5 Quick things you can do NOW to stay safe on your mission trip
Being proactive is the best way to stay safe during your international mission trip. Don't wait until a dangerous situation comes up. Do these 5 things now and you'll be better positioned to have a safe mission trip abroad.
1) Write down important phone numbers
If you're in a pinch, dialing 911 probably won't work (911 is a North American emergency number). It's important to have local emergency numbers handy in case anything ever happens. Check out this chart of emergency numbers from around the world on Wikipedia.
In addition to local emergency numbers, you should also have these numbers handy throughout your mission trip:
- Your trip leader's international cell number
- US Embassy's phone number
- Hotel/hostel phone number where you're staying
Even if you're not planning on bringing a cell phone with you during your trip, keep these numbers with you at all times. If something happens, you can always borrow a phone to make a call.
2) Set up a Google Alert to stay informed on local news
Do you know if there's been any local unrest in the region you're visiting? Do you know of any political issues that are impacting the country? This type of information is helpful because it will keep you aware and alert to what's happening around you.
By staying on top of local news, you'll also know which issues to talk about and which ones to avoid while interacting with locals.
You can easily stay informed by setting up a Google Alert. Type in the country, region, or city that you're visiting, and then select how often you want to receive an alert. Setting up an alert a couple of weeks or months before your trip means that you'll be up-to-date on the country you're visiting by the time you step off the plane.
3) Sign up for STEP
STEP stands for Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. STEP is an alert system provided by the U.S. Department of State designed to keep international travelers informed and protected in case there's ever an emergency or safety issue.
In addition to keeping you informed with email or text alerts, the local U.S. Embassy will be prepared to contact you if there's ever an issue, from civil unrest to family emergencies.
You can sign up for STEP right here.
4) Download the "First Aid by American Red Cross" App
Being safe means being ready for a lot more than just a huge emergency. It's important to be ready for some of the smaller issues too, like if you hit your hand with a hammer or trip over a two-by-four.
This first aid app opens up to a great list of common first aid situations (bleeding, burns, ankle sprains, etc.). Clicking on a situation brings up step by step instructions and a video on how to address the problem. All of the instructions and videos work offline and are simple to follow! (Pro Tip: Carry a first aid kit in your backpack so that you can quickly treat any injury.)
5) Give a copy of your itinerary to your family
Your itinerary should include information like what flights you're taking, hotel/hostel information, and a brief description of where you'll be each day during your trip (for example, "serving in the Carbinlina village" or "souvenir shopping in downtown Rio de Janeiro"). Include important phone numbers and contact information in your itinerary, too.
Your itinerary will give family an idea of where you'll be throughout your trip. If there's an emergency at home or if you have any problems while you're abroad, an itinerary will give family a jumpstart in contacting or locating you.
Staying safe on your mission trip is important, but it's nothing that you need to spend time worrying about. Chances are, your mission trip will happen without any issues at all. However, doing these 5 quick things will help ensure that in the rare instance that something does happen, you'll be prepared.
Written by CJ