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Natural disasters

No matter where you’re going, you should be prepared for the local climate and for any natural disasters which may affect your destination.

Practical advice

  • Get comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Register your details with us before you travel so we can contact you in an emergency.
  • Read our travel advice on your destination.
  • Get local advice on how to manage in the case of a serious incident or dangerous conditions.
  • Co-operate with local authorities and emergency services in the case of serious incidents.
  • If you are caught up in a serious incident, let us, your family and friends know that you are safe. You can contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at +353 1 408 2000

Hurricanes

Hurricanes are severe tropical storms that can lead to high winds, heavy rain, flooding, mudslides, and tornadoes. They are also known as cyclones and typhoons (depending on the region they take place).

Hurricane season runs from the beginning of June to the end of November and can affect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.

If you’re considering travelling to a storm-prone country, you should monitor local and international weather updates during your stay. You can get detailed weather information and storm tracking from the US National Hurricane Centre and the World Meteorological Organisation. Always follow local authorities’ instructions about security and evacuation.

Earthquakes

Earthquakes regularly take place all over the world but because they’re small, they hardly register. However, if an earthquake with a magnitude of around six or more on the Richter scale occurs it can cause a significant amount of damage and loss of life.

Find out if you’re travelling to an active earthquake zone by checking the map of earthquake-prone areas on the Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program website. You should also find out from local contacts or your hotel what you should do in the event of an earthquake.

Tsunami

Tsunamis are ocean waves, often caused by volcanic eruptions or earthquakes. They can be extremely dangerous and can cause devastation and severe loss of life. If you’re travelling to a coastal area in a tsunami risk zone, be alert for tsunami warnings that may be issued by the authorities. You can also learn more about what to do in the event of a tsunami by checking out the International Tsunami Information Centre website.

Volcanoes

There are lots of different forms of volcanic activity, from trickles of lava to violent explosions that can cause widespread damage. Most volcanoes are carefully monitored, and scientists can usually give some advance warning before any serious event.

If you’re travelling to an active volcanic area, monitor local reports carefully. When visiting a volcano, avoid getting too close as sudden steam and ash explosions can occur at any time. You should also remember that volcanic ash can cause serious disruption to travel services.

Flooding

Heavy monsoon rains and storms can often lead to dangerous flooding, mudslides and landslides. This can have devastating effects, including loss of life, destruction of whole towns and villages and disruption of transport.

If you’re visiting a flood-affected area, stay informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly. Make sure you have enough drinking water in reserve and check that routes are passable before setting out on long journeys. Water-borne disease tends to pose a greater risk during heavy flooding so take extra care to avoid drinking contaminated water.              

Avalanches

Avalanches and snow drifts are a danger in mountainous regions, where weather can be unpredictable and can change suddenly. If you’re planning to ski, climb or hike, monitor local weather and safety conditions carefully. You can visit the European Avalanche Warning Services website for more details. Make sure you have appropriate equipment and always tell someone of your plans. Follow advice from local authorities and observe all written warnings and notices. You should also check that your travel insurance covers you for all activities you’ve planned.

Forest fires

Forest fires can be a significant problem in some countries that experience very dry conditions. These fires have devastating effects and there are usually heavy penalties applied for breach of the rules, such as ignoring a total fire ban warning. Always be responsible when visiting wooded areas and under no circumstances light barbecues or leave any litter behind if the area is prone to outbreaks of fire. Follow local reports closely for warnings of forest fires and avoid any areas that may have fire warnings in place.