Natural Disasters: Health and Safety

It is important to be prepared for natural disasters. In the past the Galapagos Islands have been subjected to volcanic eruptions, floods and tsunami’s. As part of the GALAPAGOS ICE mandate we commit to the safety, security and well-being of the volunteers and staff. Good planning is essential to provide as safe an environment as possible to those who are in our trust, be they volunteers, the community or staff.

There are not always guidelines available to meet every situation and panic can set in during an emergency; therefore, we have created an evacuation plan to ensure all staff and volunteers have a central safe location to get to. Volunteers are given an evacuation plan with a map and a place to meet during orientation.

What you can do as a volunteer….

  • Make sure you have extra water in your home, crackers and a flashlight in case of an evacuation.
  • You may have a short amount of time to pack. It is always good to have an emergency bag packed and ready to go.
  • If possible it is advisable to wear your GICE shirts to make you visible to other volunteers.
  • Equip yourself with a cell phone that has adequate minutes at all times. Have all emergency numbers saved in your contacts list.
  • Your safety and security comes first. If you hear about a warning, if at all possible please contact one of the people on the Galapagos ICE emergency card (given to you during orientation) so we know where you are located.
  • If there is a need to evacuate quickly it is important that you stay calm. Please return to your host family to evacuate to the meeting point in Bellavista.
  • Be aware that there is speculative communication, please confirm any information with Galapagos ICE staff prior to going anywhere or doing anything.
  • After warnings have expired please return to your homes. DO NOT go near the water after a tsunami. It is prohibited at least for 24 hours or until otherwise advised.

What Galapagos ICE will do….

  • When a Galapagos ICE representative is told about a tsunami warning or other natural disasters, the Board of Directors Vice-Chair, Jane Caldwell, will be informed who will have a list of all current volunteers, their host family numbers and emergency contact numbers. They will contact family members to update them on the situation when necessary.
  • If there is time to evacuate as a group, you will be informed to meet at the Galapagos ICE office.
  • If there is no time to evacuate as a group, please return to your host family and evacuate with your host family.
  • If there is no time to evacuate as a group or with your host family, an individual should go straight towards Bellavista in any car available and meet at the meeting spot.
  • When we arrive at our meeting point please listen to your Director who will be in contact with local authorities to receive updated information on the situation. Volunteers will be on ‘lock-down’ meaning you should not leave your Director’s presence unless you have permission. Listen to your further instructions.
  • Galapagos ICE staff has walkie-talkie’s in order to communicate with volunteers. Some volunteers, if they are willing, may be asked to help serve water, tea and help locals during a natural disaster.
  • When there are large groups of volunteers Galapagos ICE may create a natural disaster drill to ensure volunteers are prepared at all times. I would do this no matter how large or small the group to avoid chaos.

NOTE: Volunteers are liable for all expenses incurred by the GALAPAGOS ICE staff should a volunteer need to be located who left no prior word of his or her whereabouts, or cannot be found at the location indicated.

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