What to Do in the First 48 Hours after a Natural Disaster

By James Barton •  Updated: 06/21/18 •  4 min read

Most people don’t believe that anything bad can happen to them until it eventually does and they find themselves woefully unprepared. Natural disasters can strike at any time and do an incredible amount of damage, destroying homes, cutting off communities, and taking lives.

This is why you need to have a strategy in place for surviving different disasters, but you also need to be prepared for the aftermath and trying to go back to your normal life. Here’s what you need to do during the first couple of days after a disaster.

Things you need to take care off in advance

planning for natural disaster

Planning ahead is what will allow you to take action quickly during a crisis situation. Make sure that you have the following things covered before developing any sort of disaster survival strategy:

These few things will make your life so much easier if a disaster strikes.

Make sure everyone is OK

The first thing to do is gather everyone in the same room, check if they are OK and tend to any wounds. If you can, give everyone a snack and a hot beverage lay out your plan and give everyone a job to do.

If there’s time put all the non-spoilable food in a big bag

In some cases, you may be able to weather the storm in your home and have enough time to rummage through the fridge and pantries for some extra food and anything useful that you can bring. If so, then pack all the canned goods and food that won’t spoil easily, and eat anything that will spoil but doesn’t need to be cooked. You want to start moving on a full stomach if you can.

Grab your clothes and bug out bag

bug out bag

Your main well-stocked bug out bag should be by the front door and easy to access, along with some warm clothes and hiking boots. It’s a good idea for your partner or another family member to have a bug out bag of their own, and you can have additional smaller bags with some clothes, blankets, snacks and a toy or two for your kids. A small toy will help keep your kids’ morale up during difficult times.  

Notify the authorities of your situation

Call the authorities as soon as you can, tell them what happened, where you will be headed, and what the extent of the damage is. Ask for some advice and for any specific medication or items you may need but are unable to find on your own – life rafts, fresh drinking water, heart medication, insulin, etc.

Find other survivors

Try to get a few of your neighbors to rally up with you at a certain location because you can do a much better job of staying safe if you are in a larger group. You’ll have access to a much more diverse inventory of gear and food, you’ll have more bodies to carry stuff and build a fire, and you’ll have someone to talk to. Once everyone is there make a plan and head towards a safer place.  

Set up a camp


In some cases, you may be able to hang out in your backyards or somewhere close to your homes, but you may also need to drive or walk to a different location. If there’s been a lot of destruction and you were forced to leave your homes, look for a safe area nearby where you can set up a camp and wait for help to come.

You’ll need to set up a basic camp and you’ll want to get a fire going as soon as you can. Delegate tasks according to everyone’s strengths.

As long as you have a few things prepared and can keep your wits about you, the first 48 hours after a disaster will be an opportunity to set up camp and wait for help to come.

James Barton

James Barton

Hi, I'm James. I am the founder and main editor for The Survival Corps. I have been a part of the survival and prepping community since my mid 30's as I downsized and started to prepare to be self sufficient in a time of crisis.