Staying Alive in an Emergency

In the wake of the recent earthquake in Ecuador and having a client there at the time it happened, we thought we’d take a moment to talk about staying alive during a major event like an earthquake or tsunami  while on a trip.

One of the best pieces of advice we can give is to be observant and be prepared. Hmmm…sounds like the Boy Scouts’ motto. Everywhere you go, always make yourself aware of emergency exits in buildings and evacuation signs or routes and a place to evacuate to. This is especially true when visiting a coastal area near the Pacific Ocean (Western coast of the U.S. or countries/islands in the Pacific) where tsunamis seem to be more prevalent. Then, be prepared by taking a few basic items with you just in case as we’ve seen that having to deal with the effects of the event afterwards may prove just as hazardous as the event itself.

Some items to keep with you – carry a small first aid kit (with an antiseptic, band aids and ointment for healing), have some cash in small bills and include coins, a flashlight including extra batteries, a couple of protein bars (or a can of food), a fully charged cell phone, and a bottle of water. There are quite a few more items you could put in a bag but these are some basics I would take with me on any trip whether driving or flying to your vacation destination. Some companies have “bug-out bags” already put together with these basic items and more. It would probably be good to keep one around the house.

When an earthquake does come, drop to your knees if indoors, find cover under a sturdy table, curl up in a fetal position holding on to one of the table’s legs and after the shaking,  get out. If outdoors, move to an open area where buildings or heavy objects won’t fall on you. If in a car, slow down and move to the side of the road avoiding stopping under bridges, overpasses, power lines, trees and large signs. Fema has provided a more detailed list of tips for preparing before, surviving during and after an earthquake. Keep in mind that most often, the after issues can be just as hazardous.

In a tsunami situation, the most important thing to remember is get to higher ground. With most of them, the water recedes from the shoreline to a noticeable point. When that happens, RUN. Get away from the beach immediately. The 3rd floor or higher of a building, climb a tree or run to the nearest assembly point if you hear an announcement. Stay tuned to local news stations for evacuation or emergency announcements.

If you are traveling internationally, always find the phone number and address of the nearest U.S. Embassy in case you need to evacuate quickly. We certainly hope that you never get caught in a situation like this whether here at home or while on a trip. But if you do, these tips should help you stay alive. Stay safe.

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Filed under Action/Adventure Travel, Safety Issues, Traveler Tips

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