Personal Security and Emergency Preparedness

In light of the on-going terrorist attacks in Paris, the U.S. Embassy Bogota would like all U.S. citizens in Colombia to review their personal security and emergency preparedness.

We remind all U.S. citizens and family members to practice good situational awareness and keep track of what is happening around you.   Monitor local media.  If you encounter something or someone suspicious, do not attempt to investigate or interfere.  Leave the area immediately and inform the police as soon as possible.

Personal security and emergency preparedness is a continuous process and U.S. citizens and family members must take an active role.

General Personal Security Precautions:

  • Vary your times and routes to and from work.  Ensure that your daily activity remains unpredictable.
  • Be alert in locations and at events frequented by Americans and other expatriates.
  • Ensure that your colleagues and family are aware of your daily plans and know how to reach you.
  • Maintain a low personal profile. Do not display signs of wealth or participate in activity that draws unnecessary attention to yourself.
  • When using ATMs, try to use one inside a bank and be aware if anyone is watching you!
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Always carry a means of communication and ensure that it is fully charged.
  • Check the interior and exterior of your vehicle. Look for irregularities such as signs of forced entry, broken lights or a flat tire.
  • Maintain no less than a half of a tank of gas.
  • Keep your doors locked and windows closed (residence and vehicle).
  • Leave space to maneuver your vehicle and/or take evasive action in traffic at any time.
  • Avoid choke points along your routes. Be wary of diversions such as detours or roadblocks.
  • If you are being followed or harassed, find the nearest safe location, such as a CAI police station, and call the Colombian police for assistance. Do not stop and confront the individual or lead them to your home.
  • Report all suspicious activity and/or security incidents to the police.

 

Emergency Preparedness:

  • Elect a safe haven in your home and ensure that it is supplied with emergency provisions such as a flash light, water, food, radio, extra prescription medication, etc.  Also prepare a “Go Bag” with similar supplies including additional provisions such as cash and identification in the event of evacuation.
  • Establish primary and secondary evacuation plans from your building in the event of a fire or structural damage caused by an earthquake.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Colombia enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Information For Colombia.  For additional information, refer to the Traveler’s Checklist on the State Department’s website.

Emergencies involving U.S. citizens can be reported to the U.S. Embassy by contacting the American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit, located at Calle 24 Bis No.48-50, Bogota, D.C., Colombia or via email through ACSBogota@state.gov.