I was devastated when I learned about the outbreak of the King Fire and the mind blowing increase in size. I grew up in Pollock Pines and Placerville, CA, so all of the areas that are burning are my childhood stomping grounds. Some of the shelters that housed local residents were located in local schools…schools that I attended.
My little brother and his family were on a “standby evacuation” list and diligently attending information meetings held by local government agencies to give updates on the fire…
Thinking about your friends, family, and places that you hold near and dear to your heart during a time like this can be overwhelmingly difficult. You feel helpless, so you keep watching the news reports, looking for online reports, and reading Facebook pages.
But sometimes the healthiest thing you can do for yourself and your affected family members is to take a step back. A few things that our Disaster Mental Health folks recommend include:
Limit your exposure to the sights and sounds of disaster, especially on television, the radio and in the newspapers.
Eat healthy. During times of stress, it is important that you maintain a balanced diet and drink plenty of water.
Get some rest. With so much to do, it may be difficult to have enough time to rest or get adequate sleep. Giving your body and mind a break can boost your ability to cope with the stress you may be experiencing.
Stay connected with family and friends. Giving and getting support is one of the most important things you can do. Try to do something as a family that you have all enjoyed in the past.
This is really hard – with the number of fires I’ve responded to during my Red Cross career – this is the one that hits closest to my heart. I want all of my friends and family to be safe, but I also recognize that I can drive myself into a useless frenzy if I overload myself with information.
And remember, regardless of whether you are in the affected disaster area or not, help is available to you.
To reach out for free 24/7 counseling or support, contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs’ to 66746.
If you have friends or family who are in the affected are or are concerned about those in any of the active wildfire areas in California, Oregon, and Washington, share this information with them. You can always visit our website for additional tips on handling an emotional circumstance.