The Philippines is one of the most high-risk countries in the world for experiencing natural disasters. The list of possible natural disasters includes earthquakes, floods, mudslides, typhoons, and volcanic eruptions. The Philippines is considered to be one of the most storm-exposed countries on Earth. On average, 18 to 20 tropical storms enter Philippine waters each year, with 8 or 9 of those storms making landfall.
Situated on the Ring of Fire, the Philippines has a number of active volcanoes which periodically threaten their immediate vicinities. The Mayon, Taal and Bulusan volcanoes have a permanent danger zone (PDZ) established around their summits by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). Mayon volcano in Albay Province has a PDZ of six kilometres, Bulusan volcano in Sorsogon has a four kilometre PDZ and the entire volcanic island of Taal is a PDZ. You should take this information into account when traveling to these areas. In the event of major volcanic activity, you should follow the advice of local authorities and monitor warnings issued by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).
The information below is provided to assist U.S. citizens and their families prepare for any disaster that may occur. In the event of an actual emergency, the Embassy will place up-to-date information and instructions on the Embassy website.
Before an emergency occurs there are a number of things that you can do to prepare:
- Read “Emergencies and Crisis – What the Department of State can and can’t do in a crisis”.
- Read the Embassy’s “Disaster Preparedness Pamphlet” (PDF 1.9 MB). This is an excellent resource developed by American Citizen Services specific to emergencies common to the Philippines.
- Read the “Overseas Preparedness Checklist”. This website contains many useful suggestions on how to prepare for emergencies while living abroad.
- Sign up for the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) – U.S. citizens living or traveling in the Philippines are encouraged to register with the Embassy through the State Department’s travel enrollment website. In the event of an emergency, we use the enrollment information to communicate with you. By signing up for the STEP, you can also automatically receive our most up-to-date travel and security information, as well as our monthly newsletters, voting information, and other messages to U.S. citizens in the Philippines.
- Prepare your family and home for typhoons, flooding, and power outages. See list below for tips on preparing your family and home for periods of interruped power and restricted travel and mobility.
Preparing Your Family and Home for Natural Disasters
The following list contains general suggestions on how to best be prepared in the event that you and your family lose power for extended periods or experience restrictions in travel or mobility:
- fill vehicle and generator fuel tanks;
- secure loose outdoor items around your home;
- check and charge all mobile phones and emergency radios;
- check and assemble flashlights, first aid kids, and tools;
- procure batteries, candles, matches, potable water, canned or dry food, ped food, medication, and other supplies needed to support you and your household for extended periods.
For more information on building and maintaining a disaster/emergency supply kit, go the following Ready.gov website for useful suggestions and instructions.
Monitor Embassy Website
Monitor our website – we will issue updated messages for U.S. citizens and post appropriate information specific to the circumstances on our website.
Monitor local radio and television stations. Radio stations include ABS-CBN (630-khz) and GMA (594-khz). (Note: these are primarily Tagalog-language stations.)
During natural disasters such as typhoons or tropical storms, monitor weather and emergency-related websites. See list of websites below.
Read the latest security information worldwide. U.S. citizens should regularly monitor the State Department’s website where the current Worldwide Caution and Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling Overseas Citizen Services at 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers from outside the United States and Canada, at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
General Disaster Preparedness Websites
U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs Emergencies Abroad website – general information and resources for U.S. citizens experiencing an emergency outside of the United States.
U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs Natural Disasters website – general information and resources pertaining to natural disasters.
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Ready website – general information and resources for emergency preparedness
American Red Cross – Member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The following websites are excellent sources of information for disasters and emergencies in the Philippines.
Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) – for weather and flood forecasts, severe weather bulletins, and tropical cyclone warnings.
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology – for information related to volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunami.
Typhoon2000 – Philippine website devoted to tropical cyclones.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council – Philippine government website for all natural disasters.
Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) – U.S. Navy website based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for storms in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Philippine Red Cross – Member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
World Health Organization Philippines Representative Office – the World Health Organization, Western Pacific Region’s Philippines office.
The Embassy's Role During A Disaster
The Philippine Government has primary responsibility for all disaster responses within the country. Nonetheless, the Embassy will quickly work to ascertain the welfare and whereabouts of U.S. citizens.
To aid in this process, U.S. citizens should cooperate with Philippine authorities, emergency responders, military, and law enforcement personnel. They should clearly identify themselves as Americans. Those connected with larger organizations, such as companies, schools, or church groups, should try to let these organizations know of their welfare and whereabouts if this is practical.
The Embassy will be in touch with the Philippine government, Embassy wardens, and with larger umbrella organizations to attempt to identify as many American citizens as possible and determine their welfare.
In most cases, the Embassy will utilize its e-mail emergency notification system to provide instructions to U.S. citizens and to update citizens on current conditions. It is vital for individuals to be enrolled in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive these messages.
The Embassy will maintain communication with the Department of State in Washington, D.C. In particular, the American Citizen Services (ACS) unit will work with Overseas Citizen Services (OCS) to respond to inquiries from the U.S. regarding individual U.S. citizens in the Philippines. ACS can also contact individuals in the U.S. on behalf of Americans in the Philippines.
In a vast majority of disasters and emergencies, the U.S. government and the U.S. military do not evacuate Americans from the country. Any decisions about evacuations will be made by the appropriate authorities within the U.S. government.
Depending on the nature of the emergency, the Department of State can, under certain circumstances, provide U.S. citizens with financial assistance for emergency medical care and repatriation to the United States. There are restrictions and limitations to this assistance. For more information, please visit the Department of State’s website for emergency financial assistance for U.S. citizens abroad.