Everyone wants their vacation memories to be full of beautiful landscapes, delicious food, and happy faces. However, there are some vacations or international trips that end with an earthquake, a hurricane (remember the horrid hurricane Maria hitting the US recently?), or a terrorist attack.
No, we aren’t scaring you. All we are saying that these things happen (even though you want to believe that they happen only to others), and it is better to be prepared for the worst. So, the next time you are planning a trip abroad, make sure you pack some important information along with your favourite clothes and shoes.
Follow these survival tips if you are stuck in a natural or man-made disaster in another country
1. Make sure someone back home has a copy of your travel itinerary
We agree that you are the most troubled when you are a part of a disaster. However, those who are clueless and waiting for any news back home are in a bad position too. It would help them if they know where you will exactly be on which days and the details of your hotel(s). If you have any access to phone/Internet during the disaster or after it, make sure you let them know you are safe.
Additionally, this information helps them share your whereabouts with authorities if such circumstances arise.
2. Keep your eyes and ears open for official advice
If you are stuck in a natural/man-made disaster, there will definitely be advice and further warnings coming from an official body. Make sure you try your best to get access to them through television, radio, or Internet – and follow them.
Do not assume you know better than them, especially since you do not know much about the country. If there is any specific safe location mentioned, work towards reaching it; do not venture out alone to explore places or to get an idea of the overall damage. That can be dealt with later. The need of the hour is to make sure you and your loved ones are safe.
While planning a trip, it is best to avoid any places where there is any sort of political, natural unrest to make sure you don’t be a part of it. Search for advisories from the Embassy before you book your ticket.
3. Reach out to the Singapore Embassy
The website of Consulate-General of The Republic of Singapore clearly states, “In the event that Singaporeans overseas require emergency consular assistance, please call the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office (24-hours) at +65-63798800/8855, email us at [email protected], or get in touch with the nearest Singapore Overseas Mission.”
Try every possible way to get in touch with them as they will make sure you are safe and home as soon as possible. If you are unable to do so, message a friend or family member back home to ask for help and follow up consistently on your behalf.
Before you leave Singapore, you can register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to inform them of your trip. Register here.
4. Be prepared to comply with extra checks and scrutiny
If you are stuck in an unfortunate national situation, the whole city/country will be on high alert. So, extra inspections and checks are inevitable. There will be long queues, passport and other document checks, physical inspections, mass evacuations and so on.
Make sure you comply with all the formalities and understand that everyone is just trying to do their best to improve the situation. A patient and tolerant attitude is important here!
5. Try to grab your pre-prepared disaster kit when any calamity strikes
A disaster kit might not be on the minds of many while planning a trip abroad, but let us highlight the importance of preparing and carrying one. This kit can prove to be a lifesaver. That’s because it will contain items such as potable water, dry fruits and biscuits, a copy of your passport and insurance, a first aid box, emergency contact numbers, a power bank, a torch and other essential things you need every day. These things will help you survive days of no food, water, electricity and other inconveniences.
Always carry emergency medicines while travelling. In a new country, drug names may differ and prescriptions may be tough to come by.
6. Buy a travel insurance and know how to use it
During an emergency in a foreign land, any help is welcome. Here is where your travel insurance comes in. Not buying an insurance while travelling is like gambling; if the odds are not in your favour, you might end up in a mess. So, make sure you get the travel insurance that is perfect for you before any foreign travel. Many insurance companies including AVIVA Travel Insurance and AIA Travel Insurance offer 24-hour travel assistance to their members, as well as emergency evacaution. So, use their help.
7. Talk to your bank
Money comes handy when you face an unfortunate incident, especially abroad. There are high chances that you will run out of excess of foreign currency while in an emergency. So, you need to get in touch with your bank to ask how fast they get more cash to you.
Also, it would be a great idea to activate international facilities on your credit card and inform your bank about your travel plans beforehand. To know more about prepping your card for an international trip, click here.
8. Use your intelligence and keep calm
It is common knowledge that when an earthquake strikes, you must get away from huge objects that could collapse; or during a tornado, the cellar or the basement is your safest place. However, when a calamity strikes suddenly, these ideas might not come to us easily.
Also, reach out to locals and assist them where you can. Share your supplies and they may help you with information that you may not know because of language or other issues.
Lastly, in a tough situation, instead of giving up, take a few deep breaths, get your thoughts together, and use all your knowledge for your benefit. Keeping calm isn’t easy when an emergency strikes but it is the most helpful thing you can do.