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Posts Tagged ‘travel warnings’

Summer Travel Safety

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Summer is the most popular time to travel. Despite this, the steady stream of recent terrorist attacks threatens to turn vacation dreams into holiday nightmares. Within the last two months in Britain alone–which was long considered a safe haven for international tourists–has been hit by a number of attacks, including one at a concert in Manchester that left 22 people dead and 116 injured, another at London Bridge which killed eight people and injured 48, and a third last week outside a mosque, which killed one person and injured 11.

And the threat of terrorism is not limited to the United Kingdom. In fact, so far already in 2017, 615 attacks have left 4,180 dead globally. Here are a few recent examples:

Terrorism is not the only travel-related safety matter. Civil unrest and public health also make the list of relevant concerns. Thankfully, the U.S. State Department issues travel alerts and warnings to help Americans select wise travel destinations long before booking flights, hotels and rental cars.

Travel Alerts

Travel Alert are issued for short-term events. Examples include:

  • An election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations or disturbances
  • A health alert like an outbreak of H1N1 flu virus
  • Evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks
  • Once a short-term event has passed, the associated Travel Alert is canceled.

Travel Warnings

Travel Warnings are issued when travelers should carefully consider whether they should travel to a country at all. They remain in place until the situation changes. Some have been in effect for several years. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Warning might include:

  • Unstable government
  • Civil war
  • Ongoing intense crime or violence
  • Frequent terrorist attacks

How to Be Safe While Traveling

  • Assess risks. Check out active travel alerts and warnings before you book travel. While you are away, pay attention to your surroundings. Report suspicious activity to local police.
  • Prepare documents. Before you leave, research topic like entry/exit requirements, visas, laws, customs, medical care and road safety for countries you plan to visit. Write down contact details to carry with you for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in case of emergency while traveling.
  • Plan. Double check that vaccinations are up to date. Make an evacuation plan. Consider purchasing emergency evacuation insurance. Schedule regular check-in times using an app like WhatsApp to stay in touch with family and friends for free.
  • Mind your money. Notify bank and credit card companies of your travel plans and check exchange rates.
  • Safeguard Paperwork! Make two copies of travel documents in case of emergency. Leave one copy with a trusted friend or relative at home and carry the other separately from original documents. To help prevent theft, never carry your passport in your back pocket. Separate your passport from cash and credit cards.
  • Enjoy your trip! Don’t let the threat of disaster derail your plans for an enjoyable vacation. If you prepare to be safe while you’re away, you will be able to reap the reward of a restful holiday. For more travel tips, check out our post about summer-safe travel.

Safe travel is important for everyone all year round, not just during summer. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Summer Travel Safety Tips

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Dynamite bomb in bag in airport. Terrorism concept.The recent attack in the Istanbul Airport was a grim reminder of the reasons the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was forced to adopt stringent security protocols in airports throughout the world. Unfortunately, the emphasis on security equates to excessively long lines at security checkpoints, thousands of missed flights, and mounting aggravation among travelers. In fact, according to a report done in May 2016, on American Airlines, alone, more than 70,000 passengers missed flights due to TSA-related delays.

Despite the frustration, most travelers are willing to endure security measures because they realize the importance of airline travel safety. But there are additional steps you can take to ensure your safety as you travel by air this summer:

Overseas Travel

Before heading overseas, check the U.S. Department of State website which advises U.S travelers about the safety or lack thereof relative to foreign destinations. The site provides travel alerts, which are short-term advisories tied to specific events; and travel warnings, which are recommendations about countries which should be avoided, altogether. Some areas currently included on the travel warnings’ list include Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Turkey, and Ukraine.Wooden blocks with the text, TERRORISM, on the background of world map

Even those destinations not currently included on an active warning list could prove problematic, as intelligence gathering is an inexact science. But don’t let that keep you from traveling. According to the National Safety Council, Americans are 353 times more likely to die from a slip-and-fall accident than from a terrorist attack. And data released by the CDC asserts that we are 110 times more likely to die from contaminated food than from an act of terror. So don’t  ignore the risks. Just don’t let fear keep you from enjoying a vacation or traveling for business.

Tips for safe and comfortable overseas travel

  • Be respectful of others’ cultures and institutions. If, for example, the recommended dress code for visiting a church/holy site/mosque requires you to cover your arms and legs, respect the request.
  • Learn basic native-language phrases. If you speak English and are traveling to a country with limited English speakers, take the time to learn and practice words to help you make basic requests.
  • Avoid large crowds or protests where there is an elevated risk of danger. For more about this, check out our recent post about safety during civil unrest.
  • Add the S. Embassy’s 24—Hour Hotline to your cellphone contacts.
  • Carry your hotel’s native language business card to show cab drivers and police, if necessary.
  • Take pictures of your passport photo, driver’s license and credit cards and email them to yourself. Keeping the photos on your phone instead of emailing them is inadvisable your phone could be lost or stolen.
  • Avoid confrontation whenever possible. Don’t attract attention by arguing with someone unnecessarily. Try to calmly settle disagreements, especially if you are in a crowded setting.

