How to Survive a Terror Attack: Tips for Travelers

Terrorism and the traveler. Check out this important information to help you cope with any situation and stay as safe as possible post-event.

A pile of concrete rubble with protruding rebar on the background of thick black smoke in the blue sky Photo © Getty Images/Roman Novitskii

Be prepared but don’t be paranoid. Sadly, these are skills we will have to incorporate into our daily lives, but they don’t have to be a burden. Make yourself aware of a few tips on what to do if you're unfortunate enough to be caught up in a terror attack.

Surviving a terror attack

Travelers involved or close to a terror incident are advised to exercise heightened security awareness and to follow the directives of local authorities. Here are a few safety first tips:

  • Stay within the confines of your residence or accommodation
  • Do not go out into the public streets
  • Be alert to local news developments
  • Adhere to any imposed curfews or security restrictions
  • Be aware of conspicuous or unusual behaviour. Unusual behaviour and strange devices should be reported to the police or security personnel promptly
  • Gunfire doesn’t sound like it does in the movies, it’s more like a popping sound, which is why so many people say they thought the gunfire was a car backfire or fireworks. Don’t ignore that sound. Establish as quickly as possible where the sound is coming from, and make a decision on whether you need to act (run, hide)
  • If you are in a building located close to the site of a terrorist attack, stay away from the windows
  • If in the vicinity of an attack, do not stay to watch what is happening, as you will only get in the way of the emergency services. There is also a risk that additional attacks may occur
  • Make a mental note of safe havens, such as police stations and hospitals.

If there's a bomb blast

  • Leave the area as soon as possible
  • Do not run you may be suspected as the bomber. If you are in a crowd stay at the fringes.
  • Stay clear of glass shop fronts.
  • If you are injured attend to yourself before others.
  • Obey all instructions and orders that are given by local police.
  • Make your way to a pre planned secure area.
  • If you return to your hotel stay away from the windows.
  • Listen to television and radio reports.
  • Contact family or friends and let them know your situation.
  • Write down what you saw before and after the blast it may help the authorities in their investigation.

If you're injured in a terror attack

If you are injured or become ill please seek medical aid and contact your 24-hour Medical Assistance Service (numbers below).

Be aware that any functioning hospitals and clinics will be busy caring for large numbers of people who have been injured in the incident.

Preparing for potential terrorism

Before visiting a country where there is a risk of terrorism you should first obtain as much information on that country as possible.

  • When you arrive, stay away from those areas that may have been the target of terrorism in the past
  • Identify the main tourist areas and stay away from those which appear less secure
  • Make yourself aware of your surroundings. Be aware of the conduct of people near to you. If they are acting suspicious, alert the local authorities
  • Check out all the exits from your location. Walking through a shopping mall, look for the green exit signs. Restaurants always have an exit out the back in the kitchen area, it may be closer and safer than the front door.
  • Stay away from large gatherings or demonstrations
  • Know the emergency numbers of the country you are in and your Embassy
  • If you are with friends identify a rendezvous point to meet should there be an incident
  • Prepare a plan to evacuate should there be an incident
  • Know the telephone numbers of local transport and hire car companies.

What do I do after the terror attack?

It's important to remember that the situation you are in can be extremely stressful. Call home and your country's Consulate or Embassy to let them know where you are, if you are alright and if you need any assistance. If you have data access, check in online as well.

Keeping an item of comfort nearby such as a family photo, favorite music, or religious item can often offer comfort in such situations.

Call your travel insurance emergency assistance hotline should you need immediate attention.

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