Preparing for Disaster While Overseas.

Preparing for Disaster While Overseas.

Hurricane_Keith_30_sept_2000_2227ZDisasters can happen anywhere, and at any time.

Be prepared when you are overseas.

Natural disasters, political disasters, or personal disasters all happen when we least expect them.

When you are overseas you are further away from support, and the infrastructure to handle disasters just might not be in place at all.  So my best advice is be prepared.

Make a plan.

First look at what disasters are likely in your area.  Here in Belize, we need to worry about hurricanes and flooding more than earth quakes, or forest fires, but each area is different.  Find out what things you need to be prepared for where you are.

Plan for the big disasters:  What will you do if there is a hurricane, or flood?

Where do you plan on going?  Where do you have, or can you get supplies? How will you get there?

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Plan for the little disasters:  What will you do if your house burns down, or everything is stolen?

What neighbors do you know?  What are the local emergency #’s?  How can I get replacement documents?

Ready.gov is a great resource for making a plan

Make a kit.

American Red Cross & Ready.gov have some great information on building a kit to be prepared.

They recommend a three-day kit for your family.  For travelers and expats this just might not be appropriate, so I recommend preparing in layers.

For the very minimum level of preparedness always carry in your wallet (or purse):

  • An extra $20 or about the same amount in local money.
  • A copy of important numbers on paper (laminated or in plastic).
  • Two band-aids & a wet wipe, because accidents do happen.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have used these for little emergencies.  Cut yourself, no problem, don’t take credit cards, no problem, etc…

Also find out and program all your local emergency numbers into your phone and put an ICE contact number in your phone

ICE – stands for in case of emergency and should be the phone number you would want called if you are unconscious.

ARC-go-bagTo be a little better prepared have a one day “ready” bag or kit for each member of the family.

Each ready bag should have:

  • $20 for each member of the family or for a family of 3 $60.
  • Copies of your documents (passport, visas, permits, etc…) in waterproof bag.
  • A copy of important numbers on paper in a waterproof bag.
  • Small first aid kit with band-aids, wet wipes, a couple of pain killers, Tums, other medications for one day.
  • A flashlight with an extra set of batteries.
  • An emergency blanket
  • One large trash bag, 4 gallon size zip lock bags.
  • One role of toilet paper with 4 tall kitchen bags.
  • One spare set of clothes.
  • 4 bottles of water.
  • Food – at least 8 protein or meal replacement bars, and some candy, snacks, etc…
  • A small took kit a small knife, screwdriver, pair of pliers should do.
  • Something to do, a book, coloring books, deck of cards, etc…

Sometimes when traveling you can’t take everything, but we usually pack one of our carry-on’s as a ready bag minus the knife of course.  This can be a godsend if your luggage is lost, miss a flight, or a hundred other situations.  When we arrive at a new destination it is simple to re-stock the water, snacks, and get a small knife and you’re back up to a full one day kit.

It’s best to be prepared for a full 72 hours.

Both the U.S. Government and the American Red Cross say it can take them up to 3 days to get help to you in the U.S.  How much longer could it take for you to get help overseas?  Some people may want to stock up for a full week or more.

Think about what you would need if there was no power or running water for 3 days.  Financially, have at least enough money on hand at all times to pay for a hotel and meals for 3 days at double the normal rates.  Remember that ATMs won’t be available and prices will go up in an emergency.

Expat preparednessExtra preparedness steps for expats

Have an “I have to go back fund” – You may have to unexpectedly go back due to family, medical, or political reasons.

Have some for extra money in multiple currencies,  always keep some spare money in your home currency.

Keep extra copies of your passports, visas, work permits, in paper, and digitally.

Always register with your embassy in your new country, and have their contact numbers on your important numbers list.

Take extra care in your communications plan, have contact locations in your new country and your home country

Plan for the expected, but be prepared for the unexpected.

If there is one thing I have learned in my travels, it is that things are going to happen that are unexpected.

Sometimes they are what makes your trip, and sometimes they are what ruins it.  The more prepared you are, the smoother, and safer your time overseas will be.

Just imagine how much safer you will feel knowing you have taken these steps to prepare and to protect your family.

Preparedness resources

American Red Cross

Ready.gov

10 Travel Preparedness Tips You Won’t Want to Forget – Be prepared blog

Survive Anything course – (affiliate link)

 

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