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An unexpected disaster or emergency, like a flood, fire, industrial accident, or pandemic, can be stressful. This can have a big impact on your emotional and physical health.
You might have more headaches, stomach problems, colds, or allergies than normal. Stress can also make chronic health problems like heart problems or high blood pressure worse or harder to manage.
When talking to your doctor or other healthcare providers, let them know you’ve been through a disaster or emergency and if there have been changes in your health.
For some people, the signs of stress after a disaster or emergency don’t appear until weeks or months after the event has happened.
CALM stands for: connect, accept what’s changed, look for the positive, and manage stress. These tips can help you cope and recover from what you’ve been through.
The things that help you stay physically well can also help your emotional wellness. To help you cope and recover after a disaster or emergency:
Anyone who goes through a disaster or emergency will be affected and will cope in different ways. Watch for signs that you are not coping well and get help if you need it.
Warning signs that you are not coping well:
Using alcohol, drugs, or gambling to cope, distract yourself, or feel better can lead to bigger problems. Ask for help to find better ways to cope before these become a problem. If you had challenges coping with stress before the disaster or emergency, you can learn new and healthier ways to cope. Use available supports and be patient with yourself.
If you’re having suicidal thoughts, go to the nearest emergency department or call 911 right away.
Call Health Link at 811 to speak to a registered nurse.
Help is available. Most of the phone numbers below offer telephone support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The hours for text messaging support or online chats may be different.
Adapted from Mental Health Promotion & Illness Prevention Team, Alberta Health Services.
To see this information online and learn more, visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca/health/pages/conditions.aspx?Hwid=custom.ab_recoverypostdisasteremergency_ac.
For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.
Current as of: July 21, 2022
Author: Emergency/Disaster Management, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.