travel safety earthquake damage - danger keep out

Travel safety podcast: How to stay safe in a natural disaster

No-one wants to imagine an earthquake or flood ruining their travels (or happening at all!) but travel safety advice can help you survive a natural disaster.

Craig Bidois, today’s guest from, has trained over 15,000 people in travel security, from soldiers in the Middle East to humanitarian workers in Africa. We speak with Craig about travel safety and surviving a natural disaster.

To listen to our interview (and our experience in the 2010 Chilean earthquake), hit play below or find episode 192 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

Common reactions to sudden shocks are:
Fright … this makes sense, but you must stay calm.
Flee … To get away from danger as soon as possible, or get down low.
Freeze … By not allowing your body to react, you put yourself at greater risk.

Keep yourself safe, and trust your body’s natural reactions to get you through the immediate danger.


travel safety earthquake damage - danger keep out

When earthquakes hit, take shelter away from buildings and trees.

If inside:

  • Get under a solid support, such as a table.
  • Stay away from windows, which are likely to implode.

If outside:

  • Get away from structures.
  • Move into the open, but not under a tree.
  • Lie down.


travel safety tsunami wave

This is not recommended. If tsunami are expected, head for high ground.

When Tsunami are forecast:

  • Get away from the coast: head for the hills.
  • If the land is flat, head up the highest building.


travel safety flooded streets

Avoid flooded regions when possible; have food and water stockpiled.

We often have knowledge of impending floods. If there is a risk, change your plans: stay away or get away from the region.

If you are unable to leave:

  • Stockpile food and drink.
  • Get to the highest possible point.
  • Be prepared for water and power supplies to be cut.

After any disaster:

Expect to spend 24-48 hours looking after yourself and those around you. Emergency response plans focus first on hospitals and VIPs: travellers are likely to be further down the list when it comes to aid.

Expect to be without communication channels, power, gas or water for some time. Be aware that food and water may be contaminated: sterilise whatever you use. Focus on first ensuring your own safety then helping those around you.

As travellers, we are sometimes in the position to be able to help with aid or volunteer labour, but sometimes being there is a drain on resources: much needed beds and food are sometimes better filled by local victims of the disaster. If you can, it might be best to move on then return to help during the clean-up phase.

Tourism is a major player in the economies of many countries and, once it is safe to do so, visiting might be helping significantly. Not only is money pushed into the economy but residents can be encouraged by your solidarity. Cash and goodwill are both important players in a region’s recovery.

This is especially pertinent now in New Zealand and Japan, where large earthquakes have recently damaged tourism. Take a look at the stories about New Zealand from the Blog4NZ campaign or the current Blog4Japan fundraising promotion being run.

To listen, hit play above or check in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

Craig Martin from Indie Travel Podcast and Craig Bidois from FearFree are currently working on a book on Travel Safety. If you’d like to know when it’s launched, you can visit Travel Safety Book and sign up for information. You can also ask your own travel safety questions — from disasters to warzones — in our travel safety forum.

Are you prepared for the unexpected?

A scam, a sickness, an emergency?

Our Travel Safety book will put you back in control of potentially dangerous situations.

Co-written by Craig Martin of Indie Travel Podcast and ex-UN Safety and Security trainer Craig Bidois, this is road-tested safety advice for all travellers.

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3 Responses to “Travel safety podcast: How to stay safe in a natural disaster”

  1. travelettes April 18, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    thanks for this post! with the recent wave of natural desastres i’ve been thinking about this topic quite a bit and wondered what i would do if i was ever involved.

    • Craig and Linda April 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

      That’s kind of what we were thinking too! There are lots of personal reactions to disasters in the blogosphere, and lots of great initiatives to lend aid or promote a destination, but very little professional information. Hopefully this can help!

  2. Ash May 5, 2011 at 12:57 am #

    I enjoyed reading this post. good luck.

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