Over the past month, areas in Asia and the United States have been hit by the most devastating floods and hurricanes the planet has seen in years. Despite the wreckage, many have been eager to help. While it may seem simple enough to plan an independent search-and-rescue, it isn’t always the most efficient option. Here are the best ways you can help disaster victims.
Donations in kind may seem the most practical, but monetary donations go to much better use. This allows groups to determine exactly what is needed. Direct your funds towards general relief, which can easily be accomplished online. Do research before deciding where you want your donations to go. You want relief groups — even the big dogs — to be transparent about where the money is ending up. There are also scammers taking advantage of times like this, so be extra diligent when donating.
As with any disaster, injuries are inevitable. This is where help goes beyond your wallet. Consider providing medical assistance. Groups that accept emergency medical kits are often specific about its contents. Some of the items include insulin, asthma inhalers, and various medicines. For the non-squeamish, you can opt to participate in blood drives. Otherwise, it’s also a perfectly good opportunity to overcome your fear of needles. For all you know, a single prick can go a long way.
Because disasters are known to displace hundreds (or thousands), food banks are also a good place to start. As with most organizations, it’s best to donate money. However, you can also be involved in food drives and help out at soup kitchens. Periodically, food banks will also be affected by flooding, among other factors. Preparing meals quickly and systematically is vital.
Some groups provide aid for specific people. Find out what you can do for persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and children. This may involve direct rescues, which are best carried out in organized efforts as opposed to individual ones. Instead of scrambling to father a group, sign up with volunteer portals. This may also give your efforts more direction and help avoid ending up in random, hazardous areas.
Of course, when accounting for the entire family, it’s best to keep your four-legged member in the picture. Sadly, owners and their pets are often separated, whether by accident or deliberately. While it may be liberating to berate irresponsible pet owners, it’s better to get involved in animal rescue. Animal organizations are active in pet evacuations and also offer resources on pet-friendly housing for found pets. You can also donate to shelters or — even better — adopt a dog or cat. Other relief efforts involve the distribution of pet food and handling of the animals at shelters.
Ensuring your own safety is the most important part of giving back. Without you, there would be no chance to do so. If you feel your contributions are minuscule, remember that you are part of a larger community doing good. And, who knows? Your drop in the ocean could cause a ripple.