Non-Natural Disasters

Whether traveling or living outside of the United States, there are ways you can prepare yourself for a non-natural disaster, be it a terrorist attack, a transportation disaster, or other incident:

  • Learn about what disasters may happen in your destination. You can learn about your destination on our Country Pages. Pay special attention to the Safety and Security section.

  • Plan what to do in a crisis overseas. For more information see our page Crisis Abroad: Be Ready.

  • Prepare for specific potential disasters based on your destination. Please note that the websites linked here belong to domestic agencies and are intended for reference only.  If you are overseas, follow the instructions of local authorities.

To prepare for:

Seek the following resources: 

Terrorist Attacks:  See the FBI’s page on Terrorism, and DHS’s pages on Explosions and Attacks in Public Places
Transportation Disasters:

For information about road safety visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s page on Road Safety

For information about what to do in an airplane, train, or maritime disaster, seek information from your airline, rail, or cruise line operator. 

Nuclear, Chemical, and Radiological Disasters:

See DHS’s pages on Nuclear Explosion and Chemical Emergencies; the CDC’s page on Radiation Emergencies; the NRC’s page on Radiological Emergencies; and the EPA’s page on Radiation Emergencies and Preparedness | US EPA

Missile and/or drone strikes:

See DHS’s page on Explosions.

In the event of a missile and/or drone strike, you should:

  • Immediately seek cover.

  • If in a home or a building, go to the lowest level of the structure and stay near interior walls. Close any doors and stay away from exterior walls, windows, and openings.

  • If outdoors, immediately seek cover in a hardened structure; if that is not possible, lie down and cover your head with your hands.

  • Be aware that even if an incoming missile or drone is intercepted, falling debris presents a significant risk. Stay away from any debris after the attack.  Do not approach or disturb a downed missile or drone.  When safe, contact local authorities with a description and location of the hazard.

  • Monitor local media outlets and the nearest U.S. Embassy’s website for updates and official guidance.

Remember: If you see something, say something.

If Disaster Strikes:

  • Follow the instructions of local authorities

  • Contact your loved ones: Even if you are not affected by the crisis directly, your loved ones at home may want to know that you are safe. Consider updating your social media status to check-in as safe.

  • If you need help: Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Contact local authorities if you need emergency medical attention.


Have a plan for pets in the event of a disaster. Please see our page on Taking a Pet Overseas  for information on your options in the event of a crisis overseas. In the event of a crisis involving a U.S. government coordinated evacuation, we are generally not able to provide transportation assistance for your pets. If you decide to travel or live outside of the United States with your pet, visit the pets page for tips to help you plan for the care of pets and animals in a disaster.  

If You Want to Help Following a Disaster Overseas

We strongly discourage you from traveling to the affected area to provide direct assistance. Those who are not trained emergency response officials often end up requiring assistance themselves. Instead, please consider organizations actively providing aid. USAID’s Center for International Disaster Information has information on identifying organizations and providing help. 

Last Updated: May 15, 2023