Disaster Relief Teams: Send Your Best

After a disaster, many people feel an overwhelming need to “do something.” But work trips are fraught with opportunities for ineffectiveness and injury, especially if planned and implemented hastily.

Do it right with our Disaster Relief Teams Checklist and the following tips:


  • Partner with a relief organization or a church in the affected area. Don't just “go there.”
  • Appoint a team leader to supervise the work. A regional coordinator will be too busy for detailed supervision.
  • Don't go immediately after the disaster unless your team is trained in disaster response and is entirely self-contained.
  • Wait for emergency responders to establish an infrastructure, then go.


  • Have an automotive technician inspect your vehicles before departing. Repairs are tough to obtain in disaster areas.
  • Use a truck, sport utility vehicle, or small van to haul a trailer, not a 15-passenger van. These vans have a high risk of rolling over.
  • Confirm that the church insurance policy covers your vehicles, especially if they're borrowed.


  • Determine where you will sleep, eat, and shower. You may end up doing each in separate locations.


  • Make sure all workers have health insurance coverage.
  • Consider buying supplemental accident and sickness coverage for the trip.
  • Confirm that church employees going on the trip have workers' compensation insurance.

Medical Issues

  • Require team members to be in good physical health.
  • Make sure all workers sign a form that consents to treatment.
  • Obtain tetanus shots.
  • Know how to find the nearest emergency room, in case someone gets hurt.