Tag Archives: earthquake

red case with red cross photo by peggy marco pixabay

How to Be Prepared for an Emergency When You Travel: Simple Steps

When you prepare for a trip, it’s smart to prepare for an emergency too. The threats of political unrest, natural disasters (hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes), and terrorist attacks—both at home and abroad—are not going away any time soon. But by all means don’t focus so much on highly unlikely, spectacular risks that you ignore the mundane risks that are far more likely to do you harm. For example, when I traveled to London, I optimized my family’s safety not by doing anything so extreme as avoiding the Tube (a target of past terrorist attacks) or abstaining from a cricket match at The Oval (another potential target, what with 24,000 spectators in a stadium), but by making sure that we looked both ways when crossing the street (it’s easy to look in the wrong direction in countries where people drive on the left) and that we used a bathmat in our rental apartment so we would not slip and fall in an unfamiliar shower.

In addition to keeping risks in perspective, here’s what I do to be prepared for emergencies when I travel:

Before Your Trip

1. Enroll in STEP.
Signing up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program makes it easier for the U.S. embassy to send you important information about safety conditions, contact you in an emergency, and help family and friends get in touch with you. Enrolling is easy and quick.

2. Activate your phone for overseas use so that, at a minimum, you can send and receive text messages.
That way you can communicate with others in your traveling party via text message, receive STEP security updates and Twitter Alerts (see #14) via text message, etc.

3. Depending on how remote or risky your destination is, consider carrying a satellite phone or satellite text-messaging device.
In an emergency, you could lose your ability to communicate by cell phone. Internet access could be unavailable as well. Satellite devices do not depend on cell-phone or Internet technology and are much less expensive to rent than they used to be. In countries where satellite phones are illegal—India and China, for instance—you can rent a local mobile phone.

4. Whatever your communication device is, carry extra battery power for it.
If you’re using a smartphone, attach a Mophie or carry a charging block; if you’re using a satellite phone, have an additional battery.

5. Choose a hotel in the right neighborhood, with the right TV news channels and high-speed Internet access.
If you’ve got CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera, and fast Wi-Fi, you can easily monitor the news and check local English-language websites for news and help. Pick a hotel that is not located close to a symbolic plaza where protests and traffic jams occur (e.g., Taksim Square in Istanbul, or Tahrir Square in Cairo).

6. Book your trip through the right destination specialist.
This gives you a local fixer, advocate, problem solver. The travel specialists on my WOW List know which areas of their destination are safe and which aren’t, and arrange trips based on the latest on-the-ground intel. They connect you with the savviest drivers and “guides” — more expediters and strategists than traditional tour guides — who have the background and credentials to keep you safe and have access to key people in the country who will take care of you. I know this based not only on personal experience, having traveled under their vigilance, but also based on years of feedback from travelers. For example, when Nepal specialist Toni Neubauer had WendyPerrin.com travelers in Nepal during the 2015 quake, she quickly got them on a flight out of the country. (Read the review of Toni that the travelers, Joe and Rowena Burke, posted on Toni’s reviews page.) At dicey moments, Israel specialist Joe Yudin has kept WendyPerrin.com travelers safe (read Nadika Wignarajan’s review here), Turkey specialist Earl Starkey has as well (read reports from his travelers here). WOW Listers also provide you with the physical tools to stay safe: India specialist Sanjay Saxena, for instance, gives you an in-country mobile phone pre-programmed with numbers for local staff, hotels, emergency services, etc. Of course, his in-country and U.S. staff are available 24/7 as well.

7. Pack certain medicines.
Bring a prescription antibiotic and prescription pain reliever that you know work for you, in case you end up needing to be your own doctor. Bring iodine tablets (or one of the newer technologies) to purify dirty water too, since, in an emergency, bottled water supplies quickly run out.

8. Plot on a paper map where the local embassy, consulate, and best hospitals are.
In an emergency you won’t want to rely on your smartphone or Google Maps app to get you there; you’ll want to save your battery for calls to loved ones, doctors, etc. Know where the best hospitals are—not just for the capital city, which could be hours away from where you are when a crisis strikes, but for other cities too.

9. Purchase an emergency assistance plan.
A MedjetHorizon membership can get you safely out of a crisis situation 24/7 and can also get you out of a foreign hospital and back home to a hospital you know and trust. They can come to the rescue in the event of a terrorist or political threat, violent crime, or if you need a ground ambulance, specialty hospital transfer, or cash advance.

