Washington, D.C., — Do your summer plans include international travel? If you will be driving across a border or flying or sailing to a foreign country, the American Red Cross has some steps you can take to help stay safe.
1. Print a copy of your passport, important phone numbers and travel information to take with you. Don’t rely on only keeping information in your cell phone in case you lose it.
2. Download the American Red Cross First Aid app that puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Whether you’re in the United States or abroad, arming yourself with basic first aid skills can save a life. Be sure to download the app while still in the United States, otherwise you’ll download the local Red Cross or Red Crescent’s mobile app (which will be in the local language).
3. Make a plan. Just like at home, it’s important to establish a time and place to meet family members in case you get separated.
4. Know what natural disasters are possible. Research whether your destination could have emergencies you’ve never experienced. The Red Cross offers basic tips about what to do during natural disasters like tsunamis, volcanoes and hurricanes.
5. Register your trip with the State Department. Enter your travel details with the free online Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which allows the State Department to better assist you in an emergency while you are abroad. You can also get information about safety conditions in the country you’re planning to visit.
6. Carry contact details for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate with you in case of an emergency while traveling.
7. Check out the State Department’s ‘What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis’ and have an evacuation plan that doesn’t rely on the U.S. government.
8. Keep your destination country’s emergency numbers handy. You know to use 9-1-1 in the United States, but how will you reach the fire department, police or an ambulance while traveling? Find your destination country on this reference sheet from the State Department and write down the emergency numbers before you take off.
9. Know the six-month passport rule. Some countries deny travelers entry if their passport expires in less than six months. Renew your passport about nine months before the expiration date.
10. Let your credit card company know where you will be visiting and when. This way, they won’t think your card is stolen and shut it off just when you need it the most.
11. Pack your International Certificate of Vaccination. Also referred to as the “yellow card,” it lists your immunizations, allergies and blood type. The “yellow card” is available from your physician or local health department.
12. Bring medications, bug repellant. If you’re traveling somewhere with mosquito-borne illnesses—such as malaria, dengue, or Zika—be sure to spray repellant and/or cover your arms and legs with lightweight clothing at critical times of the day. Don’t forget your medications and it’s a good idea to bring an over-the-counter pain reliever and something for an upset stomach.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.