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Except the Unexpected as a Disaster Preparedness and Response Volunteer

Natural disasters, and some made directly by humans, are becoming stronger, lasting longer and occurring more frequently than ever. As a volunteer, you can help in a variety of ways—from educating yourself and others and helping communities prepare, to responding directly and helping neighborhoods rebuild. Here are a few ideas for how to get started in this increasingly important volunteer field.

Always be prepared. 
The folks at have put together a comprehensive site to help you educate yourself and your neighbors about everything from seasonal weather risks to financial preparedness. There’s also a section dedicated to youth education, with games for kids and resources for parents and teachers. If you’d like to get involved, you can download preparedness curricula to share with your child’s school, or join your local Community Emergency Response Team, and learn more about disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

Put out a fire before it begins. 
Wildfires, particularly along the west coast, have been becoming increasingly common and severe. But organizations like are fighting back with education and resources you can use to help keep your neighborhood and communities, fire safe. You can download valuable information there, or if you prefer to get out into the great outdoors, team up with the US Forest Service. USFS volunteers help with everything from managing campgrounds and interactions with park visitors, to taking wildlife and plant inventors, building trails and participating in Citizen Science projects.

Get into the action. 
Team Rubicon traces its roots to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Haiti and focuses on serving vulnerable and at-risk populations affected by disaster. The organization counts on volunteers from both the civilian and military communities, and serves communities both here, and abroad. Learn more about the team, and volunteer here. Or team up with the seemingly always-present, Red Cross. No matter where and when disaster strikes, the Red Cross counts on volunteers to carry out 90% of the humanitarian work. Help make a difference by responding to one of the approximately 64,000 disasters Red Cross volunteers respond to, every year.

Rebuild communities and strengthen human connections. 
The purpose of The National Relief Network is to bring large numbers of student volunteers to state and federally declared disaster areas for the purpose of helping families in their efforts to rebuild their homes, their communities, and their lives. You can register to volunteer over the summer, or during any of the holiday breaks throughout the year. Or join the more than 55,000 volunteers who have helped rebuild 239 schools around the world when you volunteer for All Hands and Hearts. And if making a difference in your own community is more your style, you can always team up with Habitat for Humanity and make a life-changing impact on local family.

Find more opportunities, ideas and inspiration, using this simple volunteer search.

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