During Your Trip

10. Program your cell phone with emergency numbers.
Remember that 911 does not work for countries outside the USA and Canada. Here’s one list of local emergency numbers, but also ask your hotel concierge for the best numbers for the police, medical emergencies, and someone at your hotel who can help.

11. Carry a mini-flashlight.
You don’t want to get caught in the dark.

12. Carry your hotel’s business card, in the local language.
You can show it to police or taxi drivers to get back to safety quickly.

13. Carry a photocopy of your passport photo page and any visas.

Keep it on your person during the trip, in case the original is back at your hotel (usually the smartest place to keep it) or gets lost in the emergency.

14. Follow relevant Twitter feeds that can provide reliable, accurate updates and potentially life-saving alerts.
Such Twitter feeds will vary by destination and type of emergency. Usually, though, you’ll want to follow the U.S. embassy feed in the country you’re visiting, as well as the U.S. State Department’s feed, @travelgov. The @RedCross and Google’s Crisis Response Team, @GoogleCR, are also worth following, as are the local airport’s feed, which may post updates about airport delays and shutdowns, and the feeds of local hotels, which usually have an emergency action plan and may be offering help or a landline. You can also turn on Twitter Alerts for the feeds relevant to the destination you’re headed to.

15. Know that Google has a person finder and Facebook has a Safety Check feature.
In natural and humanitarian disasters, Google helps track missing persons. When a crisis occurs, Facebook activates its Safety Check feature: If you’re in an affected area, use it to alert friends and family that you’re okay; if you’re at home, you can use it to search for travelers and confirm their status.

If You Have a Trip Booked to an Area Perceived as Risky

* Don’t overreact: Realize that the geographic area affected is limited.

So often, when a crisis strikes a country, U.S. travelers unnecessarily cancel trips to a huge swath of the world surrounding that country. They avoid regions that have not been affected in the least—which would be like Europeans deciding against a trip to New York because there was an earthquake in San Francisco or a terror attack in Orlando. The Italy earthquake was no reason to cancel a trip to Tuscany, the same way the Nice attack was no reason to cancel a trip to the Dordogne.

* Don’t confuse the probability of an incident with the probability of becoming the victim of that incident.
Is it virtually certain that there will be another terrorist attack in Europe this year?  Yes.  Does that translate into a high degree of risk for the individual traveler to Europe?  No.

* Understand the psychological reasons why your fear of a terrorist attack is out of proportion to the risk—and why you fear a terrorist attack more than an earthquake.
I explain it in my article 7 Keys to Traveling Without Fear Despite Terrorist Attacks.

* Know where the real dangers lie.
Remember that the single biggest cause of death for Americans traveling overseas is motor vehicle accidents.


Be a smarter traveler: Follow Wendy Perrin on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Day of the Dead celebrations in Oaxaca, Mexico

A Mexico Trip That Will Help Earthquake Victims

The destruction caused by the earthquakes in Mexico was devastating. If you want to support relief and rebuilding efforts, we have a list of relief organizations accepting donations. But if you’re looking for additional ways to make a difference, we just heard of one from Zachary Rabinor, Wendy’s Trusted Travel Expert for Mexico. Originally from New York City, Zach has lived in Puerto Vallarta for years, raising his family there and running his company Journey Mexico (which he started in 2003). He not only knows the lay of the land, but he’s part of the community there, which means that in times of crisis like this, he is very tuned in to where help is needed now and how to deliver it.

He emailed us this morning with some information and an interesting travel opportunity that will support aid workers: One of the areas hardest hit by the first earthquake and the latest aftershock was the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the state of Oaxaca. Zach and his company have a special connection to that area, especially the village of Juchitan, because it is the family home of one of their staff members, Alejandro Gómez. Zach told us that the village suffered great damage from the quakes and that Alejandro’s own grandmother is unable to return to her home. As many travel companies and hotels have been doing, Journey Mexico jumped in to help their own, raising funds to rebuild Juchitan’s homes (so far, they have about US $2,600—and matched every dollar donated 2:1—and are hoping to raise more). “We send the funds to one of our most trusted guides in the region, who is organizing supplies and driving them from Huatulco to Juchitan,” Zach explained.

