When Disaster Strikes

We have been seeing an unprecedented rise in historic climate events around the world, and this isn’t predicted to change any time soon. While traveling or living overseas, we may suddenly have to contend with heat waves, floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. When in an unfamiliar area, one in which you may not speak the language, this can be even more frightening than in your home country.

Here are a few things you can do in advance to prepare.

  • Register with your embassy. You may have seen this tip in several lists for different reasons, but it is always good practice to register for any alerts that may be sent out. In extreme situations, your embassy may even be able to advice on evacuation.
  • Your company should have channels in place to deal with crises. If they have not already made you aware of them, make contact with the crisis team in advance of any emergency.
  • Familiarize yourself with what’s happened locally in the past. Find out if your neighborhood in particular has been affected by flooding, fires, or heat waves. By being aware of what’s possible, you can avoid surprise.
  • Prepare an emergency kit. The Red Cross has guidelines on what belongs in a survival kit. Your host country may even sell prepackaged kits based on the local climate and geography; when I lived in Japan, earthquake kits were sold at local stores and online. Keep copies of important documents and numbers in this kit.
  • Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes, shelter locations, and public transportation policy in the event of an emergency. Be aware that your typical modes of transportation may not be available in an emergency, so know alternate routes in advance. Some countries may have routes posted on major streets; others may require you to get a map at a city office.

At Living Abroad, we support expatriates in having a safe assignment. Our profiles have emergency numbers for each country, as well as extra information for destinations with particular risks under Security. In addition, our Relocation Essentials provide information relevant to assignees in general under Planning for Emergencies and When Emergencies Arise.

While natural disasters may not be on your mind among all the other stresses of moving overseas, by the time one strikes, it can already be too late to be prepared.

Written by Kate Havas, Content Manager