Disaster Psychology

family emergency plan


Following a disaster you’ll be very busy taking care of your immediate needs. As the shock wears off, you may find yourself thinking and behaving in ways that are troubling to you. Generally, these feelings don’t last long. But it’s common to feel resentful. Some feelings or emotional responses may not appear until weeks or even months after the disaster. Here are a few ways to help reduce stress after a disaster.

Listen To Others Carefully

Everyone experiences and processes a disaster differently. Listen to what others are saying so you can understand what’s important to them at a particular moment.

Stay In Control

Some things you can control and others you can’t. You can control your own reactions, so don’t get angry, or become aggressive, and don’t blame others. Your attitude should be, "We’ll get through this if we work together."

Get Updates On What's Happening

Your Family Emergency Plan should include multiple ways of getting information updates. Check our Emergency Status Page, Twitter, or call the TCEP Hotline at (310) 455-3000 for the latest info.

Take Some Time Off

Find a place where you can get away from the chaos for a little while and relax. You don’t have to solve all the problems right away.

Take Care Of Yourself

If you are freaking out, you won’t be of much help to your family or neighbors. Stay hydrated and eat regularly. This will help you think more clearly.

Rebuild Relationships

Keep your loved ones together and put aside petty differences. Talk and try to have some fun with those you love and cherish.

Seek Professional Help

If you or a loved one cannot cope on your own, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health offers support services for adults, children and families. Call their 24/7 help line at 800-854-7771.

Slow Down

Take a deep breath, look around, and take your time before acting.


Small children require special attention. They may become clingy, refuse to sleep alone, and become unusually upset by small things. Take extra time to understand what your child is thinking and provide love, support and reassurance. Reestablish routines such as meals, bedtime, and playing with familiar toys as soon as possible.

Older children are more capable of understanding what happened, but don’t expect them to be miniature adults. Adolescents are often very helpful during a disaster but display more difficult behavior after the immediate crisis has passed.

They may have physical complaints or be sad, restless, defiant, or withdrawn. Talk to them. Determine what would make their world organized again and help them get there.