Experiencing any natural disaster is scary stuff, but preparing in a number of ways can considerably improve the outcome of your safety

Travel Tips for Natural Disasters

Experiencing an earthquake, flood, tornado or any other natural disaster isn’t something we think about prior to setting off on our journey around the world. Why would we?

But thinking it’s not going to happen to us, isn’t going to prevent it from happening. Being prepared for the worst is imperative so that we can eliminate any danger to ourselves and others around us.

14 November 2016, New Zealand

Early hours of this morning at 12:02am in Wellington, New Zealand I was woken by my bed violently shaking. It didn’t take long to realise this was unlike any other minor shudder we’d felt during our time here over the past year.

Despite us being safe during the earthquake and remaining aftershocks (that have lasted most of today) it made me realise that I wasn’t as prepared as I needed to be!

Sometimes when we’re faced with situations like this, we act impulsively which can ultimately lead to making bad decisions. So to encourage myself and others to do something before it’s too late I’ve compiled a list, so please read and take note:

Research the risks

Before deciding on visiting a country check the risks. Are earthquakes a regular occurrence? If so, how often are they? Can you avoid going to areas that are more at risk? Talk it out with your family/friends and get their opinion. Try not to be selfish in your decision. Yes, it’s your life but it’s never fun worrying about someone you care for.

Don’t be invisible

When you get to your chosen destination, try to make a few friends. You’ll be surprised how many friends (and colleagues, if you’re on a working visa) will call/text you to check if you’re ok if a disaster strikes. Likewise, contact your friends and colleagues who may need you in a time of stress.

Create a plan

Always have a vague idea of what you’d do in a natural disaster. Even though you can never determine where you’ll be or who you’ll be with it’s always comforting to have some sort of a plan. For instance, decide on a safe meeting spot to reunite with someone you’re traveling with or if you’re at home a means to get to a high ground.

Think of others

When communicating try to text unless it’s an emergency. This keeps the lines clear for others who desperately need to call for help. Also, make sure your phone is constantly charged, if you can’t always guarantee this, as most of us can’t, buy a pre-paid phone for your survival kit, ensure it’s fully charged with minutes ready to use.

Know your stuff

When you arrive at a new destination and check into your accommodation always take a minute to study your escape routes. Be aware of how far you are from the sea and how long it would take to get to high ground by foot. Knowing the emergency number for the country you’re in goes without saying, if you can’t remember, get them saved!

Don’t stall

Take the advice you receive from locals and don’t stall. This is a big mistake I made as I hadn’t put a survival kit together for myself. Don’t put these things off, it will take less than an hour of your time and you’ll thank yourself later. Try to have a few kits if possible. One at home, one in work and preferably one with you when you’re out and about.

Check in

If you’re struggling to get hold of anyone close by, contact your family or friends who are in a different country. Even though they are what seems like a million miles away make contact with them and tell them your whereabouts as precisely as you can. Someone knowing where you are is better than no one.

Keep in the know

If you have access to the internet keep up to date with the latest news. Twitter is the fastest and most reliable source when it comes to this. Further, start following emergency services, weather channels and news channels for the country you’re in, these will be feeding you the most relevant information.

Have any of you been caught up in a natural disaster? Are there any tips you have for preparing? Or things you would do differently when visiting a new country that has these risks…

 

 

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  • My father in law got caught in the big Los Angeles earthquake in 1994 and was staying in a hotel and vividly recalls waking up to be flung out of the bed and then walking around in the dark in bare feet with broken glass on the carpet. Fortunately he escaped very shaken and unscathed – but after that didn’t go anywhere without a panic bag which included a torch, a hammer (to beat his way out of windows, etc), snack bars, water and lightweight trainers…

    • Jess

      I bet that was very scary for him Sarah, but it’s good that he’s learnt from it and now keeps a panic bag on him. Experiencing what I did the other night made me realise what others have gone through in the past and if we can learn from that then it’s a good thing!

  • He is now long retired, but I vividly recall his account of wandering the streets for hours desperately searching for an undamaged phone box to let his anxious family know that he was safe…

  • Thankfully, I’ve never been caught in an earthquake, although one did hit South Korea a month or so ago (highly unusual). I was both unfortunate and fortunate to end up being in South Korea during an outbreak of mers about two years ago. Unfortunate, because it was scary because no one knew what the disease did or how to stop it. It involved a lot of walking around in surgical masks involved until it cleared up (it turned out to not be that big of a deal). It was fortunate because the school I worked at ended up being closed for the week. I agree with you, though, one of the most important things you can do is make friends in the area you are visiting, because not only will they check in on you, but they can keep you updated if you don’t speak the language.

    • Jess

      Hey Karlie, thanks for commenting! Wow, that must have been extremely scary to experience! Being out of control and not knowing what to do is the worst, especially when you’re not used to these kinds of things. In a way though it prepares us as travellers and hardens us for any future disasters we might encounter. And yes, I’m glad you agree it’s even more important to make friends if there’s a language barrier with communication, keeping up to date is crucial.