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Emergency Guideline for International Activities

This Emergency Guideline for International Activities1 serves as a general guideline to ensure the safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff, volunteers, and administrators of California State University, Northridge (“travelers”) while traveling abroad on university-related business or activities.  This document is supplemental to any program- and/or country-specific emergency plans developed by a department or program. 

This document is maintained by Risk Management and Insurance and is available on its website; other campus programs that wish to post or link the Emergency Guideline on their respective websites may do so. In addition, faculty and program coordinators in charge of international activities should share this Emergency Guideline to those traveling internationally.

This Emergency Guideline is divided into these major sections:

  • Emergency Contact Numbers
  • Before Emergency: Planning Ahead
  • During Emergency: Actions to Take

1For purposes of this document, international activities include all university-sponsored, campus-originated activities that take place outside of the U.S.

Emergency Guideline for International Activities.pdf

What is an emergency?

An emergency is any circumstance that poses a genuine risk to, or that has already disturbed, the safety and well-being of CSUN travelers.  These include, but are not limited to, medical emergencies and evacuation, family crises, accidents and injuries, physical and sexual assaults, natural and man-made disasters, environmental hazards, incarceration, disappearances or kidnapping, civil unrest, and political uprisings, terrorist threat or attack, or country evacuations. These emergencies can affect single individuals or the entire group.

A “perceived emergency” results from events that are not immediately threatening to the health or safety of program students or staff but which may be viewed as such by the traveler, family, and friends at home, or by the media.  In many instances, a perceived emergency must be treated as a real emergency.

Emergency Contact Numbers

  • ACE Travel Assistance Program  (24-hour access)
  • CSUN Police Services:
    • host country exit code + 1 + (818) 677-2111
    • Police dispatchers will notify the Chief of Police for police response as necessary and will notify CSUN Risk Management, who will act upon the emergency request accordingly.

  • CSUN Risk Management and Insurance
    • host country exit code + 1 + (818) 677-2331
    • email: 
  • U.S. Department of State’s Citizen Emergency Center
    • from Canada: (888) 407-4747
    • from other countries: host country exit code + 1 + (202) 501-4444

Before Emergency: Planning Ahead

Steps to Take Prior to Departure

  1. Register yourself and your students with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the destination countries via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program or STEP (

  2. Review the country-specific information on the US Department of State website

  3. Familiarize yourself with the local laws, customs, and travel requirements of the countries to which you are traveling.  Remember, while in a foreign country, you are subject to their laws.

  4. If there is a Travel Alert listed for the country you will be visiting, be sure to review the details of the alert. Travel to countries listed with a Travel Warning is strongly discouraged.

  5. If your program or department offers orientation sessions related to travel or study abroad, attend those sessions.  If not, contact Risk Management for important safety and security concerns specific to your destination country.

  6. Travel Requirements: Students and all travelers must complete all required documents well in advance of the departure date. The following are required as part of the travel application process:

    • A signed Hold Harmless Waiver Form including a statement that the student has received and understood the orientation materials.
    • Foreign Travel Insurance Request Form which includes the following:
    • Emergency contact information (email and phone numbers), of at least two individuals.
    • Copies of passports (and visas, if appropriate) or passport numbers.
    • Up-to-date student rosters and detailed written travel itinerary (including side trips) with contact information for each leg of the trip. 
    • For travel to high hazard countries, travelers must contact Risk Management for additional travel requirements.

7. Keep a copy of the “Travel Assistance Program” card with you at all times along with the 24/7 assistance phone number that was provided to you by Risk Management.

8. Create a card to carry that includes contact information for your health insurance carrier, your program coordinator or Study Abroad office (if applicable), CSUN emergency contact numbers (provided in Section 3 of this guideline), and your personal contacts (friends and/or relatives).

9. Leave a copy of your contact card with your program coordinator or Study Abroad office (if applicable) and with your personal contacts. Develop a communication plan (telephone or email) with your family/co-workers so that in case of emergency, you will be able to communicate with them directly about your safety and well-being.

Steps to Take Upon Arrival

  1. Register with the nearest US Consulate/Embassy as soon as you can.  If you are not a U.S. citizen, register with the consulate/embassy of your home country.

  2. Update your contact card to include contact information for the nearest hospital, police, fire, 911 emergency equivalent, local government/visa office, translator, US Embassy/Consulate and the Sponsor University Program Coordinator.

