Be prepared to deal with the unexpected

No one knows when an emergency will strike. A quarter (24%) of Welsh adults think they will be affected by a major emergency, but more than two thirds (70%) admit nobody in their household has taken steps to prepare. Yet the effects of a crisis can be devastating, far reaching and life changing.

Drawing on a survey of 5,000 UK adults, and insights from those with direct experience of major incidents and emergencies, The Red Cross has recently published its  ‘Ready for Anything’ report which looks in depth at what people expect and need before, during and after a crisis hits. It explores what works well and where people’s needs are not being met at the moment.

The Red Cross spoke to people with experiences of incidents such as house fires and local floods through to terror attacks and found that needs can be highly individualised and influenced by many factors. For example, 31% of Welsh adults would want support finding family members they had become separated from following a bomb threat or terror attack. At the same time more younger people say they would want emotional support than older people with 26% of those aged 18-24 compared with 14% of those over 65.

The report identifies four themes of need that are important:

  • Immediate practical needs: this includes food, shelter and medication, plus the need for privacy and to feel safe.
  • Mental health and psychosocial support: practical and emotional support is a hugely significant factor in the early stages of recovery. These psychological needs should be treated as equal to a person’s physical health. This includes an empathetic need to be given time to reflect and to tell their story, to make sense of what happened and to feel in control of what happens next.
  • Information and communication: this includes the need for leadership and organisation, for accurate, accessible and timely information, and the ability to contact and communicate with family and friends.
  • Advice, support and advocacy: most people affected by an emergency will need some help with navigating systems, such as accessing legal aid or dealing with insurance claims - it is important that this help is both co-ordinated and consistent. Critically, support must empower those affected to take control of their own recovery. It must also provide a platform or voice for victims’ and affected communities’ needs.
    While we can never fully mitigate all the negative impacts of a major incident, Red Cross state that we can ensure our communities, families and friends are more resilient, better prepared and support each other when it happens.
    Their free Emergency app can help you deal with emergencies, so you’ll know exactly what to do if disaster strikes.
    The app is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play. It allows you to: set up emergency alerts for your area, including severe weather warnings, and to add the location of family and friends, so you’ll be able to let them know if a warning is issued for their area or when an emergency strikes, and check they’re safe. It also enable you to check the current UK terrorism threat level.
    In addition to alerts, the app also features: a personal alarm and strobe light to attract attention in emergencies; a location finder, so you’ll always know exactly where you are; an ‘I’m safe’ notification that can be sent to your friends and family, and clear and practical advice on what to do in a variety of emergency situations.
    Emergency situations can be stressful, dangerous and upsetting. But if you’re prepared, anyone can deal with the unexpected.