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Preparing for Disaster

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Courtesy Divers Alert Network (DAN)

Recent storms have reminded us all too vividly that natural disasters do, and will continue to, occur. The locations that we love to travel to the most are often remote and prone to hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. Keep yourself safe everywhere you travel this year – learn how to deal with the realities of natural disasters, and how to recognize when it’s best to reschedule or cancel a trip, before you go. 

Avoid disasters whenever possible

Hurricanes and tropical storms, however, are not adventures, and no matter how excited you are to experience a new location, or visit an old favorite, it is critical that you follow the guidelines and travel warnings that come with serious storms. Travelling into the path of a disaster puts you at risk, and providing for you after a major storm takes resources away from first responders and locals who did not choose to be in the path of a storm. Reschedule your trip, or choose another location if a natural disaster is imminent, and you’ll be helping to lessen the local demand on first responders and local resources. 

Prepare for cancellations

After all the effort and money you’ve put into planning the perfect dive trip, it can be difficult to objectively evaluate when it’s best to cancel a trip. Whether it’s too costly to reschedule, too complicated, or both, it’s important to recognize that pushing yourself to follow through on a trip to a potentially dangerous location puts you in harm’s way, even if the resources are available for you to dive, and conditions are acceptable. Consider not just the condition of your destination, but the safety of all the areas you’ll have to travel through. Trip insurance is a good way to remove finances and logistics from the equation – without a looming financial loss pushing you to make unsafe decisions, you’re more likely to call off a vacation to a potential disaster area. If you do become trapped in an area affected by a disaster, many types of travel insurance will also have provisions for rescue or evacuation; when airlines are overbooked or unable to operate, you’ll have a safe option to remove yourself from an unsafe situation. 

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

Major weather events can render even the best infrastructure or emergency planning systems useless, and down communication systems, sewage and water supplies, and electrical systems for days or weeks at a time. In areas that are less developed, these system failures can last for months or years. Plan to prepare for those outages if you do get stuck in a disaster area, and consider what you’ll do if you need medical care and can’t reach qualified help. Priority resources and attention will be given to children, the elderly, and the ill in emergency situations – not panicking travelers, and you may have to provide water, food, communication, and basic medical care for yourself until the area returns to normal. All of these situations can be handled safely and comfortably, but they do require extra planning and preparation on your part. 

For more safe travel tips, visit DAN.Org/Health