Coping Emotionally after a Wildfire

Article Written by:
Janean Creighton, Oregon State University Extension, Corvallis, OR



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Coping with the aftermath of any disaster can take an emotional toll on those who experience it. Understanding the events of a disaster and recognizing disaster-related stress is the first step towards coping and recovery. Both the Red Cross and FEMA provide Web sites with advice and suggestions for recovering emotionally after a wildfire. Here are some ways to ease disaster-related stress:

  • Talk with someone about your feelings – anger, sorrow, and other emotions – even though it may be difficult.
  • Seek help from professional counselors who deal with post-disaster stress.
  • Do not hold yourself responsible for the disastrous event or be frustrated because you feel you cannot help directly in the rescue work.
  • Take steps to promote your own physical and emotional healing by healthy eating, rest, exercise, relaxation and meditation.
  • Maintain a normal family and daily routine, limiting demanding responsibilities on yourself and your family.
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Participate in memorials.
  • Use existing support groups of family, friends and religious institutions.
  • Ensure you are ready for future events by restocking your disaster supplies kits and updating your family disaster plan. Doing these positive actions can be comforting.
  • Get rest and drink plenty of water.
  • Limit your exposure to the sights and sounds of disaster, especially on television, the radio and in the newspapers.
  • Focus on the positive.
  • Recognize your own feelings.
  • Reach out and accept help from others.
  • Do something you enjoy. Do something as a family that you have all enjoyed in the past.
  • Realize that, sometimes, recovery can take time.

To find someone to speak with contact your local Red Cross chapter or community mental health professional.