Emergency Response
    missionaries responding to disaster

    Emergency Response


    “Following Christ is not a casual or occasional practice but a continuous commitment and way of life that applies at all times and in all places” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Followers of Christ,” Apr. 2013 general conference).

    As members of the Church, we feel that it is our duty to follow the Savior’s example and help those in need, whoever they are.

    “Respecting how much a man … shall give … we have no special instructions; … he is to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of the orphan, to comfort the afflicted, whether in this church, or in any other [church], or in no church at all, wherever he finds them” (Times and Seasons, Mar. 15, 1842, 732).

    One way that we help others is through our emergency response efforts.

    How does the Church respond in an emergency?

    The Church provides relief in situations of civil unrest, famine, and natural disasters by providing short-term resources such as food, water, shelter, clothing, medical supplies, and hygiene kits.

    This response is accomplished under the direction of local leadership, often in conjunction with local and international relief organizations. Members help by distributing supplies and participating in cleanup.

    Disaster Response

    When tragedy strikes, ward and stake leaders begin carrying out their emergency plan by gathering in a previously determined location where they can direct relief efforts.

    Leaders work together to complete assigned tasks as outlined in the emergency plan to account for missionaries and members (particularly those previously identified on the Special Needs and Critical Information worksheets), assess and respond to needs, and report to area leadership.

    Response efforts should be coordinated with civil authorities and community relief organizations.

    Guidelines for Ward and Stake Emergency Plans


    In the event of an emergency, ward and stake councils are responsible for accounting for each missionary and member within their areas. They should pay special attention to those who may need additional help (i.e., wheelchair assistance, oxygen, special medications, and so on).

    This accounting may be done through ministering brothers and sisters.


    Assess missionary and member needs, damage to Church property, and general conditions in the community.


    Work in conjunction with civil authorities and relief organizations to supply basic provisions and services—such as food, clothing, sanitation, medical assistance, and temporary shelter to those who have suffered damage to homes or belongings, emotional trauma, injury, or loss of livelihood.


    Report the condition of:

    • Missionaries and members (as well as their locations).

    • Member housing.

    • Church properties.

    • The community (including roads, public utilities, commerce, facilities, and infrastructure).

    These needs should be reported through priesthood channels to the bishop, stake president, and area leadership.

    Meetinghouses as Emergency Shelters

    Following a disaster, the use of a meetinghouse as a community emergency shelter is occasionally needed. Permission is granted by the stake president, after consulting with a member of the Presidency of the Seventy or the Area Presidency. After receiving approval, the priesthood leader should contact his Church physical facilities representative (PFR).

    Guidelines for Use of Meetinghouses as Emergency Shelters

    How can I help during an emergency?

    Directly Involved

    If you’ve received first aid training or have other valuable skills, you may be in a position to provide immediate relief in a crisis situation. Identify yourself and your credentials to whoever is in charge, and allow them to direct your efforts.

    Neighboring Ward or Stake

    Priesthood leaders may encourage members in neighboring wards and stakes to help by gathering and assembling supplies, assisting in disaster cleanup, and other response efforts.

    Assembling Supplies

    Members living nearby may volunteer to assemble supplies for those affected by the disaster, such as:

    • Blankets.

    • Clothes.

    • Emergency medical supplies.

    • Food.

    • Hygiene kits.

    Disaster Cleanup and Church Volunteer Safety

    Wards and stakes in nearby communities may organize volunteers to assist in community cleanup following a disaster. These relief teams help clean up homes, parks, and other facilities.

    All volunteers should adhere to Church safety guidelines for disaster cleanup:

    • Wear appropriate clothing and safety equipment.

    • Drink plenty of water.

    • Avoid contact with hazardous chemicals.

    • Be aware of broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects.

    • Use caution when working around mold or asbestos.

    • Treat wounds properly and promptly.

    Guidelines for Disaster Cleanup and Church Volunteer Safety

    From a Distance

    When a disaster has occurred in another part of the world, it is not always practical to ship relief supplies. In these cases, donations and volunteer work may be more sensible.


    Members may contribute to the Church Humanitarian Aid Fund using the Tithing and Other Offerings donation slip. The Church uses these donations to purchase supplies locally. By purchasing local goods, the Church avoids customs and shipping fees, stimulates the damaged economy, and provides products that will be familiar to recipients.


    Wards, families, and individuals are encouraged to participate in local relief projects where practical.

    Related Topics


    Scripture References

    Scripture Study Resources

    Prophets and Church Leaders

    Prophets and Apostles

    Other Church Leaders

    Learning Resources

    General Resources

    “Charity,” True to the Faith

    “Fasting and Fast Offerings,” True to the Faith

    “Service,” True to the Faith

    “Emergency Response Cards,” Youth Activities

    “Emergency Survival Skills,” Youth Activities

    “Using Tents and Emergency Shelters,” Youth Activities

    “Our Lord’s Ministry in Perea and Judea,” Jesus the Christ, chapter 26

    “Emergency Response,” ldscharities.org

    “Guidelines for Disaster Cleanup and Church Volunteer Safety”

    “Guidelines for Use of Meetinghouses as Emergency Shelters”

    “Guidelines for Emergency Communication,” providentliving.org

    “Guidelines for Ward and Stake Emergency Plans,” providentliving.org

    “Humanitarian Aid,” mormon.org

    Church Magazines

    “Never Alone in Sierra Leone,” Ensign or Liahona, September 2015

    “LDS Charities Featured at United Nations Event,” Ensign or Liahona, July 2014

    “Church Encourages Members Worldwide to Serve Local Communities,” Ensign, January 2013

    “In the Aftermath of the Tornado,” Ensign, July 2012

    “Storming Back,” Ensign, March 2007

    “When a Kiss Won’t Make It Better: A Do-It-Yourself First Aid Kit,” New Era, November 1977

    In the News

    “Latter-day Saints Standing By to Help with Houston Flood,” Church News

    “Church Continues to Aid Those Affected by Cyclone Pam,” Church News

    “Church Continues to Provide Aid to Ebola-Stricken West Africa,” Church News

    “Viewpoint: Do Something Good,” Church News

    “Relief Efforts Continue in Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan,” Church News

    “Church Helping Hands Groups around the World Praised for Efforts,” Church News

    “European Members Participate in Area-Wide Blood Drive for Day of Service,” Church News

    “Church Update on Response to Japan Earthquake and Tsunami,” LDS Newsroom

    “Church Responds to Over 100 Disasters in 2012,” LDS Newsroom

    “Humanitarian Aid and Welfare Services Basics: How Donations and Resources Are Used,” LDS Newsroom

    “Humanitarian Services,” LDS Newsroom

    “Church Provides Emergency Response to Hurricane Sandy,” LDS Philanthropies

    Teaching Resources

    Teaching Outlines

    Stories and Activities for Teaching Children

    “Loving Our Neighbors,” Family Home Evening Resource Book



    “Mormon Humanitarian Aid Efforts Around the World”

    “Samoa Tsunami Relief Effort”

    “Haiti Emergency Response”

    “Helping Refugees in Iraq—The Mayor of Howesk”

    “Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?”


    “An interview with Gail Halvorsen the Candy Bomber,” Mormon Channel Daily, episode 598

    “Interview with Syrian Refugee Service Missionaries,” Mormon Channel Daily, episode 638

    “Doug and Lorie Thomsen—Humanitarian Center,” Faith in Action, episode 35