FEMA Accessible: Tips on How to Return Home Safely after a Disaster





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Published on Oct 4, 2017

Chris Smith, Director of FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program, talks about tips on how to return home safely after a disaster in American Sign Language (ASL).

Closed captioning available in English, Chinese, German, Hindi, Italian, Khmer, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.


Hi, I’m Chris Smith, and I’m the Director of Individual Assistance for FEMA.

After a disaster, we know one of the first things you want to do is to go home and make sure everything is okay. Here are some tips to help you prepare and stay safe.

Wait until local officials tell you it is safe to return home. Before hitting the road, let your family and friends know you are planning to return home. Call or text someone when you are leaving and when you arrive. Text can work when calls do not.

Leave with a full gas tank and consider downloading an app to your smartphone or tablet to check for fuel outages along the home. There may be gas stations that have lost power or may not have fuel available. Before you leave, know which gas stations are open and have fuel.

Pack your car with supplies like water and non-perishable food, because heavy traffic may increase your travel time.

Make sure you continue to charge your cell phone, tablet, or laptop and have backup batteries in case your house still does not have power. It may take a few days, weeks or months for the power to come back on in your neighborhood.

Your neighborhood may have been seriously affected by the disaster, so please be prepared to return to a possibly damaged home. There may be major disruptions to your daily life due to the disaster. Roads you normally take may be blocked with debris. Your kids’ school may be closed because the building is damaged or has no power. Your local grocery store may not have power or enough food after the disaster. It may take a long time before your daily activities start to feel normal again.

Remember that going home before local officials have been able to clear storm debris is dangerous. You should wait until officials say it is safe to go home. Local officials understand the importance of you being able to go back home and they want to make sure you can do that in the safest way possible.

*Published October 4, 2017*

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