Safety abroad

While you may lose your luggage, your plane ticket, or even your passport, these are problems, not emergencies.  Emergencies are situations where there is an immediate threat to your health and/or safety.

If you suffer an Emergency situation, first contact your local emergency services. For further assistance you can contact iSOS TravelTracker.

Problems and emergency procedures will be different depending on your study abroad activity. If you are travelling with a field school you can seek help and assistance for your problems from the faculty accompanying the field school.   In the event of an emergency, follow the directions given by faculty or if you are studying abroad alone you will need to take responsibility for addressing problems that arise, as well as following emergency procedures outlined below and in our Individual Travel Abroad and Group Travel Abroad sections.  

Problems abroad

Students are more likely to be victims of petty crime shortly after they arrive in the foreign country because they may be disoriented and uncertain of themselves and their surroundings.

You may forget to lock your room, your purse or backpack may be snatched or, in the confusion and newness, you may simply become careless, so be especially protective of your personal possessions the first week or two after your arrival.

Learn more about Common Problems you may encounter while Abroad.

Emergencies Abroad

Emergencies are catastrophic personal or situational events, including:

Personal Situational
Death of a student Natural disaster
Serious illness, accident, or physical assault requiring hospitalization Terrorism
Missing person Political/civil unrest
Rape Hazardous conditions
If you are an inbound student studying at Douglas College you can report emergency incidents to New Westminster Campus Security

Tips for Avoiding problems

  • Ensure someone locally knows where you are going and when you are expected to return so they can notify the authorities if you are missing. It is also a good idea to contact your family/emergency contact regularly (establish a pattern), and to give them the phone number of someone you know locally in case they need to follow up. 
  • Whether you are on foot or in a car, be aware of your environment and those around you so you can anticipate potential problems.
  • If you detect that an approaching person or situation could be problematic, get out of harm’s way by making a radical or abrupt change in your speed or direction.
  • There is safety in large groups, so try to walk with others, especially at night.
  • Avoid enclosed places where someone could be hidden or where there are limited escape routes. 
  • Don’t make yourself a target. Avoid wearing conspicuous clothing, expensive jewelry or using high-priced electronics.
  • When you go out, make sure you know how to get home, and have the means to get home safely.
  • Always use a regulation taxi and insist on using the meter or negotiating the price up front. If you are in a place for a longer period of time make arrangements with a local taxi company or driver you trust.
  • Do not leave your bags or belongings unattended at any time and do not agree to carry or look after packages or suitcases for anyone. If you must transport an item, unwrap it, open it up and examine it thoroughly before packing it.
  • Don’t put all of your important documents and money together in one place. Never put money, important documents or prescription medications in checked luggage
  • Have sufficient funds or a credit card on hand to purchase emergency items but also don’t carry excessive amounts of cash or any unnecessary credit cards.
  • Keep informed of current political situations, and listen for advisories.
  • Learn to do what the locals do, including areas to avoid, places that are safe, where to walk, shop, and any other important information.
  • Don’t take valuables when you go out and try to carry as little cash as possible.
  • Make sure you know how to use the telephone and have a calling card or other means of using the telephone in the country(s) that you visit.