Airport Screening Security TrayAirport Security and Safety

Situational awareness is essential when navigating airports and all related security procedures. For example, if you see someone leave a bag on the ground for an extended period, alert airport police. Will this mean that you and other travelers might potentially miss your flight due to security protocols? Yes! But it’s important to follow the Department of Homeland Security’s request that “If You See Something, Say Something.”

  • Only allow official personnel to inspect or move your luggage. Always keep an eye on your belongings. This is especially important in curbside loading/unloading areas where people have not been screened. Someone could potentially tamper with your luggage before you check it in and you could unwittingly carry an incendiary device on board with you.
  • Keep your tickets and passports close to your person at all times, not dangling out of your purse or pocket or resting on top of your bags.
  • Watch your valuables go through x-ray machines and pick them up as quickly as possible. Loudly alert security staff if you see someone pick up your bag or loose articles such as your watch or wallet.
  • Don’t make jokes about “terrorists” or “bombs” or other loaded language. TSA agents and foreign airport officials are working to keep you safe. Making this kind of a joke could land you in serious trouble.

Remember that safety is a daily priority – whether you are working at home or traveling the globe. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Safe Springtime Travel

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Terrorist has dynamite bomb in jacket. Train approaching underground station.A series of bomb explosions at Brussels Airport and a metro station in the city this week have led to heightened travel alerts across the world. Based on these events, as well as numerous other recent terrorist attacks, it is imperative that travelers exercise caution this spring. Our hearts go out to everyone whose life was affected by the Brussels’ attacks.

According to Orbitz, each March, 55 percent of college students travel by plane to celebrate Spring Break, with the most popular destinations including Las Vegas, Cancun and Punta Cana, Mexico. But young adults are not the only springtime wanderers. To wit, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is reportedly preparing to screen more than 65.1 million travelers over the 2016 Spring Break travel season. With the ever-present threat of terrorism, airline passengers can rest assured that safety is the top priority for TSA.security check

“Our dedicated officers do their absolute best to screen passengers both effectively and efficiently, with a primary focus on traveler security,” said Peter V. Neffenger, TSA administrator. “We want to ensure that everyone arrives at their destination safely, while at all times, providing the highest standards of security screening possible.”

But don’t trust your safety entirely to others. Here are five common sense steps you can take to guarantee your own safe travels this Spring Break season:

  1. Remain alert. The less you have to do while at the airport, the more focused and prepared you will be to remain alert about your surroundings. If possible, print boarding passes prior to arriving at the airport or go paperless by downloading the appropriate app onto your smartphone. Arrive early to allow enough time to park, print your boarding pass, check baggage, and proceed through the checkpoint.Vector illustration of airline boarding pass
  2. Keep calm. Passengers who violate rules will cause delays for themselves and everyone behind them. So do your part to keep a lid on traveler rage. Pack liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in compliance with the 3-1-1 liquids rule. And avoid wearing large metal jewelry or clothing with large metal embellishments to reduce the possibility of alarming the screening machine.
  3. Watch your stuff. Thieves often case populated places like airports, looking for easy marks. Make sure your purse and carry-on bag are zipped and that your wallet is out of site. If you appear to know what you are doing, you won’t appeal to opportunistic muggers and pickpockets, who will move on to easier prey. Also, if you pay attention to your own belongings, you will be prepared to quickly identify unmanned baggage. If you see an unattended suitcase, report it immediately to airline security.

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  4. Blend in. Refrain from carrying large quantities of cash. With the prevalence of ATMs in virtually every location, you don’t need to carry large sums of cash. Bring small amounts and keep your credit and debit cards close at hand, to protect yourself from unauthorized purchases as well as identity theft. Also, try to blend in with locals. Pull your camera out only when you’re ready to use it. Watch your footing when taking selfies. And refrain from looking at maps while you are standing in the middle of a crowded public square.
  5. Stay informed. If you are traveling internationally, in advance of your flight, check on travel warnings and alerts released by the state department. Examples of reasons for issuing a travel warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. Alerts might include an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations, or disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of H1N1; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks. For example, the U.S. Embassy has released a security message relative to the current situation in Brussels. For domestic travel, check with your airline carrier for flight delays and other updates. Security Alert

Remember that safety is a daily priority. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not just while you are traveling. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.