In addition, Zach told us that Journey Mexico has come up with a creative way to direct funds into the relief effort while simultaneously promoting Mexican tourism (which needs the help). They are running a small group tour in Oaxaca, which has 2 (out of 14) spaces open. Journey Mexico will donate 50% of the trip fee ($4,377/person) to relief efforts.

The trip is pegged to the Day of the Dead, an important Mexican festival in which the spirits of loved ones are welcomed back to earth. The colorful, vibrant celebration is often misunderstood by outsiders, but this tour aims to change that and open visitors’ eyes to other riches of the area: the UNESCO World Heritage city of Oaxaca, the sacred sites of Monte Alban and Mitla, lots of markets, and of course plenty of traditional food and beverages (including mezcal). “It’s an opportunity to experience one of Mexico’s most remarkable celebrations while helping the relief efforts in the Isthmus,” Zach said.

For those interested in making donations to the relief efforts, Journey Mexico has put together a list of options (and we have an additional list of aid organizations related to all the recent natural disasters). He also noted Journey Mexico is glad to receive donations toward its own work, “however, as we’re not a registered 501C3 non-profit institution, we are unable to provide documentation that will allow tax deductions for charitable giving.”

Caribbean Hurricane and Mexican Earthquake Relief: How Travelers Can Help

This month has been one natural disaster after another. First Texas was hit by Hurricane Harvey, and then Hurricane Irma arrived— a Category Five storm that tore across the Atlantic with 185mph winds and wreaked havoc on Caribbean and U.S. islands, including Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cuba, the Florida Keys, Haiti, and more. The death toll was at least 37 in the Caribbean (plus 12 in the U.S.), and the storm left millions of people without homes, power, and basic necessities. Right on its heels, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, the strongest storm to hit the island in 80 years, leaving 100% of the residents without power and with months of clean-up. Almost simultaneously, a trio of earthquakes rocked Mexico, causing untold damage and killing at least 300.

International relief organizations are working tirelessly in the immediate aftermath, but it’s clear that the recovery efforts are going to be long ones in the Caribbean, Mexico, and in the U.S.

As travelers and global citizens, we gratefully enjoy these destinations in the good times—which is why we now feel compelled to do our part in the rough times. Readers have written in asking how they can help, and we’ve compiled a list of organizations in need of donations below. You can also check the website and Facebook page of your own favorite Caribbean and Mexican hotels and attractions. Many are launching individual funds to provide for their employees.

One such fund on our list was set up by Bruce Jakubovitz, a loyal WOW List traveler and owner of the now destroyed Summit Hotel on St. Maarten. Bruce’s parents bought the hotel in 1973. “I spent 44 years growing up there,” he told us on the phone, “from the time I was a teenager to my college years, to my wife coming down there when we were first dating, and my kids visiting since they were infants. I refer to the head of housekeeping as my second mom because she’s known me for so long.” Sadly, like many other hotels on St. Maarten, the Summit was completely destroyed by Irma. Entire floors of buildings were blown off, the pool deck was gusted away, and other structures were completely flattened. Thankfully no one was hurt, but as Bruce points out, it’s the staff that’s suffering now. “Some lost their homes entirely, some lost vehicles or property, some had family whose homes were destroyed,” he said. “There’s no one on St. Maarten who wasn’t touched by this. It’s just staggering.” And this is just one example of the devastation that hit so many islands during the storm. There are so many more.

According to the Center for International Disaster Information (part of the U.S. Agency for International Development Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance), monetary donations are the best way to help those impacted by natural disasters. So instead of trying to collect clothes or supplies to ship overseas, consider a financial donation if you truly want to help. The reason: Money enables relief organizations to buy exactly what they need, when they need it, and to purchase those supplies in the most convenient, nearby locations. Conversely, material donations end up creating additional costs and logistical complications for relief organizations, including shipping fees, additional customs fees and taxes, and the necessity that a person be on-site in the affected area to receive and then distribute the items. For more explanation, see the CIDI website. And to learn more about any organization you are considering supporting, you can research their ratings (usually based on factors such as financial and programmatic backgrounds) at GiveWellCharity NavigatorCharity Watch, and the Better Business Bureau.

