Step 7: Reconnect and Recover
Restore daily life by reconnecting with others, repairing damage, and rebuilding community.
After the immediate threat of the earthquake has passed, your level of preparedness will determine your quality of life in the weeks and months that follow. You, your family, friends and neighbors can come together to start the process of recovery.
Once you have met your and your family's immediate needs after an earthquake, continue to follow the plan you prepared in advance. Aftershocks will continue to happen for several weeks after major earthquakes. Some may be large enough to cause additional damage. Always be ready to drop, cover, and hold on.
Following a major disaster, communication will be an important step in your recovery efforts. Turn on your portable radio for information and safety advisories. If your home is damaged, contact your insurance agent right away to begin your claims process. For most Presidentially declared disasters, resources will also be available from federal, state, and local government agencies.
Your recovery period can take several weeks to months or longer. Take the actions listed below to be safe and to minimize the long-term effects of the earthquake on your life.
The first days after the earthquake...
Use the information you put together in your disaster plan and the supplies you organized in your disaster kits. Until you are sure there are no gas leaks, do not use open flames (lighters, matches, candles, or grills) or operate any electrical or mechanical device that can create a spark (light switches, generators, motor vehicles, etc.). Never use the following indoors: camp stoves, gas lanterns or heaters, gas or charcoal grills, or gas generators. These can release deadly carbon monoxide or be a fire hazard in aftershocks.
Be in communication
Food and water
The first weeks after the earthquake...
This is a time of transition. Although aftershocks may continue, you will now work toward getting your life, your home and family, and your routines back in order. Emotional care and recovery are just as important as healing physical injuries and rebuilding a home. Make sure your home is safe to occupy and not in danger of collapse in aftershocks. If you were able to remain in your home or return to it after a few days, you will have a variety of tasks to accomplish:
If you cannot stay in your home...
If your home is structurally unsafe or threatened by a fire or other hazard, you need to evacuate. However, shelters may be overcrowded and initially lack basic services, so do not leave home just because utilities are out of service or your home and its contents have suffered moderate damage. If you evacuate, tell a neighbor and your out-of-area contact where you are going. As soon as possible, set up an alternative mailing address with the post office.
Take the following, if possible, when you evacuate:
Do not take to a shelter:
Once a Presidential Declaration has been issues, FEMA may activate the Individuals and Households Program (www.fema.gov/about/process). This program includes:
Once you have recovered from the earthquake...
Go back to Step 1 and do the things you did not do before, or do them more thoroughly. Learn from what happened during the earthquake so you will be safer and recover more quickly next time.