The different types of natural disaster you could encounter abroad

Last month while I was travelling in Japan I came face to face with my worst nightmare, I felt three earthquakes within two days in Tokyo. Thankfully the origin was on the coast so the effect was not very strong in the capital but the incident shook me and I decided to do a detail post on how we could encounter different type of natural disaster while travelling and what to do if it happens. Natural disasters can, and do, happen. When you’re travelling abroad, you should be aware of the risks and know what to do should the worst happen. Whilst we’re typically vigilant when it comes to common risks at home, travelling can cause our mentality to shift. To ensure you stay safe, here’s some guidance on the different types of natural disaster you could encounter:

  • Hurricanes

When strong winds reach 120 kmph, they become classified as a hurricane. Although rare, they are lethal and devastating. Hurricane Katrina in 2005, for example, ranks as the most costly natural disaster in the history of the US.

To avoid travelling to places where a hurricane is likely to hit, look up the risks associated with your ideal location and the time of year you want to travel. The Atlantic hurricane season typically lasts from May to September, but some places are riskier than others. For example, places such as the coast of North Carolina, the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands have hurricanes on average once every one and a half years.

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  • Bushfires

Bushfires tend to be triggered by dry conditions and a lightning strike, a spark from a dropped match, or another seemingly innocuous event. They normally occur in hot, dry destinations. They’re common in California, for instance, where a total of 7,865 bushfires were recorded throughout the summer of 2014, causing US$184.02 worth of damage.

If you’re camping in such places, take particular care and never abandon your campfire. The 2011 Wallow Fire in Arizona and Mexico’s Bear Wallow Wilderness caused destruction of 2,180 square kilo meters and was caused by two careless campers.


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  • Earthquakes

Major earthquakes occur a few times a year and are more likely to happen near a place where two of the earth’s tectonic plates meet. This makes regions such as New Zealand, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Japan, the Americas and Indonesia the most highly prone to earthquakes.

However, modern technology continues to make it easier to predict when and where an earthquake is likely to happen, improving safety worldwide.


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  • Avalanches

If you’re travelling to go skiing or snowboarding, you would have heard about avalanches. These dangerous natural disasters occur when something triggers a weak layer of snow to collapse. This then sets off a chain reaction, forcing vast amounts of snow, ice and other debris down the mountainside at great speed.

If you’re caught in an avalanche, you’ll be lucky to get away with just broken bones and belongings. So make sure you pay close attention to weather warnings and the advice of local experts.


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Share your experiences of natural disasters with us in the comments below.


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The Complete Guide to What To Do Before, During and After A Disaster

Know and Understand Natural Disasters

BBC Earth: Natural Disasters

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