How to Be Ready for Anything

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Canadian communities are not immune to natural hazards. This is proven in the 2019 extraordinary spring in Alberta where 644 wildfires were reported, and in the rain and flooding that struck southwestern B.C. in 2021.

The Salvation Army has provided emergency disaster services since the 1917 Halifax Explosion. Each year, The Salvation Army encourages Canadians to prepare for potential hazards and provides practical advice about actions that can help individuals and families be less vulnerable.

Q: Define a disaster or natural hazard?

A: A hazard is a potentially damaging physical event, phenomenon or human activity that may cause the loss of life or injury, property damage, social and economic disruption, or environmental degradation. It may be triggered by a naturally occurring phenomenon which has its origins within the geophysical or biological environment or by human action or error, whether malicious or unintentional, including technological failures, accidents and terrorist acts.

A disaster is essentially a social phenomenon that results when a hazard intersects with a vulnerable community in a way that exceeds or overwhelms the community’s ability to cope and may cause serious harm to the safety, health, welfare, property or environment of people.

Q: How does self-care prepare you to deal with a crisis?

A: Disasters or other traumatic events happen and can be very challenging.

In such context, sources of stress are multiple: witnessing the event, evacuation from your home, risk of personal harm, lack of communication, need to take quick action and make important decisions, and possible separation from family. Taking care of yourself is critical for you and your family to stay well and to face the situation with calm. Self-care helps manage stress and illness, both in the present and for the future. This is why The Salvation Army encourages individuals to use the Self-care preparedness guide to include self-care in their emergency preparedness.

Q: What is a self-care preparedness guide?

A: As part of its emotional and spiritual program, The Salvation Army developed a self-care preparedness guide to help increase psychosocial resilience of individuals facing disasters or traumatic events.

This guide includes three steps:

  • Know your emotional and spiritual needs
  • Have a self-care plan
  • Make a self-care kit

Q: What is the difference between a selfcare plan and a selfcare kit?

A: The self-care plan helps individuals to identify their personal strategies to take care of their own well being. It covers six areas of self-care: Emotions, body, mind, Spirit, home and workplace. The plan suggests different steps to develop self-care strategies for every day and for disaster situations.

A self-care kit is an integral part of your self-care plan. It can be a small box or bag in which you include tangible items that help you to relax and cope with stress. The Salvation Army developed the idea of a  self-care kit based on the fives senses. In addition to the self-care plan, we encourage people to add in their self-care kit something they like to touch, something they like to taste, something they like to smell, something they like to see, something they like to hear.

Q: Is emotional and spiritual care part of selfcare?

A: Self-care is part of a whole integrated Emotional and Spiritual Care Strategy based on a holistic approach to care. Being an organization that provides Emotional and Spiritual Care in the aftermath of disasters or traumatic events, The Salvation army understands that a good self-care plan helps increasing individual preparedness and resilience.

Q: Why does The Salvation Army include emotional and spiritual care in their disaster services?

A: In Canada, Emotional and spiritual care in disaster is in fact a long-standing Salvation Army service dating back to the First World War. At that time, The Salvation Army was providing rest and relaxation for the Canadian troops, trying to maintain their moral and offer them “a ‘touch of home”.  Today, The Salvation Army’s Emergency Services keeps strengthening its contribution in the field of front-line emotional, spiritual and psychosocial support by providing hope to survivors, volunteers and first responders.

Q: What does emotional and spiritual care look like?

A: The Salvation Army’s Holistic Emotional and Spiritual care program includes five components: prepare, care, recover, refer and peer support. It is an integrated service continuum that aims to reduce the effects of stress related to traumatic events and disasters. Based on the best practices regarding psychological first aid and peer support, the Holistic Emotional and Spiritual care program is specifically designed to :

  • Protect EDS volunteers and personnel by preparing them to be deployed in stressful environment in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event or disaster.
  • Provide support to individuals affected by traumatic events and disasters.
  • Integrate referral mechanisms.
  • Support EDS volunteers and personnel when returning home after a deployment.

Q: How can I get involved in The Salvation Army’s emergency disaster services program?

A: The Salvation Army offers different services to support communities affected by disasters— Emotional and Spiritual care, Food and Hydration services, Donation management, Disaster social services… Everyone can find their place among our emergency teams. We encourage you to get the training and join our team.

For more information on The Salvation Army’s emergency disaster services, click here.