It is a good idea to be aware of the different kinds of emergency situations that could occur while you are abroad. These could include environmental (e.g., earthquakes), personal (petty theft), or health (illness) safety issues. Understanding the different situations will help you properly prepare an emergency plan.

Some things to remember:

  • Think about possible emergency situations that could occur in your host country and plan accordingly
  • Download the International SOS app and login with your UBC membership ID (contact the Student Safety Abroad Advisor for your membership ID)
  • Find out and make note of the emergency phone number to call in your host country (It may not be 9-1-1)

Emergency Contingency Plan

Emergency Consular Assistance

There are a few ways to access emergency consular assistance while you are abroad:

For emergency help during business hours, call your nearest embassy or consulate directly.

If you call outside of office hours, your telephone call will automatically be transferred to a consular officer in Ottawa, or you will be asked to leave a message for a return call. Under normal circumstances, an operations officer will get back to you within 15 minutes. However, this delay may be longer during large-scale emergencies.

You can also:

  • Contact Global Affairs Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Send an email,sos@international.gc.ca or make a collect call 1.613.996.8885
  • From within Canada, call 1.800.267.6788, or 613.944.6788

Again, you may be asked to leave a message. Please follow the instructions carefully and, under normal circumstances, an operations officer will get back to you within 15 minutes.

Emergency Preparation

Some tips on how to prepare yourself in case of emergency situations:

Register online with the Student Safety Abroad Registry
Download the International SOS app and create an account (contact the Student Safety Abroad Advisor for the membership number)
Consult the Government of Canada travel advisories to learn about updated events in your destination country
Familiarize yourself with the numbers for the local police, embassies, and host organization contact (if applicable)
Register your travel with the government to receive timely advice during an emergency. (For Canadians, register with the Registration for Canadians Abroad (ROCA).)

Sexual Violence

There are many myths within society that sexual assaults are perpetrated by a stranger, when actually 84% of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone that the victim knows. Sexual assault is about power and often those perpetrating sexual assault or abuse are those in positions of authority. Sexual assault most often occurs in a private setting such as at home, work or in an educational setting.

When you are away from home or on international university activity, it can be disorientating and difficult adapting to your new environment. It is important to consider your surroundings and to create safe spaces for yourself and be aware of the resources available to you. Different countries have different community resources available when it comes to sexualized violence, but it’s important to know what is available to you, and to know that it’s ok to access support. If you aren’t sure where to find those resources you can connect with the institution that you are visiting, UBC or The SASC (Sexual Assault Support Centre).

If you are supporting a survivor of sexual assault it is important to listen to their needs, not make assumptions or judgments, don’t ask too many questions and help them find resources. It is also important to set your own boundaries and to take care of yourself.

Sexual assaults are not isolated, preventable incidents they are a product of reinforced lifelong privilege and safety is different for everyone. Having an awareness of your surroundings, resources, and a safety plan can be helpful. For more information on sexual assault prevention and safety contact The SASC.