What to Do If a Traumatic Event Occurs During Your Vacation
The shooting in Las Vegas affected not only the victims on the ground, but also their loved ones across the world. This is just a recent example of traumatic events hurting popular tourist locations. Others include the wildfires in Napa Valley (also known as California’s wine country) and hurricanes hitting various islands and locations in the Atlantic. What do all of these things have in common? Tourists who are terrified and unsure of what to do next.
Here are a few things to do, but first and foremost, don’t panic. Remain as calm as possible, since panic can lead people to do drastic, crazy things with potentially bad consequences.
Communicate With Your Loved Ones and Your Travel Partners
If your cell phone has a signal, reach out to your family and close friends to let them know that you’re okay. You’ll also need to seek out your travel partners – anyone that you’re currently traveling with, whether they are a part of your tour group, business colleagues, or your family and friends – to make sure that everyone is all right and accounted for. You’re always safer in a group after something traumatic has happened, and you can comfort each other, since you’ve all been through the same event.
Mark Yourself “Safe” On Social Media
Again, if you can access your social media apps, take a moment or two to mark yourself as “safe.” This may seem like a waste of time, especially if you’ve just talked to your close family, but don’t forget that you have plenty of extended friends and family who may be worried about you. Law enforcement also keeps an eye on these posts, especially the ones on Facebook, so if someone reports you missing to your local police, they can check to see that you’re safe and not waste precious resources looking for you.
Download Useful Apps Beforehand
There are a number of communication apps that work using Wi-Fi, but not a cell phone signal, such as Skype. If your cell signal has gone out, but you still miraculously have internet access, use Skype or your phone’s Wi-Fi calling option to reach out. You can also use Bridgefy, FireApp, and Hike, all of which let you send messages without Wi-Fi or a cell signal. However, these apps have a very limited range of around 200 feet. Another good app to have is called Signal Offline Messenger, which allows to put a text message in send mode and leave it pending. The second that your phone gets a signal, the message will be sent.
Find a Local Store That Sells SIM Cards
If you’re having a hard time connecting to loved ones with your cell phone, go out in search of a store that sells local SIM cards. These cards work in phones that run on T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T networks, and they can help you contact the outside world. Convenience stores and pharmacy chains both tend to sell various types of SIM cards at inexpensive prices.
Travel To Where You Can Get a Cell Phone Signal
This one seems obvious, but in the aftermath of a tragedy, most people stop thinking clearly. It’s just a side effect of dealing with everything. If you’re in a location where you can’t get a cell phone signal, and are able to move around from one area to another, go out in search of one. You might get lucky and find a strong signal, which you can then use to reach out to emergency services and loved ones.
Ask Hotel Employees for Advice
Every hotel has an emergency plan that they put into place should a terrorist attack or natural disaster occur. If you find yourself stuck and not sure what to do next, ask someone at the front desk. They can help you find what you need, whether it’s a working electrical socket, directions to your local embassy, or even a reassuring hug.
Seek Out Your Local Embassy or Government Representative
This is the most important step, because you might have lost your passport and travel documents. Your local embassy can help you with all of that, as well as make you feel safe. However, if there’s a terrorist attack on foreign soil and you’re an American citizen, you may not be able to enter the U.S. embassy right away, as they go into what’s called “lock down mode” until the threat is over. Instead, seek out the British or Australian embassies instead. They won’t turn away a U.S. citizen, and while they may not be able to help you deal with your lost passport, they will do what they can.
Have a Backup Battery for Your Phone
Last but not least, always carry either a back up battery for your cell phone or a fully charged power bank with you when you’re traveling. Both of these things are lightweight and small enough to slip into a pocket or a handbag. You never know when you’ll be able to charge your phone again, and you don’t want to lose your only way to contact the outside world.