All Locations

Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Whereas many relief organizations focus on the immediate challenge of rescuing survivors and supplying food, water, and shelter to those affected (and rightly so), it’s clear that the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma is going to require long-term recovery assistance. That’s the CDP’s focus. A nonprofit formed after the 2004 tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, the CDP is not an on-the-ground relief provider, but rather a group dedicated to helping donors make more informed and more effective choices. In its FAQ, CDP explains: “In response to the needs that will arise following this devastating storm, the CDP Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund will focus on medium and long-term rebuilding needs. We expect the long-term needs to be rebuilding homes, businesses, infrastructure, meeting the needs of young children, supporting mental health needs, and boosting damaged agricultural sectors. CDP will distribute the funds 2-9 months from now to appropriate nonprofit organizations working on mid-term and long-term recovery efforts.” Read more and donate here.

Center for International Disaster Information

Although CIDI is not a relief organization itself, it is very useful as a central bank of information about relief efforts and organizations. Its website lists organizations involved in relief projects for all of this season’s natural distasters, with links to their sites, including the following:

Direct Relief

Direct Relief is a nongovernmental, nonsectarian, and not-for-profit humanitarian aid organization that offers assistance programs in the areas  of health, disease prevention and emergency preparedness and response. They are active in every U.S. state and more than 80 countries—including Mexico City when the earthquake hit. Their website provides regular reports on damage status in this season’s affected areas, as well as a donation page where you can select the fund you’d like to support. Read more here.

Global Giving

Global Giving is a fund-raising site that pools donations and distributes them among locally driven relief organizations that it vets for transparency, accountability, and adherence to relevant government regulations. Any organization that passes muster and is admitted into the Global Giving community then has to continue to submit regular reports to stay in it. More than 165 organizations are currently on that list, including ones working on relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, the Mexico earthquake, and more. Read more and donate here.

Individual GoFundMe and KindFund Campaigns

Some individual families, organizations, hotels, and community groups have set up direct personal campaigns on the crowdsourcing donation sites GoFundMe and KindFund. The monetary goals are often pretty small, but the stories are no less moving than the ones that have made big news. For example, in the Caribbean, we’ve seen pleas to help evacuate family members, to repair a Chabad community center, and to assist employees of the aforementioned Summit Hotel, the decimated resort owned by a traveler in our WendyPerrin.com community. While GoFundMe is the better known site of this kind and has more campaigns (including convenient individual pages that round up campaigns for Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, and the Mexico earthquakes), KindFund takes half the fees that GoFundMe does—which means more of your donation goes to the people who really need it.

Samaritan’s Purse

This Christian evangelical relief organization has been providing assistance in disaster areas since 1970. They are currently helping in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean. “They were one of the first into St. Maarten and they’ve done a terrific job,” Bruce told us. “So if you don’t have a specific resort or people to give to, by all means these general purpose organizations are great.” Read more and donate here.

Caribbean and Puerto Rico

The Summit Resort Hotel in St. Maarten is just one hotel destroyed by Hurricane Irma

The Summit Resort Hotel in St. Maarten is just one hotel destroyed by Hurricane Irma.

Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross

Barbuda was one of the first tragedies of Hurricane Irma. The tiny island (one half of the dual-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda) is largely underwater, 95% of its structures are destroyed, and most of its residents have finally managed to flee. The damage is estimated at more than $100 million. Read more and donate here.

Bahamas Red Cross

The Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas was unscathed by the hurricane, but it has rallied to the side of its neighbors by offering to match every dollar donated—one for one—to the Bahamas Red Cross and to Red Cross efforts in Florida. The campaign runs through October 31. Read more and donate here.

Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency

This inter-governmental organization coordinates relief efforts across its 18 participating states (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Republic of Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands and the Virgin Islands.) So far, CDEMA is doing a great job of collecting updates from member states and compiling the info into a Situation Report PDF that details assistance efforts, damage statuses, and a list of needed items. Donate here.

Caribbean Tourism Organization

The CTO has 27 members, some of which were affected by the hurricane. The money collected by the CTO Relief Fund is funneled to the ministry of tourism for each affected country. Read more about the CTO here and donate here.

Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and Tourism Cares are two arms of the region’s tourism industry; they have joined forces via this fund that will focus on helping the islands rebound their tourism industry. According to the fund statement on the CHTA website, the money raised will be used for training and education initiatives for displaced and affected travel professionals; the restoration of attractions and cultural tourism nonprofits, like historical monuments, public spaces, or destroyed visitor centers; and more. The goal is to have the islands ready for visitors again by spring and summer 2018. Read more and donate here.

