organizations can help make arrangements for travel and lodging for teams, so that burden does not fall on resources already trying to help displaced victims of the disaster.   

DON’T:

Head to the affected area on your own in hopes of helping – even if you have valuable expertise. 

Why: You may be a great EMT, electrician, builder or nurse. But if you arrive alone, without direction or a specific mission, you’ll be one more person for first responders and teams with mandates to have to take care of.  

DO:

Follow accurate and reliable news sources. Avoid spreading unverified information.

Why: During times of crisis, information changes rapidly and media outlets can tend to report news fast. Trusted information can often be verified by officials or expert sources or when it is heard from multiple media outlets.  

DON’T:

Trust everything you see or hear (especially on the internet, or spread rumors.

Why: The internet is full of information, some articles may be well informed and others may not be. It’s important to read or listen to a few trustworthy articles to ensure you are getting the most up-to-date news.

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