KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- Be informed about any Travel Advisories in your destination. I have linked to the US government site, but you can also find this information on many airline sites when you book to a destination with a warning, on many foreign insurance apps, and on the government embassy website of your citizenship.
- Know of any visa requirements
- Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs of your destination
- Understand the medical care available to you at your destination
- Keep the details of your nearest embassy or consulate with you.
- Note: If you are a US citizen, in case of emergency, the US Embassy is available 24/7, either overseas or in Washington DC (888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444).
BE PREPARED IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
- Have copies of your passport and important documents stowed away
- Have a few days worth of extra necessary medication in case of delays
- Keep an alternate ATM card in case one does not work or in the event it is lost, stolen, or eaten by an old fashioned machine (Yes! They still exist)
- Keep a credit card for emergencies in a separate location than the others in case of loss, theft, or other issues
- Have power adaptors for the currency of your destination
- In a true crisis or disaster, have one-two weeks of potable water and non-perishable food on hand. (So, if you know a hurricane is coming and you cannot leave, gather these supplies immediately! You may be surprised at how fast shelves become bare in a crisis)
- Other items to have on hand would be battery powered lights, spare batteries, and a radio to keep on top of the news alerts. For a more complete Free Checklist for Crisis Preparedness while Traveling, please follow the link.
- Know Evacuation Routes
- Know how to contact local authorities
- Know your insurance information and contact numbers
- In addition to my tips, there is a US Government page that lists many practical things to do in various crisis situations. While it is a US page, much of the advice could apply abroad as well. There is information on where the safest place to go in an earthquake is, handling an active shooter situation, hurricanes and more. I thought this page was worth linking to.
In unexpected situations, sometimes phone lines are unavailable due to outages and overcrowding. Utilize other ways of connecting with loved ones to keep them abreast of the situation, to allow them to intervene when necessary, and to let them know that you are okay.
Social Media and E-mail may be a good way to reach out. Another option is updating your safety status and whereabouts on apps such as Facebook. Another option may be reporting to the closest appropriate embassy or consulate. Spreading word locally to hotel staff, neighbors, and business owners that you are there, including your name and your home country, may help others find you and be aware of your situation.
- Have an exit strategy! When many people are in crisis, sometimes there just are not enough responders, or it is possible they cannot reach you or are unaware that you are in need of help.
- If you are in a multiple story building, be sure to know where the stairs are located, or additional exits.
- If you are in a staffed building, such as a hotel, hospital, or fitness facility, inquire about available tools such as evacuation routes, fire procedures, first aid, structurally safe areas, available food and water, and any instructions or advice.
- Some roads or areas may be closed or unsafe. Obtain and review a map to familiarize yourself with alternate routes out of harm’s way.
- Listen for and follow instructions from local authorities – If you do not understand, make this known with the hopes someone will be able to communicate with you in a way or language you will comprehend.
- Monitor local radio, television, websites, and social media for updates.
- Contact and keep in touch with your tour operators, travel agent, hotel staff, airline, cruise company, embassy, and local officials for evacuation instructions.
- Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate if you need emergency help. Please keep in mind that this will not alert emergency responders – if you need emergency medical attention or police assistance, contact the local authorities directly