Facebook’s matching campaign

To support those affected by Hurricane Irma and Maria, Facebook will match donations to Save the Children up to $1 million. You can read more about the campaign on Facebook here, and donate through your own feed (informational posts are showing up in everyone’s feeds) or through Save the Children’s Facebook page.

NYC and FDNY Donation Drive for Puerto Rico

New York City has close ties to Puerto Rico, so it’s not surprising that the citizens across the city have jumped to action. In addition to notable Puerto Rican residents (Jennifer Lopez, Yankee Alex Rodriguez, ) donating large sums of money to relief efforts, the city Fire Department and Mayor Bill DeBlasio are running a collection drive for five specific, critically needed items (and those items only), which will be delivered to the ravaged island. There are collection points at 18 fire houses and EMS stations in all five boroughs. The five items are: diapers, baby food, batteries, first-aid supplies, and feminine hygiene products. Read more here.

Note: Per the website, all donated items must be non-perishable, not second-hand, nor contain any liquids of any kind. Open or unsealed donations of food or hygiene supplies will not be accepted. Wet wipes will also not be accepted. Any other items will be kindly returned.


Artist have come together to raise funds for Puerto Rico’s relief and rebuilding efforts by selling photographic prints that celebrate the island and Puerto Rican culture. 100% of the proceeds from all sales will be donated to the Hurricane Maria Community Recovery Fund. The website also has a Feet on the Ground section, where photojournalists are sharing images of the situation across the island. Read more and donate here.

United for Puerto Rico

First lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, has launched this nonprofit fund-raising organization, which has backing from some big-name corporate brands (including Coca-Cola, Banco Popular, Burger King, and Bacardi). Read more and donate here.

Virgin Unite

Richard Branson spent the brunt of Hurricane Irma bunkered down in the wine cellar of his home on Necker Island. When he emerged, he started sharing reports and photos of the devastation with the outside world. He’s currently advocating for a Marshall Plan type of recovery effort by multiple countries and is doing his part by launching his Virgin Unite foundation into action. Virgin Unite plans to work with local communities and support efforts by on-the-ground organizations. If you’re wondering how your funds will be used, the website states: “Virgin Unite’s overheads are covered by Richard Branson and the Virgin Group, meaning that 100% of all donations received will go directly to helping support local BVI communities.” Read more and donate here.

Your Favorite Caribbean Hotel

You can also choose to donate to a very specific cause. For instance, to support his own staff, Bruce launched fund-raising campaigns on KindFund and GoFundMe (KindFund takes less of an administrative fee than GoFundMe) “Many of us who travel do have our favorite places,” he said. “At The Summit we have guests who have been coming back year after year for 30 or 40 years. Those guests have given to the fund we have created. So if you have a favorite place you’ve been visiting, or people you know here, chances are they have set up a fund for their employees. [Check their Facebook pages or websites.] If everyone just gave to the place they’ve been visiting for years, to the places they love, that would be the quickest way to bring relief, and you’ll know where your money is going and who you’re helping.”


Fondo Unido – United Way México

The Mexican arm of the United Way is accepting donations to an emergency fund for earthquake and hurricane victims. Follow their Facebook page for more information.

Journey Mexico Fund-Raising Travel Opportunity

Zachary Rabinor, Wendy’s Trusted Travel Expert for Mexico, lives in Puerto Vallarta with his family (and has for decades). In addition to personally raising money to aid the village of one of his staff members, his company has collected a list of organizations in need of donations:

Zach has also come up with a creative way to direct funds into the relief effort while simultaneously promoting Mexican tourism (which needs the help). He’s running a small group tour for the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca (one of the hardest hit areas by the first earthquake and recent aftershock), and has 2 (out of 14) spaces open. Journey Mexico will donate 50% of the trip fee ($4,377/person) to relief efforts. For more information, read about the tour here or contact Zach.

