Yesterday the U.S. Department of State issued a worldwide Travel Alert for Americans in the wake of the hostage situation in Sydney, Australia earlier this week that left two hostages, and the gunman, dead. According to the travel alert it, “is a reminder that U.S. citizens should be extra cautious, maintain a very high level of vigilance, and take appropriate steps to enhance their personal security. This Travel Alert expires on March 19, 2015.”
The travel alert goes on to say, “An analysis of past attacks and threat reporting strongly suggests a focus by terrorists not only on the targeting of U.S. government facilities but also on hotels, shopping areas, places of worship, and schools, among other targets, during or coinciding with this holiday period. U.S. citizens abroad should be mindful that terrorist groups and those inspired by them can pose unpredictable threats in public venues. U.S. citizens should remain alert to local conditions and for signs of danger.”
The U.S. Department of State has two levels of heightened awareness – Alerts and Warnings.
- Alerts: “We issue a Travel Alert for short-term events we think you should know about when planning travel to a country. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Alert might include an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations, or disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of H1N1; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks.”
- Warnings: “We issue a Travel Warning when we want you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. We want you to know the risks of traveling to these places and to strongly consider not going to them at all. Travel Warnings remain in place until the situation changes; some have been in effect for years.”
While I’m not ready to change any of my own personal travel patterns just yet, it’s always a good to remember to stay vigilant while traveling – especially in crowded public places. The full list of Alerts and Warnings from the U.S. Department of State can be found here.