Travel and Natural Disasters

hurricane making landfall

Consider these tips to prepare and protect yourself in the event of a natural disaster.

Although rare, natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, tornadoes, or earthquakes could occur while you are on a trip. Natural disasters can seriously injure large numbers of people, contribute to the spread of some diseases, disrupt sanitation, and interrupt normal public services. Travelers should be familiar with risks for natural disasters at their destination and local warning systems, evacuation routes, and shelters.

Be Prepared

  • Be informed, make a plan, make a kit:
    • Be informed: know what type of emergencies happen in the area where you are traveling.
    • Make a plan: have safe places identified for your family and others with whom you are traveling to meet if separated, and make sure you know how to let them know you are okay.
    • Make a kit: your travel health kit should include first-aid supplies, copies of important documents (such as passport or prescriptions), and a list of emergency contacts.
  • You can find information on travel alerts and disaster threats on the Department of State website.

If a Natural Disaster Strikes

  • Follow instructions provided by local emergency and public health authorities. US travelers visiting other countries can also seek advice from the nearest US embassy.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid hazards:
    • Stay away from wild or stray animals.
    • Don’t use electric tools or appliances while standing in water.
    • Avoid swiftly moving water during floods.
    • Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by only using generators or other gasoline-, propane-, natural gas-, or charcoal-burning devices outside and away from open windows, doors, and air vents.

During the Aftermath

  • Be aware of the risks for injury during and after a natural disaster. After a natural disaster, deaths are most often due to blunt trauma, crush-related injuries, or drowning.
  • Be careful during clean-up. Avoid downed power lines, electrical outlets that have been exposed to water, and interrupted gas lines.
  • Eat and drink only safe food and water.
  • Seek medical care if you are injured, sick, or having trouble coping with stress.

The best way for travelers to stay healthy and safe when journeying to a new place is to plan ahead and stay well informed. Know your destination’s risk for natural disasters before you book your trip.