Los Topos

Los Topos (or “the moles) are an all-volunteer organization that has been rescuing victims from the rubble of Mexico’s most recent earthquakes. They’ve been around a lot longer than that, though—the group came together after a huge earthquake in 1985, and continues to draw volunteers from various professions who receive specialized training to help out during earthquake disasters. You can read more and donate from the Los Topos home page (via PayPal).  (Tip: The website is in Spanish, but some browsers, like Google Chrome, automatically translate pages in foreign languages).

Mexican Red Cross

The Cruz Roja Mexicana is accepting direct donations on its Spanish-language site, and has compiled an Amazon wishlist for the specific items they need.

A note on volunteering

If you are interested in volunteering, please don’t just get on a plane and show up somewhere. Often what’s needed in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster are specialized, trained professionals. You might be wonderfully eager and caring, but randomly arriving volunteers create more work for on-the-ground organizations. To find out how you can get trained to be a disaster-relief volunteer, read more at the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (an association of volunteer groups) and the Red Cross.

If you have any other relief organizations or individual campaigns to recommend to your fellow travelers, let us know in the comments.

The Red Cross offers aid to victims of the Central Italy Earthquake of August 24, 2016. Photo: Croce Rossa Italiana

The Italy Earthquake and What You Can Do to Help

Update 10/30/16: Yet another earthquake has hit Italy today—the strongest in 36 years. The epicenter is near the town of Norcia, where the medieval basilica of St Benedict is among the historic buildings demolished by the disaster. Norcia is close the epicenter of the August 24 quake near Amatrice, which killed nearly 300 people. Thankfully, this one has only caused injuries, about 20, and no deaths.

Updated 10/27/16: A 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit central Italy on August 24, centered about 65 miles northeast of Rome, in the town of Amatrice. Sadly, nearly 300 people were killed, according to officials, and the mayor of Amatrice told CNN,“The town is no more.”

The Italian Red Cross has set up an information page for those who want to donate funds to the rescue effort. The organization is also asking those who are in the area to donate blood (if they’re eligible) and to unlock their personal Wi-Fi systems (ie., make it so that passwords are not required to log on) so that rescue workers and victims can freely use their Internet access to stay connected to each other and other emergency service workers.

For the longer relief effort, one of our own Trusted Travel Experts, Andrea Grisdale, has a few plans in action. In addition to promoting a donation appeal on her IC Bellagio website and raising funds through her nonprofit association Prolezzeno, she says: “We are working with the Lake Como town of Menaggio to organize fund-raising event on September 9.  We are also working with towns in central lake area of lake Como to get all our restaurants and trattorias to put Spaghetti Alla Amatriciana on their menus and for every plate sold they donate two euro to earthquake appeal.” She adds that all funds collected will be managed by Associazione Italiano Alpini (Gruppo Di Menaggio), “as they have earthquake support experience and they are local and this gives folks confidence that monies will reach the right destination.”

During the immediate aftermath of the quake, Facebook activated its Safety Check feature so that those in the area could alert friends and family that they were okay, and so that those at home could search for travelers and confirm their status. Google also has a Public Alerts page, where you can see a map of affected areas and track information on earthquakes, floods, and other emergency situations, sometimes with forecasts before they happen.

Sadly, the disaster in Italy was not the only one that day: Myanmar also suffered a 6.8 magnitude earthquake, which damaged at least 66 stupas in the ancient city of Bagan. The shake was felt as far away as Bangkok, Thailand; Calcutta, India, and Dhaka, Bangladesh. Only three people have been reported killed so far, including two children.

A smaller quake hit Indonesia on August 24 too, off the coast in the Flores sea. Luckily no one has been injured and a tsunami warning was not issued. That’s a relief for the country, which sustained a 6.5 magnitude quake in June that damaged buildings in western Sumatra.

Japan suffered a double quake this past spring: a 6.2 on April 14, followed by a 7.0 two days later. And in the western hemisphere that same week, Ecuador was rocked by a huge 7.8 earthquake on April 16 and then hit again in May; more than 1,300 people were killed in both, and tens of thousands were injured.

We’re not ticking off all these tragedies to scare anyone, nor are we suggesting that you stop traveling, or attempting to capitalize on such devastation. Rather, our goal (as always at WendyPerrin.com) is to keep you informed and to help you be as prepared for your travels as possible—and that includes being prepared for the unlikely event that you’ll be caught in an earthquake. To that end, we’re putting together a guide on how to be prepared for an emergency when you’re traveling overseas. Stay tuned.

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.