If you’re living abroad you should always be prepared for a crisis, it can be more likely to occur in some countries than others but no matter where you are residing you should take precautions so you’re prepared should something happen.
You should be particularly alert if you are living somewhere that has a high risk of terrorism or unrest.
What is a crisis?
A crisis is an uncertain event which has the potential to harm, or inflict serious damage on individuals, communities and organisations.
There are three main types of an incident in which a crisis response might be activated:
- a major incident where a high number of British Nationals have been injured or killed and the cause still poses danger to others. A major incident like this could include terrorist attacks, major transport accidents, serious pandemics and various natural disasters.
- civil or political unrest which in the worst case can result in you having to leave the country
- events that cause disruption but do not usually threaten lives including; travel disruption or major airport shutdowns.
How to prepare
It’s always good to be prepared when crises and natural disasters are concerned as you never know when they might strike and having a plan of action, supplies and the information you need could save your life.
Things to do before you go:
- read all available advice on the destination you are travelling to
- find out what kind of help you can get and who from in different types of crises
- take out travel insurance
Things to do once you’re overseas:
- regularly contact with your friends and family so they know what you’re doing or where you are
- keep your passport up to date along with any visas as during a crisis the local UK passport or visa services may close and could cause you more issues
- if you’re in possession of a vehicle make sure it always has enough fuel
If you’re working abroad:
- make sure you are aware of and understand your company’s evacuation policies and processes
- ensure your employer has the details of your next of kin
- converse with your employer or colleagues and consider preparing an ‘emergency kit’ containing a first aid kit, food, water and anything else you could need. You may also want to do this at home
What to do if you’re caught in a crisis?
Similarly, if a crisis does occur whilst you’re overseas there are some actions you should take:
- contact friends and family – don’t panic them but make them aware of the situation and inform them of your plan/location. Keep them updated should the crisis continue
- if a threatening episode of civil or political unrest takes place you should think about leaving the country if you or the government deem safe to do so
- carry on checking alerts and news updates and make sure you follow the advice of the local authorities
- avoid demonstrations or large gatherings and keep a low profile, don’t draw attention to yourself
- if you’re only visiting the country for a short time keep in touch with your airline or tour operator and if you’re staying at a hotel recognize the relevant emergency procedures in place
Who can help?
If you’re a British National involved in a crisis overseas the good news is that there is a certain level of support available to you depending on the severity of your situation.
You can contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) or a British Embassy by telephone if you need assistance and they will advise you about the help you can receive during the crisis. Sometimes there may be a hotline set up so look out for this as it will be advertised. The support will be focused on those most vulnerable and most at risk and in some cases, the aid may be limited. Nonetheless, if you feel jeopardized or in danger it’s important you seek help and advice.
What to do if you can’t leave the country?
In the worst-case scenario, you may wish to leave the country but due to transportation disruptions, this is not doable. If this happens you should:
- follow the advice of the local authorities, although frustrating you don’t want to risk putting yourself in danger
- in touch with your airline and insurer if you’re a short stay visitor
- call the FCO for help and advice from the diplomatic agents
- at the time of the crisis, there will be many ways you can request help depending on where the crisis is happening and what type of emergency it is. You will be able to speak to someone face to face or contact the crisis team by phone or internet
Being affected by a crisis whilst overseas can be an incredibly difficult and emotional time, being prepared in advance can help to relieve some of this pressure and in turn may help you to act more efficiently and effectively if it happens.