There was an old insurance ad that claimed something along the lines of "better to have insurance and not need it, than need it and not have it". There is truth reflected in that saying. Most of us only think about safety planning, when we are in imminent trouble...or already in the middle of a crisis. Many people believe in "out of sight, out of mind" as if not recognizing the possible negative outcome of a situation would prevent it from happening.
We cannot control Mother Nature. It has surprised us over and over. Earlier this month we had a two devastating hurricanes, tropical storms, tornado and tsunami alerts and two massive earthquakes impact across our region. These natural disasters may only last minutes, but they can cause enormous damage.
Everybody could potentially be in danger at some point. However, as a local, whether you plan it or not, you are familiar with the options you have, the place, the government institutes that can help and so on. Being an expat in a foreign land and having a ton of day to day matters to adapt to and deal with, which does not leave a lot of room for safety planning. And its such an important matter!
Expats should become familiar with the place and the emergency services available. Are they aware of their company's safety policy and protocols? Does their relocation provider offer assistance and emergency numbers during their Orientation and introduction to the country? We recommend that expats take a moment to get to know their building's evacuation path, create an emergency kit that includes personal records that might come in handy. Also, for those who do need help, social media is a place where it can be found. When disaster strikes, dedicated hashtags are created, which are then promoted by the authorities. Try to follow trusted sources, Government agencies and the local weather service and of course act accordingly.
As always, common sense and a positive attitude go a long way! Hopefully you will never need to go through a natural disaster, but if so, it's better to be prepared.
Written by Eleonora Villalba
LARM Venezuela Country Director