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At home it’s recommended that you have enough supplies to survive a disaster for 3 days, but what about when you travel? So many of the most popular tourist destinations around the world are in areas that frequently see natural disasters. It makes sense to be ready just in case the worst happens. This article will go through what to do in case of a natural disaster while you travel.
Know Where You’re Going
Before you ever leave home make sure you know where you’re going. What is the weather like there? What kinds of natural disasters might you run into? It’s also important to know the local laws for where you’re traveling. At home, you might think nothing of carrying a knife in your pocket but there are many places around the world, even in the United States where the law may be different to what you’re used to. Here is a list of questions you should be able to answer.
- Are there any natural disasters that could happen while I’m there? Take into account weather, proximity to water, the possibility of earthquakes and volcanos.
- Where is my country’s nearest embassy or consulate?
- Where is the nearest hospital?
- Where is the nearest high ground in case of flooding?
- Is where I’m visiting downstream from a dam?
Tell Someone Where You’ll Be
In case of an emergency, it may be very important for you to have someone far away who knows where you are. So if disaster does strike and you don’t get in touch with them you can be found. This person can be a trusted family member who isn’t going on the trip, a friend, or even a co-worker. I’m always reminded of Aron Ralston, who went out for a hike and had to amputate his own arm after an accident. He hadn’t told anyone where he was going and he had no way to call for help. The movie 127 Hours is based on his experience. If he had told his family or friends where he was going and when he planned to be home they could have reported him missing and gone looking for him when he didn’t show up. So always make sure someone knows where you’ll be. This includes not only your hotel and travel dates, but flight or train numbers, what route you plan to take in your car, and also your itinerary for your trip. The more information they have the less likely it is you’ll have to cut off your own arm just to survive.
Every Day Carry
Chances are pretty slim that you’re going to be spending all day every day in your hotel while you’re on vacation. That means it’s important to have some emergency supplies with you no matter where you go. It’s also important to keep in mind that there’s a chance your hotel could be destroyed when disaster strikes.
First Aid Kit
A very basic first aid kit doesn’t have to take up a lot of space, in fact, it can fit inside an Altoids tin. If you prefer you can always buy a small first aid kit that is already put together for you. This is a great one to get that is FDA approved and weighs only 1.2 pounds despite having 130 pieces in it!
If you do buy a kit remember to customize it to fit you and your family’s needs. If anyone you’re traveling with needs medication regularly keep extras in the kit. Also, check the laws on weapons and remove those knives or pepper sprays if necessary.
If you’re going to be traveling in a car you will also want to have a kit that is specifically for cars. These can have jumper cables, tools, road flares, as well as things like a poncho, first aid kit, and flashlight. One of the best I found on Amazon was actually Top Gear branded, which came as a bit of a surprise as there was also one from AAA, but it offered much less.
When disaster strikes you may be cut off from your ability to buy or cook food. In an ideal world, you would have 3 days of food with you for every person you’re traveling with. But unless you’re traveling by car that isn’t very practical. Instead, you should keep a small ziplock bag of food that can offer each person two small meals without having to cook. A small meal could be something like a can of tuna and some crackers or even just a sandwich. It’s a small amount of fuel to keep your body going until you can get somewhere with food.
After a disaster safe, drinkable water is in very short supply. If there’s a flood all of that water has been contaminated with human feces because the sewage pipes flood too. If you’re lucky enough to know a disaster is coming you should stock up on water while you can. Fill the bathroom sink with water along with the kettle, and any bottles you have. To keep hydrated and clean one person goes through a gallon of water each day.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have advance warning of a disaster then there are still ways for you to keep hydrated. If you’re traveling in a city remember to only drink things that come in sealed bottles. Any water you see laying around or in a river could have incredibly harmful contaminants in them. If you decide to collect rainwater make sure it is coming directly from the sky into your container. Water dripping off roofs will be contaminated. The same goes for water the moment it touches the ground or other water already on the ground.
If you happen to be traveling in the countryside you don’t have to worry as much about pollution in the water you’re drinking. But that doesn’t mean it’s safe either. What is in the water is easier to neutralize as it’s more likely to be bacteria than feces. A bottle of Potable Aqua tablets will purify your water and make it safe to drink.
You may also want to carry a LifeStraw with you. It kills 99% of bacteria and is good to be used for 264 gallons of water. Each person you’re traveling with should have their own just in case.
Make sure that every person who takes medications regularly or for emergencies has enough with them to last 3 days. Every person should carry their own medicines, including children. With children’s medication, you should leave a small note with instructions on when to take them and how much to take. This way if your child gets separated from you they will still have what they need. Just make sure they understand it isn’t candy. If they’re too young to understand that keep them in a childproof container so if your child is found someone can still give them the medicine they need.
When disaster strikes you may not have access to your hotel room anymore, which means you won’t have any changes of clothes. Most of your clothing will be fine to wear for a couple of days in a disaster. But you should always carry an extra pair of socks. If your feet get wet you’re going to be miserable, so a change of socks can make all the difference in the world. You should also carry something long sleeved to cover up with in case it gets cold. You may also want to consider carrying a poncho to keep the rain off you, because again if you get wet you will be miserable.
Other Small Items
You may also want to carry with you a flashlight, an AM/FM radio, a phone charger, and a siren. Or you can get one thing that does all those jobs plus it has a hand crank and solar charging options so you don’t have to worry about batteries. The Safe-T-Proof Emergency Radio is an excellent choice as it does all that while weighing only 10.9 ounces.
Each person you’re traveling with, including the kids, should have copies of some essential documents with them at all times. You should have a copy of all your travel documents, that means your passport, your flight confirmation, and whatever other documents you might need to help you prove who you are and that you intend to travel. In addition to that, you should have a card printed out with your emergency contact details. This is that trusted person from home. Your card should be printed out so if someone finds you and they don’t have to try to read your handwriting. You should also use a sans-serif font to make it as easy to read as possible. Be sure to include the country dialing code in the phone number. The card should also have your health insurance details on it.
If you’re traveling with kids there are a few extra things they should have in their backpack in case of an emergency. Add in a couple of small bags of treats like gummy bears or M&Ms. Little treats like this can help keep a child calm during a stressful situation. Along that same line of thinking you should include a small toy for them to play with. This will keep them distracted while you’re filling out paperwork or stuck in a shelter. This can be something like a toy car or an action figure.
Make sure that whatever food they’re carrying is something they could easily open on their own. A can of tuna is a bad idea for them, but a sandwich in a ziplock bag will work perfectly. They should also carry a business card for the hotel you’re staying in along with your name and room number written on the back. One final item you may want to give your child is a personal alarm, self-defense keychain. Make sure though that they’re old enough to understand they should only use it in an emergency.
With everything in this article you’re ensuring that you and your family will stay safe and you will know what to do in case of a natural disaster while you travel. For your free checklist keep scrolling to the very end and save the image to your computer.