  3. Establish an evacuation route from your place of residence and destination places (e.g., host institution, conference site, etc.). Your evacuation route should include a safe alternate destination point determined by you, your program coordinators, or fellow university travelers.  When planning your route, remember that elevators and electric doors may not operate at a time of crisis.

  4. Create an emergency kit that includes items such as emergency cash, credit cards, traveler’s checks and first aid items.

  5. Familiarize yourself with all possible methods of transportation (i.e., airport, train, bus, subway, rental car, boat/ferry).

  6. Keep copies of your passport and visa, your emergency contact card information, your driver’s license, your medical insurance coverage card, any special medical needs treatment information, and your foreign travel insurance card.

During Emergency: Actions to Take by Traveler

  1. Ensure your own and your program participants' (if applicable) safety.  Stay calm and assess the situation. Identify what type of emergency situation is taking place.

  2. As necessary, notify the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate about the crisis, and follow whatever procedures they may require. If there is a continuing risk to the welfare of the students (during a terrorist threat, for example), ask the appropriate Embassy or Consular Official for advice on a regular basis about the evolution of the crisis, and how students and travelers should respond.

  3. If possible, follow your pre-determined evacuation route and get to your alternate destination point. If your pre-determined route or alternate destination points are not safe, get to an area away from the immediate threat.

  4. Once you are in a safer location (and every time you move to another location), update your program coordinator, fellow travelers, or others you deem appropriate about your situation. If you have a method of communication at your disposal, get in touch with your emergency contacts (i.e., ACE Travel Assistance Program, CSUN Police Services, CSUN Risk Management, etc.) so they can help you. Have them assist you in finding what you need (medical care, transport, a lawyer, etc.). Keep trying. If you cannot reach anyone to help, you don't give up. Try alternate methods of communication and transportation until you are able to reach someone.

  5. After you have removed yourself from any immediate threat and made the necessary emergency contacts, you may need to move to a more permanent location for treatment/assistance. Consider your transportation options and get yourself to the appropriate location (i.e., hospital, police station, embassy/consulate, contact's home, counseling center, etc.). Maintain contact and update your emergency contacts on your condition and location.

  6. If a crisis happens in your host country while you are visiting another country, contact the coordinator of your host institution so that they know you are safe. If you cannot reach the coordinator, contact the US Embassy in the country you are visiting and ask them to contact the coordinator. You should also contact your relatives and program coordinator at home to advise them that you are safe.

  7. Depending upon the severity of the emergency, you may eventually find yourself back at the host institution.  Take the opportunity to re-evaluate your evacuation routes and make any necessary revisions to the plan or to your emergency kit.

Role of Risk Management and International Travel Group

  1. Risk Management will verify with the International and Exchange Student Center (IESC), Office of the Senior International Officer, and the Provost’s Office the list of students, staff, and faculty who are in the affected country.  IESC oversees all students in the campus-based exchange study abroad programs and coordinates with the Chancellor’s Office (CO) related to the CSU International Program (CSUIP).  The Office of the Senior International Officer coordinates all course-related international activities.  The Provost’s Office oversees all faculty and staff in Academic Affairs who are traveling internationally.  Risk Management keeps track of international travelers from the other campus divisions.

  2. Immediately after travelers and students are identified, IESC will proceed to contact the affected students in its campus-based exchange study abroad and CSUIP programs.  Risk Management will contact all other affected travelers. 

  3. If affected travelers cannot be reached, the emergency contacts will be contacted next.

  4. IESC will keep the VPSA’s office as well as the Office of Risk Management apprised of updates related to the campus-based exchange study abroad and CSUIP programs.

  5. Risk Management will inform the Chief of Staff, Chief of Police, and appropriate vice presidents (VPs), of the emergency situation and provide updates.  In the event of a life-threatening situation, the President will also be notified.

  6. Emergency response actions will be taken based on the needs of the travelers and in consultation with the President and/or Chief of Staff and appropriate VP., Risk Management will coordinate emergency response actions with the CSU foreign travel assistance provider.  IESC will maintain contact with the CO CSUIP regarding the safety of CSUIP students. 

  7. All media requests for information will be referred to the Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communications, who will consult with the Chief of Staff and/or appropriate VPs.