Please note – the views in the following feature are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Safe Travels Magazine. Before travel, we recommend that you always do your own research, read travel advisories and buy appropriate travel insurance.

Jonathan Bancroft is the Head of Security for Traveller Assist

Twitter: @TravellerSOS


Jonathan Bancroft is the Head of Security for Traveller Assist, a medical and security assistance company with offices in the U.K., Australia and Peru.

Jonathan is the former Special Counsel for a major law firm in Panama where he was responsible for kidnap, ransom, extortion, hijacking and piracy cases. He has also held roles on high risk security teams with the BBC and CNN in the Middle East and Africa, and worked for the United Nations at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Jonathan started his career as an officer in the British Army where he served for 10-years on counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics operations around the world.

Hurricane Irma Safety Considerations for Travellers

As Hurricane Irma approaches the Caribbean and Bahamas, with wind speeds exceeding 180mph, it is already the most powerful storm the Atlantic has seen in over a decade.

It is forecast to bring storm surges up to 10-feet, life-threatening winds and torrential rainfall to Anguilla, Antigua, St Kitts and the Virgin Islands.

Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas could also sustain damage as warm waters in the region fuel the storm.

Travellers in areas where Hurricane Warnings have been issued are reminded to call their travel insurance companies to find out if they are covered.

Traveller Assist Case Manager Sarah Jansen explains, “As a medical assistance and security evacuation company, we are aware of several travel insurance policies that were declined by underwriters after Hurricane Harvey due to government warnings being issued that provided adequate time to leave the region.”

A medical repatriation can cost up to $50,000, with total medical bills in some cases exceeding $1million. Without a travel insurance policy, the traveller is expected to pay this from their own pocket.

When you consider that the cost of most travel insurance policies cost less than the equivalent of a cup of coffee per day, it is a worthwhile investment.

Traveller Assist, Head of Security, Jonathan Bancroft advises, “If possible, travellers are advised to evacuate the areas forecast to be affected immediately. If it is not possible, follow these hurricane safety tips.”

  • Keep your mobile phones charged. This will allow you to call for help if needed, and help family/friends to call you and check on your welfare.
  • Keep flashlights and spare batteries handy. During a hurricane, the power will most likely go off. Having flashlights will help you to find safety, signal for help, and provide light for everyday tasks.
  • Monitor local news and weather. If possible, carry a battery powered or dynamo radio. Listen for evacuation notices and local safety information.
  • Know your evacuation routes, and don’t leave it too late to evacuate. If you are staying in a coastal area, go to high-ground.
  • Pack a ‘Go Bag’ with food, water, medications, first-aid kit, cash, clothes, blankets and important travel/medical/insurance documents.
  • Contact your countries embassy or consulate to inform them that you are in the area. Follow their safety advice.
  • If you have been advised to shelter in place, keep away from windows and glass doors, and stay in an internal room of the building, ideally not on the ground-floor and a room with more than one exit-door.
  • Don’t forget your pets. They are family too and need consideration for either sheltering in place, or following the evacuation plan.

Remember, a lull in a storm does not mean it is over. It often signifies the eye of the storm, meaning more wind and rain will follow. Anyone caught in a hurricane should wait for the authorities to announce that the danger has passed.

Stay safe.

You might also be interested in ‘Caribbean and USA: Hurricane Irma to bring ‘hazardous sea and weather conditions’ from Tuesday, be prepared‘, which features links to advice from embassies and some prep advice tweets.

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