Stay Safe in Nepal, Re-Introducing the Warden Program (March 27, 2018)

Thank you for enrolling in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). We encourage every U.S. citizen visiting or living in Nepal to enroll online – it’s the best way to help us help you!

This message provides core information to help you stay safe in Nepal and introduces a new design to the Embassy’s warden program. The information and contact details that follow offer an additional way to connect with our excellent volunteers and the emergency radio network in case you are unable to contact the Embassy directly. Whether you are in Nepal for just a few days or for many years to come, we recommend that you save a copy of this email on your portable electronic devices. Make a point to print out copies, as well, and keep them alongside the emergency preparedness supplies in your home, office, and car.

Know Before You Go

We believe that a well-informed traveler is a safer traveler. Consular officers around the world compile country details, travel advisories, fact sheets, and emergency alerts to provide you with timely and accurate information about every country in the world. This information is always available at travel.state.gov.

The Nepal page is updated regularly and includes the most important information about traveling here and our general advice on staying safe in Nepal. Do not trek alone. Follow all local laws. Maintain appropriate visa status. Avoid demonstrations and large crowds. Purchase travel and medical evacuation insurance. Be aware that infrastructure, government services, and medical assistance may not be up to U.S. standards. Visit the Nepal information page at travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Nepal.html for additional advice and guidance on:

* Entry, exit and visa requirements

* Customs regulations and currency restrictions

* Personal safety and general security information

* Suggestions for staying safe while trekking

* Best practices to consider before volunteering

* Local health and medical care concerns

* Travel and transportation risks

Planning for Earthquakes and Crisis Situations

Nepal is vulnerable to a variety of natural disasters and other crises. In the event of a major earthquake or other widespread disaster, roads may be impassable, civil infrastructure damaged, telecommunications services limited, and emergency services unavailable. This reality places an increased responsibility on visitors and residents alike to plan ahead for emergency situations and prepare to provide for their own needs for an extended period of time, whether at home, work, or on the road.

Earthquakes are a serious risk in Nepal and should be one of the central components of your crisis preparedness efforts. A variety of official U.S. government sources make excellent resources available as you consider the things that you should do before, during, and after a major earthquake. Learn about best practices, including personal “go-bags” and loading maps with saved locations onto your phone for offline use in case the internet is unavailable. One excellent online resource is FEMA’s “Earthquake Safety Checklist,” which is available online as a PDF at fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/3234. Others resources include:

* Earthquake Country Alliance – earthquakecountry.org

* Earthquake Hazard Program – earthquake.usgs.gov

* Earthquake Safety at Home – fema.gov/earthquake-safety-home

* The Ready Campaign – ready.gov/earthquakes

The government of Nepal also makes helpful information about earthquakes available at a variety of websites, including:

* National Emergency Operation Center – neoc.gov.np

* National Seismological Centre – seismonepal.gov.np

* Nepal Disaster Risk Reduction Portal – drrportal.gov.np

Communication During a Crisis

In the event of a crisis, remember to update your social media status and let loved ones back home know your status as soon as possible. The Embassy will use all available means, including email, the Embassy website, our social media accounts (facebook.com/nepal.usembassy, twitter.com/usembassynepal), and mass media to make applicable information available to U.S. citizens. If you need emergency assistance, reach out to the Embassy by phone at (+977)(1)423-4000 or (+977)(1)400-7200), or by email at consktm@state.gov. If cellular reception is unavailable, try landlines. In remote areas, satellite phones may be the only option. Some citizens might choose to walk or travel to the Embassy compound in Maharajgunj or to the Phora Durbar American Club in Kantipath for information, but please know in advance that traveling to these facilities may not always be the safest option and that the Embassy may not always be able to provide immediate assistance or safe shelter.

The Warden Program

In the event that electronic communication is unavailable in Kathmandu valley, you can also contact the nearest warden. Scattered in and around Kathmandu, these long-term residents have volunteered to assist their fellow citizens as needed. Each warden is connected to the Embassy through a two-way hand-held radio. In the event of a wide-scale crisis, wardens will hang a laminated sign including a large American flag at a pre-designated landmark near their home. Wardens will write the latest messages from the Embassy onto the sign and also provide directions to their home in case you need to relay a message through the warden radio network. If the nearest warden is not available, try the next closest warden.

Make sure to enroll in STEP to receive the PDF attachment that will introduce you to our volunteer wardens, including their contact information and a map of the pre-designated landmarks where they will hang their laminated flag in the event of a crisis. You are also welcome to reach out to any of the wardens in advance of an emergency. Introduce yourself to the wardens closest to where you live, work, or play, and take advantage of their wealth of experience in Nepal.

Stay safe and enjoy your time in Nepal!