Crisis and Disaster Abroad: Be Ready

Whether traveling or living outside of the United States, there are ways you can prepare yourself for a potential crisis.

Be Informed 

  • Thoroughly review our Traveler’s Checklist page that provides details on the Smart Traveler Enrollment Plan, Travel Advisories, emergency assistance, medical care, insurance, and more.

Be Prepared  

  • Have plenty of food and drinking water available in case of a crisis. If you have young children, make sure you have supplies such as diapers, formula, and baby food. If you take medication, make sure to have at least five days’ worth at any given time. It is also recommended to have your prescription handy. If you rely on assistive medical devices, have a backup power supply for your device in the event of a power outage. Your emergency kit should also include your passports, birth certificates for children born overseas, cash in the local currency, a card with local translations of basic terms, and an electrical current converter. If you have pets, be sure to have their food, supplies, and vaccination records.

Be Connected 

  • Keep a list of your emergency contacts handy and create a communication plan for reaching family and friends in the event of a crisis. 

  • Phone lines may be affected during a crisis. Think about other ways to communicate. For example, update your social media status often and send messages as regularly as possible to let friends and family know how you are doing. 

  • Many of our U.S. embassies and consulates, along with the Bureau of Consular Affairs, use social media to provide information – connect with us! TwitterFacebook

  • For more information, see Ways to Contact Loved Ones in a Crisis Abroad

Be Safe 

  • Have an exit strategy! Know more than one way to get to safety without relying on assistance. A crisis event may make some roads unpassable or unsafe. A crisis may also prevent or delay emergency responders’ ability to get to you as there may be many people in need of help. 

  • Follow instructions from local authorities. Monitor local radio, television, social media, and other sources for updates. 

  • If you are staying in a hotel, talk to the staff to be sure you know the hotel’s emergency plan for a variety of crisis events – fire, flood, electrical outage, storms, etc.

  • Keep in touch with hotel staff as well as your tour operators, airline or cruise company, and local officials for instructions.

  • Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if you need emergency help. Please keep in mind that this will not alert emergency responders. If you need emergency medical attention or police assistance, contact local authorities directly if you can. 

Be sure to learn about your destination and potential risks of traveling there on our Country Information Pages, and the CDC website.

Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones

Carefully consider the potential dangers and inconveniences of traveling to storm-prone regions of the world. If you go, make an emergency plan beforehand. 

Hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones are all the same, but they are named differently based on where they occur. They are storms which have a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that start up over tropical or subtropical waters. 



Typical Season

Hurricanes:  Atlantic and Northeast Pacific Ocean   June through November  
Typhoons: Northwest Pacific Ocean June through November
Cyclones: South Pacific and Indian Ocean April through November

Storm surges, high winds, heavy rain, and flooding cause damage to infrastructure like roads, electricity, and phone and internet service. They also cause shortages of habitable places, food, water, and medical facilities. Mudslides and tornadoes add to the damage. Storms can result in airport closures or limit flight availability. U.S. citizens in affected regions may face delays returning home. They may even need to stay in emergency shelters with little food, water, medicine, and other supplies.

Before you go, sign up for our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Stay aware of developments by monitoring local media and the National Hurricane Center or news and weather reports. Minor storms can quickly become hurricanes, limiting the time to get out. If a weather emergency occurs, stay in touch with your tour operator, hotel staff, and local authorities for evacuation instructions. It could save your life.

Other Crises/Disasters:

Prepare for specific potential crises based on your destination. You can learn about your destination on our Country Pages, paying specific attention to the Safety and Security section. 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.  

Transportation Disasters: For information about what to do in an airplane, train, or maritime disaster, seek information from your airline, rail, or cruise line operator. For information about road safety visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s page on Road Safety.

Nuclear, Chemical, and Radiological Disasters: See’s pages on Radiation Emergencies and Chemical Emergencies; the CDC’s page on Radiation Emergencies; and the EPA’s page on Radiation Emergencies and Preparedness

Missile and/or Drone Strikes: In the event of a missile and/or drone strike, you should immediately seek cover. Stay indoors near the ground and avoid falling debris. Monitor local media and contact local authorities and the nearest U.S. embassy for guidance. See also DHS’s page on Explosions.

Additional Information: 

Crisis Assistance

For information on how the Department if State can help in a crisis, see this page: What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis


Have a plan for pets in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency. In the event of a natural disaster, 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, please see our page on Taking a Pet Overseas for information. In addition, FEMA’s Pets and Animals page has 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 organizations and ways to provide help.

Last Updated: February 22, 2024