When natural disasters strike while you’re traveling

January 17, 2020
Photo by Dante Pamintuan/Instagram

It has been a few days since the Taal Volcano in the Luzon island of the Philippines erupted after years of unrest. Since January 12, the immediate vicinity of the country’s second most active volcano remains in a state of calamity as they deal with the aftermath of ashfall that reached as far as the capital of Manila about 100 kilometers away.

Taal Volcano is still on Alert Level 4 (hazardous eruption imminent) according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).  There are even reports that its “eruption activity could last from 3 days to 7 months.”

With satellite headquarters in Manila, we at Lemi are prompted to think of all the Filipinos and many travelers visiting the country who have been or remain affected by this natural disaster. We can never really predict when Mother Nature decides to show us her true power, so it is always important to be vigilant.

Below, we have compiled important things to remember when you are caught in the middle of a calamity while you’re traveling.

  1. Immediately make contact with family, friends, and your embassy when you get access to a working phone or Internet. This is when minute by minute Facebook status updates work best.
  2. Get travel insurance. Seek medical attention at the nearest clinic when you feel ill or are injured!
  3. Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid destructed power lines and damaged structures. Evacuate to safe zones in case of water surges and land or mudslides. In the case of volcanic ash, hazardous gases, or flying rocks, seek shelter indoors, close all windows, doors, and ventilation. Use eye protection and wear a dust mask.
  4. Use battery-powered flashlights instead of candles, gas lanterns, or torches. Try to avoid adding more fuel to fire.
  5. Protect your valuables. In this case: passport, IDs, mobile phone, portable chargers, and cash. Keep this close to your person. Get your hands on a First Aid Kit if you can.
  6. Take safety precautions seriously. Carry a sanitizer, drink only bottled water, have a small medicine dispenser that contains the following: aspirin, pain reliever, paracetamol or ibuprofen, and antihistamines.
  7. Easier said than done, but times like this require you to stay calm and compliant to avoid putting yourself and others at further risk.
  8. Do your due diligence. Research before booking a trip or cancel a booking on the onset of a natural disaster.
  9. If you are in a moving vehicle, stop somewhere safe; far from buildings, bridges, trees, and wires. Stay inside as much as possible!
  10. If you are trapped, avoid moving too much and kicking dust. Tap onto concretes/metal to be located. This is when carrying a small whistle doesn’t seem to be such a bad idea sometimes.