Traveling abroad offers American citizens so many wonderful experiences: diverse cultures and languages, beautiful and unique ecosystems, architectural and geographic wonders, and so much more. Prior to COVID-19 hitting the U.S., 99.74 million tourists traveled abroad in 2019, with 39.9 million specifically traveling to Mexico and almost 15 million traveling to Canada.
Unfortunately, overseas travel is not without its risks. In a recent two-year span, more than 1,700 U.S. citizens died from severe injuries they suffered while visiting foreign countries. The top causes of death were vehicle crashes (28%), homicide (18%), and drowning/boating incidents (17%). In some countries, it is the remote locations or lack of emergency care that decreases survival odds.
If you plan to travel abroad for school or pleasure, it is important to think through and have an emergency plan in-place in the event you suffer a severe injury. And for corporations who are sending their employees abroad for work purposes, you are legally obligated to exercise duty of care to ensure the safety of your employees.
- Potential for Serious Injuries While Abroad
- Have an Emergency Plan Before Traveling
- Take Reasonable Care to Protect Employees
Potential for Serious Injuries While Abroad
Skeptical that you or your employee(s) could be at-risk of a life-threatening injury simply by traveling out of the U.S.? Think again. Here are some potential reasons and situations that can lead to serious injuries.
Remote and tropical corners of the world offer adventure travel experiences (mountain biking, bungee jumping, safaris, surfing, etc.) that, while exciting, are dangerous by nature.
American tourists are often targets of theft and crime – even in world-renowned tourist destinations like Barcelona, London, and Paris – usually due to travel stress, language barriers, and culture shock.
Work & Study Abroad
Americans travel abroad for work for any number of reasons. In a recent and shocking investigation, a pattern of attacks on U.S. citizens working overseas who returned home with traumatic brain injuries has been uncovered.
The United States, of course, experiences natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes. But Japan experiences significantly more earthquakes because of its dense seismic activity, and the often quiet beach fronts of Greece and Italy are actually prone to tsunamis.
Political Unrest, Terrorism
It is not uncommon to come across protests and political unrest in many developing countries, and especially in large cities. But high-risk countries are particularly dangerous for American travelers. The Department of State provides information about such countries that may not only be hostile to U.S. citizens, but also that could prove difficult for the U.S. government to provide consular services if an incident were to occur.
Have an Emergency Plan Before Traveling
Clearly, foreign travel’s potential for risk and injury is a reality. At the same time, there are a number of safety measures and steps you can take to keep yourself aware, safe, and prepared!
One of the most proactive things you can do before traveling abroad? Identify key contacts and sources of possible assistance for you and your family in case of an emergency. This includes, but is not limited to, the local U.S. embassy, the Department of State, and Atlas Aegis. You can also enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates, and so the government can locate you in an emergency.
You can also request a medical evacuation from Atlas Aegis. Atlas Aegis agents and medics draw from decades of experience in Delta Force, U.S. Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs, and Rangers to deliver the most advanced security, intelligence, and medical services – even to remote corners of the world. Our Special Forces medics can deliver the most advanced care where and when you need it most.
Take Reasonable Care to Protect Employees
Even though exercising duty of care is a legal necessity for corporations whose employees are traveling for the job, there is ambiguity as to how you do so. However, to avoid legal liability and protect your people, your safety measures must be proactive and multi-faceted.
For starters, consulting with a subject matter expert (SME) and open source intelligence (OSINT) is the first step to uncover potential risks specific to the destination as well as the employee. In order to prevent and mitigate those risks, preparation training and/or establishing a close protection team (CPT) or digital overwatch team (DOWT) may be necessary; monitoring not only provides surveillance of the known risks but also looks for new risks that might become apparent.
Finally, if the worst happens, a crisis response team (CRT) is ready to assist throughout the emergency by connecting the injured party with the medical care they need, as well as alerting both local and U.S. authorities.
Contact the Atlas Aegis team today for more information regarding foreign risks and the services we provide for your/your employees’ safety.